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View Full Version : Why aren't there more IKEA stores?


SmackFu
12-22-2000, 07:33 PM
I was reading ATTGuy's post about buying a bed at IKEA, and it reminded me of this question. IKEA seems to be quite popular among a certain segment of the population. I know I like their stuff. But compared to most other retailers, the number of stores is ridiculously low -- only 15 in the whole US. There are millions of people who don't have an IKEA within an 8 hour drive. They have none in the South (unless you count Houston). They have none in New England. Yet they have 7 on the West Coast (4 in LA alone!), and 5 in the Mid-Atlantic. Quite unevenly distributed IMO.

I thought current retail theory was that you expand as fast as possible until you saturate the market (see Home Depot, Boston Market, etc.) So what's up with IKEA? Anyone know?

douglips
12-22-2000, 09:21 PM
Originally posted by smackfu
I was reading ATTGuy's post about buying a bed at IKEA, and it reminded me of this question. IKEA seems to be quite popular among a certain segment of the population. I know I like their stuff. But compared to most other retailers, the number of stores is ridiculously low -- only 15 in the whole US. There are millions of people who don't have an IKEA within an 8 hour drive. They have none in the South (unless you count Houston). They have none in New England. Yet they have 7 on the West Coast (4 in LA alone!), and 5 in the Mid-Atlantic. Quite unevenly distributed IMO.

I thought current retail theory was that you expand as fast as possible until you saturate the market (see Home Depot, Boston Market, etc.) So what's up with IKEA? Anyone know?

I think it is because there is only so much blue paint and particle board. If they build too many stores then we'll cross the IKEA event horizon whereafter we can only build more IKEA stores, and we'll all starve as the economy collapses in a heap of stylish ying-yang coffee tables.

SpoilerVirgin
12-22-2000, 09:37 PM
Maybe too many people just don't like it (http://ihateikea.co.uk/)?

Yeah
12-22-2000, 09:51 PM
I haven't shopped at any IKEAs in the U.K. and it has been 5 or 6 years since I shopped at an IKEA in the U.S. (there aren't many of them here, you know) but I have always received good service and good value for my money. More important, IKEA sells nice, functional, attractive stuff you can't find elsewhere. (I'm sorry but Levitz isn't my style.)

So I doubt that the reason that there aren't more IKEA stores in the U.S. is because some Brits complain about them.

Can anyone answer the OP?

SpoilerVirgin
12-22-2000, 10:49 PM
Sorry, when I first searched on this topic, I found only IKEA's corporate site and the I Hate IKEA site, which I thought it would be amusing to share.

However, further research turned up this (http://geocities.com/TimesSquare/1848/ikea.html) academic paper on IKEA, which discusses the company's economic strategy in considerable detail.

It appears that IKEA's slow growth in the U.S. is due to the following factors:

1. "IKEA has applied a conservative policy to internationalization."

2. IKEA has expanded in the U.S. by building company-owned subsidiaries, rather than by franchising as it has done elsewhere. This means that all the start-up capital and training for new stores must be provided by headquarters.

3. IKEA maintains strong centralized control over all of its stores, meaning that it must give them more personalized attention.

4."Scandinavian customers like furniture in light pastel colors. Americans, on the other hand, prefer darker and more classic designs. Presently, IKEA ignores this issue and pushes its Scandinavian designed furniture into the American market." In other words, a lot of Americans don't like their stuff. (Incidentally, there are various web pages on which Americans complain about IKEA - it's not just a U.K. phenomenon.)

Skelji
12-22-2000, 11:39 PM
Actually, there are a lot of stores that are still in their boxes. All IKEA stores come unassembled, and if we want to see more, we'll have to put them together.

zen101
12-22-2000, 11:46 PM
It's funny but true about the Scandinavian people's taste in lighter pastels being radically different than the average American's tastes. However we have a Scandesign here in the Portland OR area and I have been trying to get Ikea to open up here for some time. It isn't jest for the wooden furniture aspect either, they have some of the most affordable and unique lighting treatments available as well as some really nice steel and glass stuff.

And where else can you get a 6'x4' bookcase for under a hundred bucks that does not look like complete K-Mart excrement?

I like Ikea! They also have a bed that's name means "Prostitute" and thats cool. :)

Montfort
12-23-2000, 01:40 AM
Hopefully Nacho4Sara will stop in here, since she works for IKEA.

I happen to live in between two of them, the Potomac Mills one in northern Virginia, and the White Marsh store in Baltimore.

So, I'm lucky. :)

Anyway, Ikea is a Swedish company, and well, they do things differently over there. Their niche is not "American," as has been posted, but rather chic and urban. So, you're going to find them where you find them. They're also very smart in Scandinavia, and they do their research.

SmackFu
12-23-2000, 01:59 AM
Given all that, you would think Boston would have one though. It's urban, and full of college students who are suckers for IKEA stuff. The nearest ones are on either side of NYC though.

mangeorge
12-23-2000, 02:00 AM
I wish IKEA had been around when I was living in apartments. They sell well fitted, space saving furniture at a reasonable price.
And zen's right. It doesn't look like Kmart crap.
Peace,
mangeorge

BobT
12-23-2000, 04:18 AM
IKEAs need a lot of space. They are usually the size of a small shopping mall in themselves. I haven't been to a Wal-Mart to compare, but I think they are bigger.

I don't know if New England has any areas where there is the space for IKEA to open a store that will do enough business to be successful.

I've only been to New England once, so I am not familiar with how many big outlet malls and the like are already there. I didn't notice many (back in 1990).

My other theory is that the IKEA people must think that their style of furniture doesn't appeal to New Englanders.

ElvisL1ves
12-23-2000, 08:47 AM
Fret not. IKEA opens their first Boston-area store in April 2002, if they can get more local officials paid off, er, excuse me, some zoning problems straightened out. They already own the site next to Assembly Square Mall (how's THAT for an IKEA name?) in Somerville, next to I-93 and the Sullivan Square T stop.

Actually, when we get in an IKEA mood, we combine it with a Montreal visit. It doesn't take any longer to get to than the Long Island or North Jersey stores, and the exchange rate is very helpful. Also, if you buy more than $50 Canadian, you can get the entire tax refunded when you cross the border. The duty-free shops pay in cash, on the spot. The Montreal store is on Cavendish at Cote de Liesse, near Dorval Airport.

Road Rash
12-23-2000, 11:12 AM
I have been to the one in Houston. A conservative policy is likely the best, pumping too much capital before you can estimate profit has ruined many once thriving retail outlets.

The people who go to IKEA are those who likely live in small apartmants and need functional (and nice looking) furniture that can maximize space. This is a better selling point in larger urban areas. I am surprised Dallas, which prides itself in being cosmopolitan-trendy more so than Houston, doesn't have one.

Johnny L.A.
12-23-2000, 11:36 AM
Hmmm. This table my computer is on, a while one with silver (not chrome) legs, came from Ikea. I picked out the top and legs seperately. It's quite sturdy and attractive.

Video/DVD shelves. Almost 7 feet tall, and about 8" wide. White. Four of them. Ikea.

CD racks. One bright red, one bright green. Ikea.

Kitchen table, about 2 feet square. Unpainted pine. Currently disassembled for my move (whenever that will be!). Ikea. Ditto, the square red coffee table.

The swoopy halogen lights, one witha black "marble" base and the other with the flat metal base? Yup. Ikea. So are my unpainted pine equipment shelves. And my clear-laquered pine bed.

So most of my furniture is from Ikea. Sure, I have a crappy bookshelf I've had for years and years. And a couple small "cherry wood" bookshelves my dad bought for me from the old lady who lived across the street. And my dresser, which I've had since I was four (I've got to get rid of that thing!). Ikea has great, stylish stuff that's also inexpensive (except for that green leather couch I've been looking at). I don't have any "Yin-Yang" coffee tables, or a couch with a green stripe though (ref: Fight Club); just cleanly-designed, functional, efficient, and best yet, inexpensive furniture.

Most people here seem to like Ikea. To those who dont: Well, you have to get furniture somewhere. It may as well meet the criteria in the last line of the previous paragraph. Ikea rocks.

Oh, and their little cafeterias are fun too. Mmmm! Swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice!

SanibelMan
12-23-2000, 02:04 PM
The only IKEA I've seen was in Marseilles, France. The kid that I was staying in had all IKEA furniture in his room, and I thought it was actually really nice. Guess that's my Norweigian decorating genes, though.

casdave
12-23-2000, 02:24 PM
The number of IKEA stores is proportional to Volvo ownership.

An unexpected side effect of this is that the greater the number of IKEA stores the slower the freeway traffic moves, generally this speed is held to be about 45% of the prevailing legal speed limit.

There are more IKEA stores near the M25 in the UK than anywhere else, this does explain things somewhat.

elmwood
12-23-2000, 04:44 PM
Thing is, in Canada and Australia they're in almost every major metropolitan area, while in the US they're only in a few major cities. I'm sure that Americand and Canadians don't really have tastes in furniture that are that different. However, there are Ikea stores in Hamilton and Ottawa -- I'm sure Ikea isn't considering Albuquerque or Dayton for store locations. In Australia, there's Ikea stores in Perth and Brisbane, but none in Cleveland or Denver on this side of the pond.

Space? it's actually more of an issue in Europe, where land is scarce and expensive, and many national governments have strict regulations regarding what they call "out of town development" -- in US/CA/AU/ZA terms, malls and plazas. A growing number of American metropolitan have European style urban growth regulations, but it hasn't stopped Wal-Mart and Home Depot yet. Taste in colors? Well, the Ikea store I saw in Philadelhia was packed, as were the ones near Los Angeles that I've seen.

The only thing I can think of is that Ikea is taking what I call the "mystique approach" to marketing and expansion, making their stores seem like forbidden fruit or greener grass on the other side, that the products are desirable because they can't be obtaied where the majority of people live. Think Krispy Kreme or Coors circa 1980.

Another factor, which probably doesn't apply but is somethng to think about, is the perceived affluence of the United States. Witness the rapid expansion of smaller, high-end home furnishing chains like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Restoration Hardware, for instance. The Swedes might see this, and think "Those Americans don't want the $300 Sventurd sofa, ya?" Still, like several people have posted, there seems to be a pent up demand for inexpensive furniture that doesn't look like crap from Kmart.

Mr2001
12-23-2000, 05:59 PM
I recently went to an IKEA store near Seattle (in Renton?) and was distressed at the lack of yin-yang tables. I probably would have bought one on the spot.

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