A New Hope – Ikea’s mall in San Francisco

Background:

Chain Store Age reported that a new mall will be opening on Market Street in San Francisco, owned by Ingka Centers (an Ikea unit that owns and operates 48 malls throughout Europe and Asia-via CSA).

The 375,000 sq/ft. property will be Ingka’s first development in the U.S., and its second mixed-use development, as the Ikea store within the property will only take up around 70,000 sq/ft. Besides the Ikea store, there will be food and other retailers within with plans for these mixed-use properties to expand in to NY, LA, and Chicago.

My Take:

I love Ikea for a variety of reasons. The first would be that Ikea sells incredibly affordable furniture and home goods that mix well with all kinds of styles. I don’t think that I have ever assembled an Ikea piece correctly, however, I do well enough and have no complaints because of the price that I pay compared to what I could have paid at other home furnishings retailers. My second love for Ikea stems from how well Ikea has created an experience for its customers. Walking through the showroom is a fun experience for almost anyone, especially when you don’t actually have any intent on purchasing furniture. The showroom can also cause some arguments, but Ikea knows that and strategically places all kinds of “feel good” decor items throughout, and even ends the waling tour with the plants section, sure to suck in the millennials and Gen Zers willing to spend $14.99 on a new plant.

We can’t forget about the Ikea cafeteria’s or snack shops, either. This is where I think Ikea has some great potential in a mixed-use development. With the Ikea stores taking up such a smaller square footage than usual, why not open a standalone Ikea cafeteria in this mall? Or a Swedish coffee shop? Add in a standalone Ikea Swedish candy shop, too, with ample opportunities for pictures and customization.

This might be a stretch, but I think that Ikea should create a clothing line. While I dislike pretty much every retailer or brand that has come out and tried to be the next best “minimalistic essentials” company, I think that Ikea might actually have a shot here. Environmentally conscious production is already in their DNA, and I would definitely check out an Ikea clothing store that sells all of the basics (t shirts, pants, jeans, socks, shoes, bags, etc). The Scandinavian style-of both homes and apparel-is incredibly attractive to the U.S. consumer, and a mall designed by Ikea allows the U.S. consumers to experience that effortlessly cool Swedish lifestyle once they walk in the doors.

According to the plans, there will be other retailers inside the mall as well. I’m excited to see where this goes, but I also wouldn’t be mad if Ikea used its planned space within the mall as a large furniture showroom and then created smaller stores throughout the mall that were themed by room.

In terms of entertainment, I’m curious to see what will happen. I’m not huge on entertainment as shopping is exciting enough for me, but I’m sure that with how well Ikea has created experiences within its stores already, it will be plenty easy.

A mall like this has potential to thrive because of the variety of things to do within that all make sense together. It’s fun to go to a regular Ikea once in a while, but you probably don’t need to go that often. With a mall like this, you can go in just for coffee or some Swedish meatballs without having to walk the entire showroom and then browse all of the different stores with frequently updated collections.

I am definitely excited to check this out.

Featured image via Chain Store Age

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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