Monday, January 26, 2004

IKEA is coming to Frisco!!

Home furnishings chain Ikea eyes North Texas

07:03 PM CST on Wednesday, January 21, 2004

By MARIA HALKIAS and MICHAEL PRECKER / The Dallas Morning News

Ikea-holics will travel long distances to shop for the Swedish chain's huge selection of cheap and chic home furnishings. They buy luggage to haul home their loot on airplanes or share U-haul trailers with friends. And when they move to a city without a store, they complain.

Ikea fans in Dallas-Fort Worth can rest easier now.

The popular retailer is coming to Frisco in mid-2005. The chain is building a 310,000-square-foot store at the northeast corner of the Dallas North Tollway and State Highway 121 near Stonebriar Centre.

The addition of Ikea will make Frisco - already a shopping destination with more than 4 million square feet of retail space sprouting in three years - more of a ground zero for sporting shoppers.

"We picked Frisco for the tremendous concentration of retail already there in addition to the mall. It's already a destination for retail and entertainment, and we believe it will become even more of a destination with us coming in," said Doug Greenholz, Ikea's real estate manager.

Ikea (pronounced eye-KEE-ah), which sells inexpensive modern furniture, lamps, linens, cooking utensils, storage units, wall décor and more, designs and makes its own furniture. The retailer, which opened its first U.S. store in 1985 and has locations up and down the East and West coasts, announced an expansion last year that includes 50 new stores over the next 10 years in existing and new markets.

Since then, developers and admirers of the chain have been seeking out the megafurniture store, which is almost twice the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Inventive Dallasite David Grant posted an Internet petition last year that reads:

"On behalf of the general population of Dallas and surrounding communities: We, the fans of furniture mega-store Ikea would like to make it very clear that opening an Ikea store in the Dallas metro area would be a very popular decision. Make your opinion count by signing the online petition below."

Mr. Grant collected 877 Internet signatures, and while Ikea isn't giving him credit for its decision to open a Dallas-area store, it didn't hurt.

"I'm not sure we've had petitions from other cities, but we get a lot of phone calls and e-mails from people asking us to build in their markets," said Ikea spokesman Joseph E. Roth.

Ikea has been looking for a Dallas-area location for more than a year, he said. In most new markets, the chain expects to add a second or third store, but it has no local plans beyond the Frisco location right now, Mr. Greenholz said. "Getting this store built is our focus now," he said.

The store will employ 400 to 500 people and will be built on 25 acres that Ikea is purchasing contingent to approvals from city and private entities.

According to Ikea's economic development agreement with the city of Frisco, the retailer will spend a minimum of $40 million on the project. Frisco is giving Ikea a $1.4 million refund for a new road and a retention pond that it will build on the property as well as a share of sales taxes collected by the store over 10 years.

Ikea stores are high-volume retailers with average U.S. store sales last year of about $85 million. The concept was founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, a 17-year-old who made pencils, stools and matchboxes on his family farm called Elmtaryd and sold them in the parish of Agunnaryd and neighboring villages in southern Sweden.

Ikea, which is an acronym of the founder's name and those geographic roots, now operates 192 stores in 31 countries, including 18 in the United States. It had sales last year of $12.2 billion worldwide and $1.3 billion in the United States.

The retailer warns first-timers to come prepared with a list, measurements of spaces and lots of room in the car. And it doesn't mind if it's a family affair. Strollers are provided, or parents can drop off their children at the Ikea-supervised play area.

Mr. Roth said shoppers stay an average of two to three hours per visit. While the Ikea shopper ranges from college students on up, the typical shopper is a woman with children in her 30s.

Ikea has also recently announced stores in Atlanta and Tempe, Ariz. In August, a bigger Ikea will open in Houston across the street from the existing location.

"This isn't upscale furniture. People who buy this furniture are buying it because it's utilitarian, strong and value-priced," said Dave Brennan, co-director of the Institute for Retailing Excellence at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. "It's actually priced below market because you have to assemble it yourself."

The news was especially welcome to legions of Ikea fans who have made the Interstate 45 pilgrimage from Dallas to Houston for years.

"Every time I'm down there, I ask them how long will it be till you're in Dallas," said Brenda Brady, an interior architectural designer who lives in Richardson. "I'm really excited. We're kind of like an Ikea cult."

Christy Poindexter, an interior designer in Arlington, said she recently signed Mr. Grant's online petition urging the company to come to North Texas. "I didn't really think it would happen," she said. "I'd always heard they only come to port cities."

Ms. Poindexter said she visits Ikea at least once a year, borrowing a big SUV when she needs to haul furniture and taking her car for smaller items. "I buy everything I can," she says. "The bad part is you have to put it together."

Taylor Lothliam, who works for an accounting firm in Dallas, rented a truck to bring bedroom furniture from Houston. "Everyone's going to go crazy here," she said. "I usually go about twice a year, and whenever my friend goes to Houston, he says, 'Do you need anything?' "

So what's the big deal? "I love modern design, but it's a price I can afford," Ms. Lothliam said.

Ms. Brady said she has been taking clients to the Houston store for years - even clients who can afford more expensive furniture. "It's not the money - it's the look," she said.

Fredrik Broden, a commercial photographer in Dallas who grew up in Sweden, had an Ikea-furnished room when he was a child. Before Ikea opened in Houston, Mr. Broden said he would visit stores in Sweden and "stuff everything we could in our suitcase."

When Ikea arrived in Houston, "we started going down with a truck," he said. "Both our kids' rooms are basically Ikea, and I've bought a lot of office stuff."

Ikea sells some of items online and through its catalog, but Ms. Brady said shipping costs can be as much as the products themselves. "So we just hop in the car and go to Houston," she said. "If you have a Starbucks and a good CD, it's a great girl trip."

Posted at 12:16 PM by cun2
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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

2004 - What an awesome year

I've been swamped with work for the past .. hmmm... 8 months??? lol. oh well...
To sum it up before I forget ... had vacation from 25th of Dec till the 4th of Jan... gosh I needed that. Stayed home for Christmas, spent an awesome new year in HotSprings, AR. Thanks piggie =)
This year though, has showed it's blessing... everything is going smooth ... let's hope it stays that way. ...
.... and guess whatttt... I got my TV today!!!!!!!!! haheheahaehaehae... oh yeah.!!! AGAIN... THANK YOU PIGGIE =)

Posted at 5:24 PM by cun2
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