NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The wait is over.
On Wednesday, Norfolk opened a 331,000-square-foot Ikea store complete with a 354-seat restaurant, home furnishings and the largest solar rooftop array in Hampton Roads.
Ikea officials said the new store also houses nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, 42 inspirational room settings, four model home interiors and a supervised children’s play area.
The store was built in the northwest corner of Interstate 64 and Northampton Boulevard down the street from Norfolk Premium Outlets, which opened in the summer of 2017.
Ikea’s grand opening in Norfolk was nearly three years in the making.
This is the second one in the state, and 50th one overall.
Shoppers tell 10 On Your Side this close location is going to be convenient.
“Yeah, just having one closer to home so the last time I went was with her about 10 years ago and we traveled all the way up to the one near D.C., so it’s good to have one that’s closer,” said shopper, Christina Pereira.
“Some of us have been here for 12 months training and getting ready, and to finally get to this day, they’re so proud of what they’ve done and how beautiful the store is they can’t wait for people to come and see,” said store manager, Charlie Plisco.
Announced in June 2016, the store was initially slated to open last summer — but it was pushed back after Ikea officials said the location was smaller than they are used to.
To mark the store’s grand opening, Ikea promised live music, giveaways, raffles and family-friendly fun that will include balloon artists and face painting.
Plisco said in a statement, “We are excited to offer the Hampton Roads community our unique IKEA shopping experience and affordable home furnishing solutions.”
The festivities outside the store — ahead of doors opening — included Mayor Kenny Alexander helping Ikea officials with a traditional Swedish log-sawing ceremony — and a spirited dance-off between the Norfolk State University Spartan and WAVY photojournalist LaVoy Harrell.
Customers began lining up at 5 a.m., some four hours ahead of the scheduled opening. However, doors were opened a few minutes early, prompting the mass of excited customers to rush inside and explore the new store.
Some shoppers had a specific item they were looking for.
“I need a new couch in the new house and i came down today and, oh god it’s so crazy over there, I came down for a new couch,” said shopper Brenna Longo.
But they had to take on the traffic to do that.
Some drivers said their commute in was easy.
“Getting here was no problem, I didn’t anticipate touring the outlets, but other than that no problem,” said shopper Terri Boyles.
Others say it was a bit more hectic.
“The road was closed off, had to turn around, then there was a police officer on Military directing traffic,” said shopper Robin Reed.
The main lots were full before IKEA even opened, so that’s where the Norfolk Premium Outlets came in.
It served as an overflow lot where people could park and be shuttled over.
“I’m waiting for the shuttle to get to IKEA I’m excited!” Reed said.
At one point the line for the shuttle bus was pretty long.
“This was a last minute deal, I thought I’d go window shop today and check it out, i didn’t know I would have this Disney World line waiting for me,” said shopper George Bond.
A handful of buses continued to make their rounds to make sure everyone got to check out the new store.
Plisco stated, “We appreciate the warm welcome we have received thus far, and today’s grand opening is a celebration to welcome our new co-workers and visitors from the area.”
We know this is what you’ve really been waiting to see….
THE SWEDISH MEATBALLS.
More from the #IkeaNorfolk grand opening: https://t.co/z9webrhBLv pic.twitter.com/UgiU5XX7a2— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) April 10, 2019