IKEA poised to be Ottawa's biggest retail store ever
People have already started lining up for the opening of Ottawa's new IKEA Wednesday morning, billed as the biggest in Canada and Ottawa's largest retail store ever.
David White was in line a full 19 hours before the opening, but he wasn't even the first one lining up.
Michele Pomerant won a contest to be first in line; she's been living in a box for four days outside the store with $10,000 to spend at the opening.
"I think it kind of says a lot about how Ottawa is growing," said David White.
"It's not often we have the biggest store," said Isabelle Auclair, IKEA's store manager. "I think people are quite excited about it and a little proud."
With over 13,000 people expected to crowd the 427,000 square foot west Ottawa location starting 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, the city said traffic volumes might be higher than normal along Highway 417, Greenbank Road, Pinecrest Road, Iris Street and Baxter Road.
Both Ottawa and provincial police will be on site and ready to help guide traffic if necessary, with IKEA staff in the parking lot to help drivers find open spaces.
Ottawa police said this is the biggest store opening they've dealt with and they'll be on site for IKEA's first five days, with IKEA covering the cost.
"Traffic is going to be congested around here, I don't think there's any doubt about that," said Sgt. Marc Benson. "So you want to leave yourself a lots of time, and of course if weather's a problem a little more time."
Temporary "no stopping" signs will be in place on nearby streets Wednesday on both sides of Baxter Road, and on Iris Street between Baxter and Greenbank Road.
There will also be electronic signs set up to warn motorists of any delays in the area.
Vehicles will only be able to enter the parking lot from the Iris Street entrance to the south, and exit on Baxter Road to the east.
People living by the store said they're trying to stay positive on the eve of the opening's traffic rush.
"I'd love to go in there and poke around, I might not buy anything but I'd definitely go in," said Andree MacIntosh. "My children have said 'oh good we can park in your laneway, mum.'"
The new store will feature 5,000 new products, have 640 seats in its restaurant (which is licensed to serve beer and wine) and will be a 1.3 kilometre walk from entrance to exit.
Ottawa will only be able to claim the title of "Canada's Biggest IKEA" for a little over a year; Montreal is getting a larger store in mid-2013.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua
What do you think about the new IKEA's opening? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us using the hashtag #ottikea.