Holy Ikea!

Well, we finally made our pilgrimage to the big blue box. Amazed, surprised, delighted, impressed, curious…

It’s so refreshing to see “European” design hit town. I’m real curious about the actual uptake and acceptance of the clean, minimal, smart offerings. I’m not seeing a whole lot of the yellow bags for purchases, but with their ‘select it now buy it downstairs when you’re done shopping’ process, the usual intuitive indicator of whether people are actually buying stuff isn’t  available to me sitting here watching customers in a very comfortable and good looking chair up on the second floor; at least not yet…

I cans see why Mr. American Furniture Warehouse was protesting the tax incentives that were made available to Ikea.  I bet his sales are off 20%. Although some unsuspecting Ikea sofa buyers may get home and find that their new cheap purchase looks pretty small in their big family room, it is so refreshing to see trim, healthy sized offerings here. I walked out of the American Furniture Warehouse being grossed out with the store room floor ubiquity of their f’ing big, fat, ugly furniture. Its kind of like people looking like their pets: “Hey look honey, that chair’s overstuffed just like me! Oh my god, its got a beer cooler built right in! Look, here’s a slot for the remote, or a candy bar!” Ikea sells yummy crepes for $2.99, the same price that you get a hot dog (as their total offering) at AFW as it’s affectionately and sadly known.

  

The implications on urban design are fascinating too, with their suggestion and offering of a total living environment in 380 square feet. Although the young, single cyclist in their banner photo that is the suggested buyer for this minimal lifestyle, it certainly doesn’t represent a huge market, nor are there a lot of buyer that I see here today who are representative of this (transient) Millennial buyer. Aspirational marketing at its best.

In the real eatate development world, I hope that developers are looking for remodeling / restoration projects that may include small, stuido SRO (single room occupant) unit design criteria, creating perhaps one and a half times the density that they now have, offering up the Ikea fit design that accommodates an upscale, hip lifestyle. Of course the city planners (and developers) will have to approach parking needs in a more flexible way, knowing that increased density calls for more off-street parking. Perhaps a car co-sharing scheme can be added to the mix to help buyers and renters reduce their car needs, freeing up resources for more Ikea furniture! while helping cities benefit from a greater use of existing urban infrastructure, as a thought…

Well, upon my visit downstairs, I have no doubt that the store is successful in Denver. The upstairs does a brilliant job of setting the stage for acceptance of the lifestyle as defined by all the accessories that are finding their way into bags and carts by the truckload.

Bravo Ikea! It’s a great retail experience.

 

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