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Tennessee’s first IKEA opens in Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After more than a year of waiting, Tennessee's first IKEA is now open in Memphis.

The store celebrated its grand opening at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Die-hard fans camped out in the cold for days to score freebies, like a couch, a chair, gift cards and even a year's supply of Swedish meatballs.

Instead of a traditional ribbon-cutting, the new store was officially opened with a log-sawing — a symbol of good luck in Swedish culture.

Longtime fans couldn't wait for the popular store to open its doors.

"Our whole house is already furnished with IKEA furniture, so I'm really excited that we have one in Memphis," said Kelli Patrick, the first person in line.

Patrick was camped out since 7 a.m. Monday, all to be among one of the first 43 people to win a new couch.

The company picked that number because the Memphis location is its 43rd in the country.

"I was like, 'I really hope I'm in the first 43 here or it's probably not worth staying,'" she said. "And then I end up number one, and I was very surprised!"

And she was just one of dozens who braved the cold, bundling up and sleeping in tents for what many are calling a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I just came out to find out where I needed to be for the grand opening and I found out that there was still time to get a couch, so I thought, 'let me stay," said Detra Gardner.

But little did she know it would end up being about more than just some free furniture — she bonded with the other campers, some even pitching in to buy her a tent.

"I never have done anything like this before," she said. "But being with these people here, we're an IKEA family now."

Proving that the Christmas spirit is alive and well here in the Mid-South.

"It's a merry Christmas for me!" she said.