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Russian Shoppers Swarm New IKEA Store in Moscow

Aired April 18, 2000 - 2:54 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: There was a near stampede at a Russian market today. Not another stock panic, it was furniture. The Swedish firm IKEA has set up shop in the land of Lenin.

Here's CNN's Steve Harrigan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE HARRIGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They lined up in the cold 40,000 strong, then set off at a run when the doors opened, all to buy furniture.

LENNART DAHLGREN, IKEA RUSSIA: We had about 50 percent more sales, so they bought everything.

HARRIGAN: They are the Russian middle class, a group many thought had disappeared after a financial crisis two years ago, young families like policeman Maxim Borisov and his wife Natasha, an accountant.

NATASHA BORISOV, ACCOUNTANT (through translator): It's my dream to have a modern Italian kitchen.

HARRIGAN: For the Borisovs, as for many Russians, space is tight. At night, the living room doubles as a bedroom.

MAXIM BORISOV, POLICE OFFICER (through translator): We're not going to die from hunger. We've got clothes on our backs, and sometimes enough to go to the theater. I've got no yacht, no dacha, but we live like human beings.

HARRIGAN: The size of the Russian middle class is not easy to judge, making furniture giant IKEA's $40 million store a risky investment.

DAHLGREN: If you read the statistics, it seems like you haven't anything to spend. But if you look at the way you spend, you have a lot to spend. So it doesn't fit together.

HARRIGAN: With a steady ruble and a new government in place, other retailers may follow. But the road to Moscow is a slow one. It took IKEA 12 years to open its first store. And the fight is not over yet. (on camera): Moscow region says the store has to build a bridge to reduce traffic. But Moscow city says the bridge would block the view of a World War II monument.

(voice-over): The region controls the land but the city controls the road. That leaves the bridge half built and many of the drivers around the store stuck.

Steve Harrigan, CNN, Khimki, Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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