Finally, IKEA comes to Denver

This exciting news flash came across my desktop on Wednesday:

Home furnishings retailer Ikea said Wednesday it will build a 400,000-square-foot store in Centennial.

But the Swedish company said it could take years before its first Colorado location opens. Construction of the Centennial store won’t begin until Ikea completes stores in Sommerville, Mass., Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., and a distribution center in Joliet, Ill.

So, someday in the future, we’ll have an IKEA store in my hometown. Well, hometown-ish.

For the past decade, I’ve known Denverites who have traveled to California or Chicago to purchase their kitchen cabinets and cheap Swedish furnishings. Now, or in the 2010s, we’ll have our own.

Several years ago, out of curiosity, I e-mailed the company to ask why there isn’t a store here. After all, Denver is growing with in-migration of well-educated, fit, active young professionals, mostly dog owners, into sports. The company’s response was that we “didn’t have the demographics.” I laughed, because in my experience, many locals (like Americans everywhere) rush like lemmings to purchase trendy new designs. Soon we’ll have our chance.

Obviously, a store like IKEA has pros and cons.

The Cons

Bad news first:

  • IKEA is a big-box store. Their goods are made in cheaper countries and shipped to us. Their carbon miles must be enormous. The fuel and resources to build and operate the store are huge.
  • Worse, it’s a destination big-box store. Whereas people can go to a local Wal-Mart — or skip it — they will drive hundreds of miles to shop at IKEA.
  • Their low prices encourage consumption. I’ve only shopped at an IKEA once (back in 1998, when we had to take the bus from Manhattan’s Penn Station to a New Jersey location), but there was a definite sense of “Throw it in the cart! It’s only $xx!”
  • At least when I shopped there, the store carried a lot of plastic — little gadgets and accessories priced so low they were hard to resist, especially for your average, non-plastic-phobe consumer.

The Pros

Now for the good news:

  • IKEA does try to be environmentally friendly. They avoid formaldehyde, sell and recycle CFL bulbs, and actually charge customers 5 cents for every (plastic) bag.
  • IKEA’s cheapness actually pays off in less resource use (imagine that!). Check out this statement from the company’s social & environmental responsibility page:

      Our cost consciousness and resource efficiency result in less usage of raw material and less waste and discharges.

  • They try to engage in open reporting, and according to the comments on this page, allow or encourage “green” practices by employees at their stores.

What do you know about IKEA? Do you, will you or would you shop there?

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11 thoughts on “Finally, IKEA comes to Denver

  1. Brigid says:

    I love IKEA. I first discovered them when we moved to Switzerland and rented an unfurnished apartment—then discovered that there was no such thing as cheap secondhand furniture over there. IKEA was significantly cheaper than any other store, and we furnished our entire two-bedroom apartment, including big furniture, linens, and dishes, for less than $3,000—and sold everything to the new tenants when we left.

    It turns out everyone in Geneva bought their furniture at IKEA as well, so when people visit each other, they call their furniture by name—”Oh, I see you got the Arboga sofa. We went for the Snogg.”

    They just opened an IKEA near Boston, and I have been there a couple of times. Be warned that the store is very overwhelming; you should get a catalog first and think about what you want to buy. The quality is generally very good, though. And be sure to have lunch in the cafeteria!

  2. Michelle says:

    Ahh, here in AZ we call the big blue store the place that dreams are made of…
    Seriously, we go there a lot to just eat and drink coffee. I have too been impressed with their desire as a company to be conscious on different levels. They are very family friendly. They don’t just open a store anywhere, like most big box stores. There is a lot of good there, they also recycle batteries at the Tempe store. AND their As-Is section is FULL of great stuff.

  3. L'an says:

    My heart did a little summersault when I saw your headline in my reader this morning: oh yay!!

    As usual, thanks for pointing out the pros and cons (because I was having a moment of irrational wild abandon that, if the store was actually already present, would mean I’d be planning a trip down there sometime in the coming weeks even though there’s nothing really that I need.)

    One “pro” I’d add is that yes, the prices are cheap but as Brigid points out, the quality seems to be quite a bit higher and more versatile than what you’ll often get with furniture from the other big-box kind of stores. I’m thinking freestanding ‘closets’/storage cabinets and the like–what I’ve picked up from Target usually seems very poorly constructed and usually quite limited in terms of configuration. Then I see the Ikea catalogs and/or what friends in closer proximity to Ikea have picked up, and realize there are all kinds of much more useful options available. And I know that I’m prone to choosing one storage option because I need something and its the only option I can afford, but usually a year or two later I’m trying to patch together something else that will work better. I’d so prefer to just get exactly what will work best, the first time around…

  4. heather says:

    We got an Ikea this year, right down the street, maybe 5-7 minutes from my house. I hate the crowds, I hate the layout, how enormous it is and easy to get lost.
    But, I love the lunch service, it’s inexpensive and surprisingly decent. I also like the low prices for things I would buy anyway. Another good thing about Ikea environmentally speaking is that all of their kitchen cabinetry is made to German standards and have lower emissions of harmful chemicals. I’ve worried about that very issue because we are going to be remodeling and considering new carpets and flooring as well as cabinets, and the emissions from those items concerns me a great deal.

  5. treehugginglib says:

    Here in Seattle we have an Ikea. The stuff is very modern so if you’re a shabby chic type you won’t find much there. Still, lots of great everything home stuff. From roman shades to kitchen cabinets. Just don’t eat at the restaurant! Ugh, Gods! It’s baaad!

  6. openingupshop says:

    Wow!! Really excited to hear that IKEA is coming to town. We just moved from Washington, DC to Denver earlier this Spring and that is one thing that we’ve missed.

    Hoping to get into real estate soon and IKEA kitchens are surprisingly high-quality and ergonomic. Would love to use them to do a remodel. As a homeowner I would not cry if I had a brand spankin’ new IKEA kitchen.

  7. Kitt says:

    I’m super-excited about Ikea coming. Love their textiles, especially, and all the kitchen goodies. And the meatballs!

    A co-worker told me they sell live Christmas trees, which you can return after the holidays. They then plant the trees in a national forest. (Or you can plant it yourself.)

    Ikea Hacker has lots of great ideas for repurposing Ikea stuff to fit other needs. You don’t see that happening with American Furniture Warehouse.

  8. cheaplikeme says:

    This has been great! Overall a lot of excitement. I’m trying to remember what we bought at IKEA … some barstools, a small pitcher, a small lamp … the best feature, I found, was their high resale value on Craigslist when we no longer needed them.

    Apparently, re: the restaurant, buyer beware, eh?

  9. Kait says:

    Perhaps the restaurant quality differs by location? Our local Ikea has decent food (not gourmet, but better than fast food). We go there to eat more than anything.

    The one thing that I love most about Ikea is that you can get a lot of non-plastic kids toys without paying through the nose. The majority of their play dishes are ceramic and metal, which is a nice change from the plastic, plastic, plastic everywhere else.

    The one thing that I don’t like is that I do find myself thinking things like “I don’t care if I ruin my wok, I can replace it for $7”. That kind of consumerism bothers me (especially in myself).

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