Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blowing out a Swedish candle

Mid-December. Holywood Exchange. Remember the phenomenal traffic jams that clogged up the Sydenham Bypass arterial route from early morning until bedtime. People camped out.


Well, it was in the imagination of a certain retail outlet, the traffic police and the media as they prepared us for the opening of Ikea at Holywood Exchange.

The opening ceremony was a reasonably modest affair, although thousands of people did visit the store stretched out across the first day of trading. Even I squeezed in briefly on the first night on the way home from grabbing some now-forgotten essential item from Sainsburys.

To celebrate their first birthday, Ikea Belfast are hosting a party on Saturday 13 December. There will be “face painters, balloon modellers and a jolly jester” ... and for the children, a Santa and elves in a grotto (£5 for a photo and a present).

If you come “dressed up in Swedish style” (perhaps a big chef’s hat?), they’ll give you a gift card, and there’s a £10 voucher waiting for you if it’s your birthday too.

And it’ll be a good opportunity to check out the Harvey Norman (and Next Home?) stores that have recently opened up next door. Just watch out for the traffic … the tail backs at Knocknagoney on the way home could be crazy if Tesco haven’t finished their construction work by then!


Timothy Belmont said...

I reckon that if you went there, dressed as Bjorn or Benny from ABBA, you're bound to win! :-)

Those new stores have been deafeningly silent. You cannot really see what's going on at Holywood Exchange unless you happen to be passing IKEA. Holywood Exchange has no website, either.


John Self said...

At the weekend it looked as though Tesco's roadworks will be finished soon. Just as well, as it's been slowing my homeward commute (and was disturbing my cycle commute when it was still warm enough to do that) for weeks now.

I went into Harvey Norman a week ago, and it was quiet - though Friday at 5pm probably isn't peak time. They need to sort out the access - it's not clear that you get into it by going up the side road at the roundabout immediately before Ikea. Instead, the obvious route in is the little slip lane along the main road, which turns out to be a winding one-car-width chicane and very hard to navigate your way through - and clearly marked NO ENTRY for cars leaving, though people still did (a recipe for disaster if someone else is coming in at the same time). I drove around the car park a couple of times before spotting someone else using the proper exit and following them.

The Harvey Norman store itself is huge, taking up three of those units. The furniture part (two-thirds of the floor space) was empty when I visited, the electricals part busier.