Shanghai’s IKEA Tries to Stop Elderly People from Freeloading All Day in Their Cafe

Chinese customers have long been using IKEA’s spacious stores like they’re some kind of an indoor, air-conditioned park with furniture. Non-buying loiterers would often be seen napping on the beds, chatting about, or just generally hanging out on the display couches.

Recently, a group of elderly Shanghai folks have taken this unique phenomenon to a whole new level of brazen behavior, JF Daily reported (via Quartz).

Hundreds of seniors have been conducting weekly meetings at the cafe of IKEA’s flagship store in Shanghai without buying anything. The crowd, part of a blind-dating community, would fill up the store for hours while scouting for a potential mate.  

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Having had enough, the international furniture retail chain decided to take action against the group of older singles earlier this month. On Oct. 5, the store announced that customers will now be requested to order food before they are seated in hopes of preventing freeloaders from taking advantage of the cafeteria.

IKEA even placed a notice board at the entrance announcing that the “illegal blind-dating group” has been “seriously” affecting the eatery’s normal operations with their “uncivilized behavior.” The post noted that members of the group have been “taking up seats for long hours, bringing outside food and tea, speaking loudly, spitting, and having quarrels and fights.”

The notice, however, failed to discourage the elderly patrons from continuously overrunning the place every dating week. By simply buying the cheapest item, a $0.60 croissant, and placing it on top of the table, the staff no longer bothered them. They also still eat outside food, allowing the group to be able spend the day in the cafe as usual.

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A spokesperson from IKEA revealed that the cafe had previously warned those love-seeking seniors against staying for long hours and behaving badly, but to no avail.

When asked what they thought of the new rules and restrictions, the seniors were quoted as saying they were “unfair” and “baffling.”

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