‘I’m going to buy everything’: Lockdown is shelved for Ikea fans

Only a handful of shoppers in main queue follow official advice to wear face coverings

Ikea is among the major retailers to reopen after the Government announced an acceleration of its economic reopening plan. Video: Enda O'Dowd

 

“Good morning. We are delighted to welcome you back to Ikea, ” said the voice crackling out of the public address system as hundreds of people stood in the gloom of Ikea’s vast car park in Ballymun and waited for the doors to open for the first time in almost three months.

The woman standing at the top of one of the two long queues being carefully marshalled by Ikea staff had arrived at 5.40am. She’d been on her feet for more than four hours by that point and was wearily aware that she would have to wait at least 90 further minutes before being allowed in to the north Dublin shop.

While the store’s opening time was set at 10.30am, the first hour was reserved for the “elderly and vulnerable”. Most of those in that queue wore facemasks while only a handful in the other queue had followed official advice to cover their mouths and noses when shopping.

Jalenta Vasiljeva, Swords, who was first in the queue. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Jalenta Vasiljeva, Swords, who was first in the queue. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

“I didn’t think I would be the first in line,” said Jalanda Vasilijeva from Swords. “We just moved house and need furniture. We need to buy everything but I have a list and know exactly what aisles I need to go to.”

Just behind her stood a young couple who had joined the queue at 7.15am. They were also in desperate need of furniture.

“We moved into our new house in Tallaght just as the lockdown started,” Jennifer O’Brien explained. “We’ve had no furniture since March and have been sleeping on mattresses for weeks.”

Richard Stevenson, from Shankill: ‘I’m here with my wife but she had to go to the shop to buy breakfast rolls.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Richard Stevenson, from Shankill: ‘I’m here with my wife but she had to go to the shop to buy breakfast rolls.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Not everyone desperately seeking furniture. Two teenage girls - Zoe and Áine - stood side by side and one of them was looking for fun things for her bunnies.

“She’s here for rabbit stuff,” Áine, the older sister, explained. “She wants to buy one of those tunnels that children can crawl through. The rabbits love them.”

Zoe nodded. “The rabbits are my life, I’ve three of them including an albino and a dwarf. They are going to love the tent.”

Áine admitted she got a kick out of queueing. “I was in the queue when McDonald’s opened a few weeks ago. And I’m really tempted to queue for Penneys on Friday.”

Their mother was standing nearby having a smoke. “I’m going to buy everything,” she said. “I haven’t been shopping for so long and plan on being in there till the death today. I’ve nothing else to do. I might get a shoe rack as well as the Ikea sandwich bags. I definitely need them. I had to get them in Aldi and I didn’t like them. They were too small.”

People gather in a queue for the opening of Ikea, in north Dublin on Monday morning. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
People gather in a queue for the opening of Ikea, in north Dublin on Monday morning. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Cards only

While she spoke there was a kerfuffle further up the queue as a woman who had been standing in line for more than two hours and realised the retailer would only accept credit cards and no cash transactions were being permitted. “They are going to hear all about it if they don’t take my money,” she shouted to no-one in particular.

Richard Stevenson, from Shankill, did not look delighted to be waiting in line. “I’m here with my wife but she had to go to the shop to buy breakfast rolls,” he said. “My job is to mind her place in the queue and carry stuff to the car. I hate Ikea.”

Linda McGrath did not hate Ikea. She loved it. As she rolled up to the entrance in her wheelchair the Poppintree woman said she was just popping in for a browse. “I am just delighted it is open and I’ll probably get a cup of tea. They do a really decent cup of tea in Ikea,” she said.

“We are not serving tea today,” a staff member whispered under his breath.

People queueing outside Dunnes Stores in Dublin city centre on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People queueing outside Dunnes Stores in Dublin city centre on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

An hour later around Grafton Street, 10km away from the Ikea lines, there was no sign of queues but there were unmistakable indications that the city centre had come alive again - albeit with a difference.

Tom Monaghan was standing on the floor of his cashmere shop on South Anne Street delighted to have reopened after months in mothballs but scared that the overseas visitors who had been routinely buying his softly knitted wears for more than half a century would not be arriving this year.

The 94-year-old is almost certainly the oldest shopkeeper in the city and looked as dapper as ever as he dressed his window. “I’ve never known anything like this. It will be a hard summer,” he said.

Around the corner, on the city’s main shopping street, stores were busy without being madly so. The two-metre rule was largely being respected but here too a minority of people were wearing face coverings despite the Department of Health saying it was “recommended in situations where it is difficult to practise social distancing, for example, in shops”.

Two young women who were wearing facemasks stood at the entrance to the Levi’s store and watched the crowds stream past. “It’s great to be open again,” one said before pausing for a beat. “But I am annoyed that noone can see my lippy under the mask.”