Ikea is putting the kibosh on massive games of hide-and-seek that thousands of people were planning to attend at stores throughout the Netherlands.
Citing safety concerns, the international furniture giant shut down a May 16 community-organized event at its Eindhoven branch, which attracted more than 32,000 RSVPs on Facebook, and other games planned throughout the Netherlands.
“It’s hard to control,” Ikea Group spokeswoman Martina Smedberg told Bloomberg News of the hide-and-seek events. “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.”
Ikea had allowed one hide-and-seek game at a store in Wilrijk, Belgium, last summer. Around 500 players ducked under toys and beds and into fridges during the day-long event, the organizer, Elise De Rijck, told Bloomberg.
“Sometimes it’s fun just to do some childish things,” De Rijck said. “Ikea is like an extremely large living room.”
Many Dutch fans of the Eindhoven game had taken to Facebook to express their excitement about crossing it off their bucket list.
At least a few Ikea customers, however, didn’t seem too disappointed when Ikea decided to pull the plug on the games. On a Dutch community page for the event, one person asked why attendees didn’t “organize it [themselves] at home instead,” rather than inconvenience shoppers.
The May event’s organizers are now seeking another location. Suggestions from Facebook users include Heuvel Galerie, a three-story shopping center in Eindhoven; Efteling, a fairy-tale theme park in the northern part of the Netherlands; or Ikea’s parking lot, where they would have a food or pillow fight instead.
The idea of a hide-and-seek game in Ikea has been around for years. A fan page called “I would love to play hide and seek in Ikea!” from 2010 still has nearly 130,000 Facebook likes. That year, the retailer discouraged an event planned in Melbourne, Australia, and alerted the police about it, though it didn't officially ban the game.