Citing safety concerns, IKEA has banned massive hide-and-seek games in its stores across the Netherlands, upsetting thousands of people who signed up to participate in several events in the coming weeks.
Although the company presumably views the community-organized
events as positive publicity, the risk to the public safety has
proved a concern.
“It’s hard to control,” IKEA Group spokeswoman Martina
Smedberg told Bloomberg. “We need to make sure people are
safe in our stores, and that’s hard to do if we don’t even know
where they are.”
The Facebook-organized event at the Eindhoven branch planned for
May 16, which more than 32,000 people had indicated they would
attend, is now being shut down. A 19,000-person event planned for
April in Amsterdam has also been canceled alongside the Utrecht
store ‘game’, to which 12,000 people RSVPd to participate.
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) March
The rules of IKEA’s hide-and-seek games, which have seen success
in the past, are simple. Participants are encouraged to hide in
displays and semi-open areas, with bathrooms and employee-only
areas off limits. A time limit is set for about an hour per game.
At the end, everybody is urged to proceed to a central meeting
IKEA’s hide-and-seek scheme has been around for years. Last year
the company allowed one game at a store in Wilrijk, Belgium, in
which about 500 players took part.
“Sometimes it’s fun just to do some childish things,”
organizer Elise De Rijck told Bloomberg. “Ikea is like an
extremely large living room.”
Those who have signed up for the canceled event are now looking
for other locations. Suggestions include Heuvel Galerie, a
three-story shopping center in Eindhoven or Efteling, a theme
park in the northern Netherlands.