In four weeks, on November 16, IKEA will throw open the doors to its much awaited Canberra store. I personally have been excited for this for quite some time and am in desperate need of a new lounge so I can’t wait.
I wrote about IKEA’s opening in Canberra a little over a year ago and discussed some of the pros and cons of our new Swedish buddy at Majura Park. Most of these are to do with the new jobs IKEA will bring (ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will meet with Ikea management and the first 100 or so of around 250 new staff today as they attend an induction day), as well as the jobs it would take from smaller independent furniture stores. A lot of comments did express excitement about Swedish meatballs, so that’s something to keep in mind for the opening date.
I think there’s another side to this though – how will IKEA shape the way big chain furniture stores like Fantastic Furniture and Domayne do business. I mentioned that I was in the market for a new lounge. My lounge looks like something that I pulled out of the Mugga Lane tip. I bought it when I moved to Canberra almost five years ago, from Fantastic Furniture. Five years of binge watching television, having lots and lots of friends’ butts sit on it or crash on it over night, not to mention the delightful impact one of my cats has had on it. It has overstayed its welcome for far too long (the lounge, not the cat) and last month I was sick of waiting for IKEA and took myself off to a major furniture store in search of a new one.
I found one that I liked but it was going to take nearly three months until it actually arrived for me to take home. Three months!? Ridiculous, I say. This isn’t a custom piece, nor is it from a small privately-owned store. It’s a mass produced piece from a major retailer.
I decided then and there I would wait for IKEA. The lounge I wanted from IKEA was better anyway, it’s a tad cheaper, and when I want it I can just walk in and get it.
While IKEA will definitely have negative flow-on effects for some retailers, I think the accessibility of product at IKEA will encourage other retailers here to become more competitive and savvy. No one is going to cop a huge wait when they can get a similar thing immediately from IKEA.
For the sake of small business in the capital I hope IKEA doesn’t thump the independents too hard, but I’m keen to see it force other big businesses to tighten up their trading practice quick smart.