Ikea vs Chinese Senior Citizens on Dates

business_ethics_highlights_2The story below is about Ikea’s attempt to limit Shanghai seniors. Is a giant retail store in any sense a “public” space? Legally, it is private property? (We must admit that we’re not sure what that means in a communist nation, or whether there are extra-legal norms there that make this more complicated there). This can be broken into two importantly-different questions: 1) Is a store within its rights to kick non-shoppers out? 2) Is it in any way bad, or unvirtuous, for a store to exercise that right?

LINK: Lonely Shanghai seniors now have to buy something if they want to cruise all day in Ikea’s cafeteria (by Zheping Huang for Quartz)

Chinese shoppers have long taken advantage of Ikea’s spacious and comfortable stores to picnic, nap, and read newspapers. A group of elderly Shanghainese takes it a step further, with dozens and sometimes hundreds of seniors meeting weekly at the cafe of Ikea’s flagship store in Shanghai. Staying for hours without ordering any food, they’re part of a blind-dating group—and they are cruising for potential spouses….

Now the Swedish retailer is taking action against them. On Oct. 5, the store announced it would ban freeloaders from the cafeteria and request customers order food before they are seated, local newspapers reported (link in Chinese) this week….

What do you think?

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