SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of people braved temperatures in the 30s early Wednesday morning for the opening of the new IKEA location in Live Oak.
The Swedish retailer celebrated its grand opening by offering major giveaways and live music before opening its doors at 9 a.m.
Situated on the southwest corner of Interstate 35 and Loop 1604, the Live Oak location is IKEA's 49th store in the U.S. and fifth store in Texas. The 289,000-square-foot store has the same architectural design for which IKEA stores are known worldwide.
"We don't have to go to Austin anymore. It's finally here at home," said Olga Rodriguez, who was bundled up in warm clothing with her friend, Dolores Gutierrez.
Shoppers arrived to find backed-up traffic in the parking lots and a chaotic scene.
"This is crazy. I mean, people started running out the cars. It's crazy. It's a lot more than I expected, for sure," said Jessy Schooman, who was first in line.
Those in attendance Wednesday had the chance to win thousands of dollars in gift cards valued at $500, $1,500 and $2,000.
The IKEA Live Oak location features nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, multiple inspirational room settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area and a restaurant serving Swedish specialties, such as meatballs with lingonberries and salmon plates, as well as American dishes.
The cafe inside is reportedly the largest restaurant in the city of Live Oak. It has 358 seats. The store also houses both a Swedish food market and a bistro.
My favorite part about the new @IKEAUSA the cafe! I’m told this is actually the largest restaurant in the city of Live Oak with 358 seats... and there’s a Swedish food market downstairs... and a bistro pic.twitter.com/x7rnUATCBz— KSAT Max Massey (@MaxMasseyTV) February 13, 2019
Diedre Goodchild, the store's manager, said IKEA has hired more than 200 permanent employees along with 100 seasonal ones.
I’m not sure if you can tell, this a line of what seemed like at least 100 cars. At 4:20am. Of people waiting to get to Ikea. Police say they started lining up at 1am. They expect 10,000 people throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/ezM72oqWY2— KSAT Max Massey (@MaxMasseyTV) February 13, 2019