The New York Times has a story about how the Red Hook Ikea’s Smaland—the playspace where parents can deposit kids for 90 minutes while they shop—is becoming the most popular babysitter in Brooklyn, and the store doesn’t even give a Fakse that the parents are dropping off their kids and not buying anything:
James Rotino, a single father, has become a regular at the store in Brooklyn. He takes his 5-year-old son, Vincent, to Ikea once a week after preschool, heading straight for the free Smaland play center, where children who meet the height requirement can romp around in a pit full of plastic balls, watch videos, read books, play with puppets — sold at Ikea of course — or work on craft projects under the supervision of Ikea employees for up to an hour and a half.
While Vincent plays at Smaland — commonly referred to as the ball room — Mr. Rotino reads the paper or takes a walk among the aisles, but he rarely buys any of Ikea’s home furnishings. “We get hot dogs or something and that’s it,” he said. The free baby-sitting, he added, “gives me a little bit of a break and it makes my kid happy”
… recently, stores say, more parents like Mr. Rotino have begun to frequent Ikea for the playtime itself, depositing their children at Smaland and plopping into a display couch for an hour of peace and quiet, and then leaving without ever buying a thing.
Wait, do they have Wifi? And why stop at chilling on the Arild? Why not make a cup of tea on the Praktfull Pro then tuck into the Hemnes for a snooze? It wouldn’t surprise employees of the Brooklyn store: According to the Times story, some people try to deposit pets at Smaland as well. Do they take out-of-town relatives?