VOL. 129 | NO. 243 | Monday, December 15, 2014
Ikea to Open First Tennessee Store in Memphis
By Amos Maki
Swedish furniture retailer Ikea will open its first Tennessee store in Memphis next year, according to several people familiar with the effort and confirmed by Ikea representatives Monday.
The company and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will announce the store Tuesday, Dec. 16, according to several sources. A statement to the media Monday night read: "Ikea, the world's leading home furnishings retailer, will announce plans on Tuesday morning for a proposed Memphis store. The proposed Ikea Memphis would be the first Ikea store in either Tennessee, Arkansas or Mississippi and would increase the Swedish retailer's presence in the Southeastern U.S."
As The Daily News was first to report early Monday, two sources said Wharton will announce the Ikea news during an 11 a.m. press conference in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall.
The Swedish retailer has secretly been exploring Memphis for a new store, including a site near the Costco store at 2431 N. Germantown Parkway in Cordova.
Over the weekend Wharton began notifying City Council members and other officials about the pending announcement. Wharton did not go into specifics with the officials, saying only that he would be making a special announcement Tuesday, but multiple sources confirmed Ikea was the subject of the press conference.
Officials were busy Monday preparing the Hall of Mayors for the announcement. A section of the area was cordoned off by large black curtains and several pieces of the retailer’s home furnishings were visible.
Ikea stores are usually massive, ranging from around 300,000 square feet to over 500,000 square feet, a size usually associated with industrial warehouses and not retailers. Ikea stores usually have thousands of exclusively designed items and dozens of individual room settings to give shoppers a real-world idea of what they’ll be getting. Ikea stores also often include large restaurants and play rooms and care areas for children.
To man stores of those sizes, Ikea typically hires several hundred employees to staff each location, which would explain City Hall’s interest in the project. It is unclear if any incentives will be made available to Ikea. Memphis and Shelby County typically don’t offer incentives for retail projects but the number of jobs and capital investment involved in the Ikea deal could prompt action on that front.