Swarms of impatient shoppers, all clamoring for Poäng chairs and sheepskins probably, will soon descend on Midtown: IKEA has announced that it plans to open its first U.S. "city center" outpost in Manhattan this spring. According to a press release issued Monday, the IKEA Planning Studio will occupy 999 Third Avenue, a space opposite the original Bloomingdale's at 59th Street. (The location was previously occupied by Urban Outfitters.)
"We recognize that we are in a rapidly changing retail environment, and to be fit for long-term growth, IKEA is transforming in a way that lets us meet our customers where they are," said Lars Petersson, Country Manager of IKEA Retail U.S. "New York City is the natural choice to open the first city center store—the most vibrant, dynamic city in the U.S., and the epicenter of retail, business, and culture."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the announcement comes as the Scandinavian furniture giant reconsiders its retail approach across the board. Although IKEA has mostly avoided the fate of its brick and mortar peers, which—particularly in New York, where rents continue to rise at untenable rates that hit small operations particularly hard—have been vanishing as e-commerce consumes their business. IKEA will reportedly eliminate 7,500 jobs, primarily corporate roles, as it reconfigures its stores to better fit customers' buying habits.
The Journal reports that 80 percent of IKEA consumers investigate their selections online before purchasing them in-store; although that would seem to suggest that the company's display rooms have become less relevant to the IKEA retail experience, it reportedly aims to drive store traffic by paring down the products stocked on site, while also expanding "space for more mocked up living rooms and bedrooms." In other words, it plans to open outposts where customers can view bigger purchases in person, without navigating a labyrinthine warehouse full of incidentals. IKEA anticipates that this scheme will result in 30 new urban-centered stores and 11,500 jobs in the next two years.
An IKEA spokesperson told Curbed that the Manhattan Planning Studio won't carry the wide range of smaller decorative objects available at the Red Hook site. Don't expect meatballs, either: This location will be a showroom, where people can buy larger furniture items like beds and sofas for delivery only. So at least we're not looking at exhausted hordes attempting to wrestle boxed bed frames onto the narrow escalators at the 59th Street - Lexington Avenue subway station.
According to the press release, the company incorporated input from New Yorkers in conceptualizing the coming storefront, which it says "will focus smart solutions for urban living and small spaces"—i.e., innovative new ways for you to build more storage into the fridge bed cannibalizing all 140 square feet of your microstudio.