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10/17/2016

Shanghai’s IKEA dilemma: how to stop freeloading matchmakers?

Shanghai’s IKEA dilemma: how to stop freeloading matchmakers?
For years, Shanghai’s IKEA store has been dealing with two types of people – the loungers and the matchmakers.

People under the first category occupy the showroom by napping on displayed beds or comfortably lazing around on sofas. The latter category mostly includes senior citizens trying to play cupid and find spouses for their children, turning the spacious IKEA canteen into a crowded matchmaking fair.
IKEA’s Shanghai branch has notoriously become a popular rendezvous spot for the city’s elderly. However, as of this month, the Swedish company decided to put an end to the regular freeloaders, prohibiting people from occupying seats if they don’t order food.
Shanghai’s IKEA dilemma: how to stop freeloading matchmakers?

The current policy at IKEA gives everyone with a membership card a free cup of coffee – which soon became the excuse for senile matchmakers to occupy the space.
“From today onwards, the restaurant will only be open for people who purchase food first,” read a notice posted at the entrance of the canteen.
Shanghai’s IKEA dilemma: how to stop freeloading matchmakers?

The Swedish company said they have received many complaints from customers during the national holiday period, saying they could not find available seats. However, the elderly whose behavior is in question also complained that if they are not allowed to stay there, they would have no alternative place to convene.
Worrying about children’s wellbeing is quintessential Shanghainese parents – with marriage topping their agenda. The city has many famous places for those matchmakers to gather, including ballrooms, city squares and parks.
Meanwhile, the IKEA’s Beijing store said they have not encountered a similar problem, according to China News Service, implying that such situation exists nowhere but in Shanghai.
China’s now-abolished One Child Policy has resulted in many potential social problems, with gender imbalance, marriage and aging of populations being the most prominent especially in first-tier cities.

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