“Attention Ikea customers!” the speakers blared. “The store is now closed. Please bring all purchases to check out—some people have to sleep out here for crying out loud.”
Mark Malkoff hung up the public address phone at the Ikea store in Paramus. He cinched his white bathrobe and padded in his slippers up the escalator against the flow of people heading for the exit. He went to the third floor and flopped on a bed. The shoppers were heading home, but Malkoff was already there.
“I needed to be out of my apartment for a week because they were fumigating for cockroaches,” explains the 31-year-old comedy writer, who lives in Manhattan. (Plus, there was a writers’ strike going on.) “So I figured, Why not move to Ikea?”
After receiving the okay of Ikea officials, Malkoff arrived at the Paramus store on January 7th and moved into a 700-square-foot model apartment. He unpacked his suitcase into a chest of drawers and made himself comfy. Each day he participated in his normal activities. His personal trainer ran him up and down the aisles. He ate at the in-store restaurant, schmoozing with customers. He spent evenings playing laser tag and racing shopping carts with a security guard. He taped almost everything. (The videos are on marklivesinikea.com.)
On his fifth and final night, singer Lisa Loeb surprised Malkoff with a live concert, ending in a shopping spree to help her pick out new furniture.
Ikea was Malkoff’s second store-related stunt. In 2007, he visited all 171 Starbucks stores in New York City in 24 hours, giving him his first sip of publicity. He began writing comedy, making short films, and doing stand-up after graduating from NYU in ’98. Until the writers’ strike, he was the audience coordinator for The Colbert Report. He’s always hatching new projects. “I just come up with stuff that entertains me and makes me laugh,” he says.
Malkoff found life at Ikea surprisingly easy and even luxurious, but he prefers waking up next to his wife than to crowds of strangers staring at him. “Let’s just say I won’t be moving to Target anytime soon.”Click here to leave a comment