Ikea Has A Long History Of Hide-And-Seek In Its Stores, But This 3000-Player Game Trumps All
Schoolyard lunch times saw us strain our creative potential to think up new forms of entertainment. After a few rounds of chopsticks and handball, there were really few games left. But one that never failed to amuse was hide-and-seek.
Had you a big enough playground, some kind of shrubbery or playground equipment, and an easily excitable group of friends, you could really see the lunch hour fly by.
It seems we haven’t outgrown that childish energy and excitement when it comes to hunting down our mates from their hiding locations.
And if Ikea proves anything, it’s that as adults our penchant for bigger and better hiding locations has only escalated. Just this week, police had to intervene on a plan that was posted to Facebook – and had garnered more than 3,000 attendees – which proposed to play an epic game of hide-and-seek at Ikea’s 700,000-square-foot Glasgow location.
But as Fast Company reports, this isn’t the first time Ikea has been subjected to a mass game of hide-and-seek. According to the publication, the first game played in stores dates back to 2014. Elise De Rijck, a blogger from Belgium, coordinated the hide-and-seek meet-up at her local Wilrijk in celebration of her 30th birthday because, let’s face it, what else is there to do when it comes to celebrating that kind of milestone?
The legend goes that Elise created a Facebook group and invited her friends but in a turn of events that no one really saw coming, the event saw thousands of people join the group. Fortunately for Elise, Ikea Belgium got wind of the plan and rather than putting an end to it and the birthday celebrations, they instead offered Ikea’s full support and scheduled extra staff and security to help host the event.
And as you’d expect, it was a riot. Photos that circulated online showed people hiding under bins, beds, and other nooks discovered in the store. It makes schoolyard hide-and-seek look positively pedestrian.
But while Elise got her birthday wish, those looking to continue the game have come under greater scrutiny. Given the fact Ikea required extra support for the game, it makes sense that they won’t be particularly fond of having to do so regularly.
Consequently, Ikea stores have taken to Facebook to contact groups organising similar games in-store, asking them to disband due to safety risks. According to the company – and you need only visit once to understand this to be a valid argument – the store is one full of heavy furniture and forklifts.
As a spokesperson from Ikea Belgium told ABC News in 2014, “We wanted to make her [Elise] dreams come true – and clearly the dream of thousands of others – but it was an exclusive, one-off thing.”
Of course, when you’re competing against the power of the Internet and the ease at which information is disseminated, it’s basically a losing battle. And such seems to be the case of Ikea, who haven’t successfully been able to put an end to the hide-and-seek games being played in its stores.
Across the world, people continue to try their luck at organising a large-scale game to be played in Ikea stores, but it seems the Netherlands boasts the greatest interest.
In 2015, 32,000 people had signed up on Facebook to play in Ikea’s Eindhoven store. 19,000 people signed up for a game in Utrecht, and if the growing number of YouTube videos are anything to go by, it’s clear adults are wanting desperately to have a round or two of hide-and-seek in-store.
As for the Glasgow store and the 3,000-people strong game of hide-and-seek that had to be stopped, Scottish Police had to be called in for assistance. They remained on site until the store closed at 8pm, reportedly turning away groups of youths who appeared to be arriving for the fun.
Rob Cooper, Ikea Glasgow Store Manager, said in a statement: “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always our highest priority. We were aware of an unofficial Hide and Seek Facebook event being organised to take place at our store today and have been working with the local police for support.”
“While we appreciate playing games in one of our stores may be appealing to some, we do not allow this kind of activity to take place to ensure we are offering a safe environment and relaxed shopping experience for our customers.”
It’s sad news for hide-and-seek fans, but given the extent of their enthusiasm for hiding in large warehouses, we don’t expect this trend to die out anytime soon.