Sleep­ing on the job at Ikea Burling­ton

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - KATHY YANCHUS Burling­ton Post

Mark McGinn’s camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was a lit­tle more com­fort­able this time around.

McGinn was an 18-year-old Hal­i­fax na­tive, work­ing in Oakville dur­ing the sum­mer of 1991, when a friend told him about a pro­mo­tion for the brand new Ikea store open­ing on Plains Road in Burling­ton.

Seven days later, the teen had bro­ken the pre­vi­ous world record for the long­est open­ing camp-out in front of an Ikea, by one day. He was also the first shop­per through the doors, which had its re­wards.

“Orig­i­nally, I came with a mat­tress, chair and a sleep­ing bag. Through the course of the week, peo­ple brought me tents, ra­dios and more sleep­ing bags.”

His in­cen­tive was the $3,000 in Ikea fur­ni­ture given to the first cus­tomer, which he fig­ured would come in handy as he was headed to St. Mary’s Univer­sity.

Friends and strangers would drop by his camp­site, lo­cated just out­side the en­trance doors, to of­fer him food and drinks, or play Fris­bee with him. McGinn started to keep track and, in to­tal, he wel­comed 600 visi­tors.

“It was great. Every­body was so nice. They’d come by and say, ‘Hey Mark, we heard you were here. We’re go­ing to McDon­alds, want any­thing?’ They thought I was down here starv­ing to death,” he laughed.

Fast for­ward 25 years. McGinn is now 43, work­ing in the film in­dus­try in Toronto.

When Ikea Burling­ton pro­posed a re-cre­ation of his first camp-out as a pro­mo­tion for its 25th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions this past Sun­day, McGinn didn’t hes­i­tate.

“I thought it was great. It was so much fun the last time. It’s such a great story in my life and it’s so funny to re­live it again. It wasn’t quite this cosy.”

Ikea pulled out all the stops for McGinn who was joined by his 14year-old son Lukas on the cam­pout. Their ‘bed­room’ came equipped with a queen-size bed, linen and pil­lows, night ta­ble, lamp, sev­eral chairs, a rug and pot­ted palms.

McGinn will be tak­ing home the bed­room set and ac­ces­sories as well as a $500 gift card for be­ing the first cus­tomer at Ikea’s 25th an­niver­sary, said Ikea’s Ni­cole Blake.

De­spite the swel­ter­ing heat of the day, Satur­day evening brought a slight breeze which al­lowed for a com­fort­able sleep, said McGinn.

McGinn said he ap­pre­ci­ated the cosy Ikea ac­com­mo­da­tions and din­ner on the house.

“Every­body was so nice.”

JAYSON MILLS, SPE­CIAL TO THE BURLING­TON POST,

Mark McGinn was one of the first cus­tomers at the doors of Ikea 25 years ago, and Sun­day he was first again, cel­e­brat­ing its 25th an­niver­sary by sleep­ing out­side the store.

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