IKEA wants Dutch customers to stop playing hide-and-seek in their stores

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“It’s hard to control,” Ikea Group spokeswoman Martina Smedberg said by phone. “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 has stopped plans by thousands of people to play hide-and-seek in its maze-like stores in the Netherlands.

After a spirited round of the children’s game attracted hundreds of people to a Belgian Ikea outlet last summer, the world’s biggest furniture retailer has forbidden similar events in several of its Dutch stores, citing safety reasons. The organizers of the games, who got word out over Facebook, are now looking for alternative locations.

“It’s hard to control,” Ikea Group spokeswoman Martina Smedberg said. “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.”

More than 32,000 people have signed up via Facebook to play hide-and-seek at Ikea’s Eindhoven store, while 19,000 registered interest in a game in Amsterdam and 12,000 for one in Utrecht. The vendor of Billy bookshelves has 13 Dutch stores.

Ikea granted permission for one game of hide-and-seek in its store in Wilrijk, Belgium, in July after 29-year-old Elise De Rijck put it on her list of 30 things to do before her 30th birthday.

“Sometimes it’s fun just to do some childish things,” said Ms. De Rijck, who lives in Antwerp. “Ikea is like an extremely large living room.”

About 500 people joined in the game. They were hiding in fridges, under stuffed toys, under Ikea’s blue shopping bags and even in the storage space under beds, said Ms. De Rijck, a regular Ikea shopper.

“We played hide-and-seek the whole day,” said Ms. De Rijck, whose bucket-list also includes throwing a pie in someone’s face and participating in a mud fight. “It was really exhausting, but so much fun.”

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