29 November 2008

IKEA in Winnipeg?

Having heard rumours of IKEA opening a store in Winnipeg for as long as I can remember, I'm always skeptical when this story pops up in the media every few months. That being said, after listening to this report on CBC Radio, and reading these two items in the Free Press, it would seem that it might actually happen this time. Although not for a few years. The company has apparently even identified a site in Winnipeg that they would like to develop. Generally speaking, I'm against big-box stores and the like but, to paraphrase the American president-elect, this would be urban sprawl that we can believe in.

For whatever reason, I happen to love their stuff. Perhaps it's because of my Swedish roots (which I'm sure are clearly discernable from my Blogger photo), or just because I'm an aesthete who happens to be poor. Either way, they make well-designed stuff that I really dig, and they sell it very cheaply (the latter being the key to their future success in Winnipeg). Going to the store is part of the experience too; depending on the time of day, you can go to the restaurant and eat Swedish meatballs or one dollar breakfast (eggs, sausages and hashbrowns). They even have a Swedish grocery store! It's all just too much fun...

IKEA in Winnipeg would be very good news indeed. I've had the experience of ordering a table from their website, only to find that they've left it at the post office because I wasn't home when they came to deliver it (in the middle of the working day, when no one is ever home). I believe they've since improved their mail-order delivery service, but nothing beats the same-day, flat rate delivery that you get when you have a store in your city. Although I now live only 15 minutes away from an IKEA store (5 minuites bike + 10 minutes bus), as someone who has dragged IKEA products home from the post office on Corydon Avenue I can sympathise with all those people back home desperate to get a store there. If I had had a reliable car back in those days, I would have done my shopping in person in Minneapolis, currently the closest city to Winnipeg to have an IKEA store. But that's still an 8-hour drive away, plus the Canadian dollar is once again losing value vis-à-vis its American counterpart, plus, since Americans seem to think that the September 11 terrorists came from Canada, it's becoming more and more difficult to cross the border. What I'm trying to say here is that Winnipeg really needs an IKEA store.

The main obstacle to building an IKEA in Winnipeg has always been the old rule of thumb that IKEA only builds stores where they can draw from a minimum population of one million people (Winnipeg's population is only 750,000). There apparently used to be a store in Halifax, which is a city much smaller than Winnipeg, but that could draw customers from all over the atlantic provinces. It ended up closing down in any case. In the same CBC Radio item, someone asserts that a Winnipeg store could draw customers from neighbouring Saskatchewan (also sans IKEA), but this has never been true, has it? After all, why wouldn't they simply go to Edmonton or Calgary where there is no provincial sales tax. At best, a Winnipeg store could regularly draw people from Northwestern Ontario, and perhaps from Grand Forks if the Canadian dollar loses enough value.

Anyway, I really hope this happens. If H&M (that other pillar of stylish, low-cost living from Sweden) were also to open a store in Winnipeg, I might even be able to move back for good. Until then, I'll keep on pretending to be Swedish out here. There's something called Tiger of Sweden opening in Montreal in spring 2009, and I can't wait to find out what it is!


Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know if you heard, but on Dec. 16, 2008, Ikea officially announced that they will be building Canada's largest Ikea store in Winnipeg at the corner of Kenaston Blvd. and Sterling Lyon Parkway in a new 1.5 million sq. ft retail development. Shortly after that, H&M announced they are converting the former Safeway space at Polo Park mall to an H&M store. Start packing!

Thomas said...

I knew about IKEA, but hadn't heard about H&M at Polo Park. I didn't even know that Safeway was gone. Add to that these so-called Montreal winters that are way too hot, and I think I really will have to consider coming home before too long.

I'm back with scars to show.
Back with the streets I know.
They never take me anywhere but here.

- Left and Leaving