First NYC Ikea store opens in Brooklyn

June 18, 2008 11:52:38 AM PDT
Attention, Ikea shoppers: Welcome to Brooklyn. The Swedish furniture retailer's latest U.S. store opened Wednesday in the Red Hook section of the borough - the first in New York City, the 35th in America and the only one with views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

Eager shoppers had lined up as early as Monday outside, hoping to take advantage of free furniture and other giveaways for the first customers.

The arrival of the store, with its bright blue-and-yellow exterior, was years in the making amid concerns about the traffic impact the 346,000-square-foot behemoth would have on the history-steeped neighborhood on the Brooklyn waterfront that still has cobblestone streets.

Neighborhood activists worried that redevelopment was turning a district that dates from the early days of Dutch settlers and was a shipbuilding center for more than a century into an area overrun by luxury apartments and big stores.

But on Wednesday, company representatives were joined by elected officials and others to welcome the store's opening.

"We are thrilled with the reception afforded us here in Brooklyn," said Joseph Roth, director of public affairs for Ikea in North America.

Roth said that while the store had space for 1,400 cars, there was also an emphasis on using public transportation to get there.

Two city bus lines serve the area, and Ikea is offering free shuttle service from three of the nearest subway stations and a free ferry service from lower Manhattan.

The store is like every other Ikea in the products it carries, but there are a couple of things that make this location unique, including the 6 1/2 acre esplanade open to the public.

The Brooklyn store will offer home delivery of furniture, as does every Ikea, but it will also offer a service that's only found in this store - customers buying small household items can arrange for a courier service to deliver those as well.

It's a reflection of the reality of urban life in New York, Roth said.

"To take it on a bus, it's not as easy as having someone taking it home for you," he said.