Sleeping on the job at Ikea Burlington
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.”
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.