IKEA's planned new store in the Kansas City area —its closest yet to Omaha — is expected to draw customers from six states but that's not a concern for a couple of furniture sales and delivery businesses here.
Officials in Merriam, Kan., and IKEA representatives announced the plan Thursday at the site of the proposed store, the southeastern corner of Interstate 35 and Johnson Drive.
The property, about 200 miles south of Omaha and eight miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo., is a vacant shopping center that would be demolished to make way for the IKEA store expected to open in fall 2014.
IKEA said it already has 60,000 customers in the Kansas City metro area and that the new store would draw shoppers from Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Of IKEA's 38 U.S. stores, the closest to Omaha is now 370 miles away in Bloomington, Minn. Other locations are in Colorado, Texas and two in the Chicago area.
The Kansas IKEA will be a new competitor for Nebraska Furniture Mart's Kansas City, Kan., store, which is about 15 miles from the new IKEA site.
Even with the distance now from the Mart's Omaha store to IKEA's Minnesota store, “We do recognize IKEA as a competitor” and stock some similar modern furnishings, Mart executive vice president Bob Batt said in a recent interview.
He called IKEA a niche market and added Thursday, “We focus on what we do and what our customers want. It's not going to change a thing for us.”
IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth said the two stores have different furniture offerings. “This is a very large metro area with plenty of customers for plenty of retailers. Anyone who sells home furnishings can benefit.”
The new store could be a good thing for the owners of Omaha Modern, Dale and Lori Miller, who take orders from Omaha-area shoppers for IKEA furniture, drive to the store and bring the merchandise back for an extra charge of approximately 25 percent of the purchase price.
Dale Miller said 80 percent of IKEA merchandise shown on its website is available only in its stores, not online. He said the new store will expose more people to IKEA merchandise and could boost his customer base while reducing costs.
While Miller expects some customers will now choose to make the trip for themselves, he said, “At the end of the day, it's still an overnight trip for most customers, and a lot of people don't have a truck.”
Roth said the Kansas store's layout and design will be similar to its newest store in the Denver area, and include a restaurant, Swedish foods market, supervised play area for children, an upper-level showroom and a lower-level home furnishings “marketplace” sales floor. Customers retrieve their own merchandise from the store warehouse, unless they pay extra for a “picking” and home delivery service.
The proposed 349,000-square-foot store would be built on 18 acres, employ 350 people and have more than 1,200 parking spaces.
For new stores, Roth said, IKEA looks for metropolitan areas of at least 2 million people. The Swedish retailer had sales of $3.7 billion in the U.S. in 2011, he said.