Customers in line two days before IKEA’s Indianapolis-area store opens

IKEA, which will open its Fishers store Wednesday, has room concepts to display its furniture. (Photo courtesy of IKEA)
Customers at IKEA, which will open its Fishers store Wednesday, will find an assortment of room layouts that display its furniture as someone might see it in a home. (Photo courtesy of IKEA)
IKEA Fishers customers can buy unassembled furniture in its self-serve warehouse and take it home the same day. (Photo courtesy of IKEA)

IKEA won’t open its first Indiana store until 9 a.m. Wednesday, but customers were already lining up by Monday morning.

Whether it’s the giveaways – a free EKTORP sofa for the first 45 adults in line and a bent birchwood-framed POANG armchair for the next 100 – or the challenge or something else, the company reported that 95 people were in line before noon Monday and brought along tents and sleeping bags.

The 289,000-square-foot IKEA Fishers store at 11400 IKEA Way has 1,000 parking spaces, 15 checkout lanes and was built on 35 acres along the eastern side of Interstate 69, just south of the East 116th Street exit. It also has car charging stations.

Bernd Buldt of Fort Wayne says within limits one could call his family IKEA fans. His wife, Brigitte, has plans to visit the new store, though not during the opening.

The furniture appeals to them, the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne mathematics professor wrote in a email, because, “First, we like the design and the colors. Colors and design are ‘fresh,’ colorful, and brighten up the space. We like the clean, somewhat minimalistic approach w/o Victorian squiggles and embellishment … Materials are naturally looking wood, metal (aluminum), and glass; everything we like to see in our home. The design is also modular, which makes it easy to re-use and to re-arrange what you have while needs and preferences change over the course of years or decades. Yes, you won’t believe it, but most thing things are pretty durable, we have (had) them for 30+ years.”

The family, he said, brought IKEA pieces with them when they moved to the United States from Germany and then “bought some linen and towels at the IKEA Pittsburgh (when we lived there) and a few items since we moved to Fort Wayne at the IKEA Detroit (mostly book shelves) and the IKEA Columbus (chair, lamps).”

Tish Bracy, of IKEA public affairs, said the company has 180,000 existing Indiana customers who would have had to travel to Chicago and Ohio to shop its stores.

“It was time to bring IKEA to the customers,” she said.

Fishers’ central location made it a great fit, and the city has worked with the company to bring about the opening, she said.

Purdue University retail specialist Richard Feinberg noted that the company is a boon for the state as a whole.

“IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer and the most-sought-after big retailer,” the consumer sciences professor said in a news release. “IKEA generally attracts consumers from a 200-mile radius.”

It will add significant tax revenue for the state and the local community.

“IKEA sells lots of stuff; an average store generates $90 million revenue. At 7 percent sales tax that’s $6.3 million in additional tax revenue,” he said.

At full employment, staffing will reach approximately 250 full-time employees, according to Feinberg, who said workers who put in 20 hours or more weekly are eligible for many benefits and that an IKEA usually adds an average of 1.75 new jobs in new or existing businesses near IKEA.

When shoppers enter the store they’ll see what IKEA calls its “neighborhoods,” Bracy said. The five- to six-room setting gives customers a look at how pieces can complement one another or be used in a living room or bedroom for instance. The store has 50 home interiors and three full-size model home spaces that can show customers, for instance those who live in a 270-square apartment, what their space would look like with IKEA furniture.

Those who have never seen IKEA pieces or haven’t for a while might be surprised.

The company takes pride in the quality of its furniture, and customers will see a selection for a variety of price points in various styles including minimalist but also country and traditional.

They also don’t need to go away hungry because the store has a 325-seat restaurant at its center, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Usually, the restaurant opens one hour before the store does and customers can get a $2 breakfast. Loyalty members get coffee and tea free, and customers can get IKEA’s famous Swedish meatballs, Bracy said.

The rear of the store is a warehouse where people can get furniture to take home and assemble. It also has delivery in the Indianapolis area. The store also has a remodeling area where those looking to redo a kitchen for instance can get help with plans and designs.

The company plans entertainment Wednesday and giveaways throughout the week. The grand opening will feature the raising of the Indiana, American and Swedish flags, the singing of the American and Swedish anthems and “America the Beautiful,” and a log-sawing to bring good luck to the store.