Is it an IKEA opening or a rock concert?

So the new IKEA store Brooklyn officially opens two days from now, on Wednesday June 18, but as of 11 AM today, Monday June 16, there were already 18 people waiting in line with sleeping bags. Yes, they are planning on camping out. (Does IKEA make sleeping bags, by the way?!)

Sure, IKEA is a popular store. But it’s safe to say that one reason for the enthusiasm is the fact that the first 35 people in line will get a free couch (too bad they can’t sleep on them before the store opens). The next 100 get a free armchair. And the first 100 kids (separate from the adults waiting for the furniture) get a toy.

Anyone having flashbacks to the iPhone mania last year outside the Apple stores?

IKEA's line is clearly driven by the company's incentives to get shoppers to exercise the same sort of cult-y excitement that once was seen only when tickets for rock concerts first went on sale. Now that sort of excitement is seen for brands, not bands. Last year, everyone was wondering how to mimic Apple and its lines outside its stores. Before that, it was how to mimic the fan queues for the new Xboxes in late 2005. Maybe IKEA has figured out how to have the sort of cult-y brand that usually is only found in the tech sector.

But what is particularly interesting is how the IKEA lines differ from last year's iPhone lines. Last year, people could ostensibly afford a $500 phone. This year, with the economy gloomy, they're camping out for free furniture at a store known for its inexpensive goods. But what both IKEA and Apple share is, of course, their reputations for simple, appealing design. In the case of IKEA, is that what's driving the brand loyalty? Or is it simply the low prices? Would love to hear your opinions.