Ikea’s Long-Awaited Downtown SF Mall Opens On August 23

IKEA's Downtown SF Mall Opening On Aug 23. Boosting city renewal with Swedish delis, jobs, and unique urban format. Community-focused.

The inauguration of a new store rarely receives much attention in the world’s top cities.

And yet, in 2023 San Francisco, where empty storefronts, declining foot traffic, and safety worries have become obsessions, the entrance of an IKEA furniture shop on a seedy stretch of Market Street has sparked disproportionate excitement.

It was reported on Tuesday that the first San Francisco area IKEA would open on August 23 at 945 Market St., between Fifth and Sixth streets. Two Swedish delicatessens, a used furniture buyback and resale program, and home delivery for shoppers who take public transportation are just some of the features.

A tangible statement of confidence in a city that has been sluggish to recover from the pandemic is what city leaders, merchants, and citizens hope IKEA will do for the area.

IKEA’s coming, Mayor London Breed remarked, is “a tremendous boost.” Since 2018, she has been lobbying for the company’s relocation to San Francisco.

San Francisco Controller’s Office senior economist Asim Khan believes it can have a “halo effect.” He remarked that the arrival of a globally recognized brand boded well for the city.

IKEA has stated that it wants to encourage renewal.

“We will be bringing jobs, people, and commercial activity back to the Mid-Market area,” said Arda Akalin, market manager for IKEA San Francisco, which encompasses both the new store and its much larger sibling in Emeryville. (There’s an IKEA in East Palo Alto, too.)

Massive “For Lease” signs are scattered all around Union Square, Powell Street, and Stockton Street. Westfield San Francisco Centre, where you can find the massive Nordstrom department store, is closing this month. In April, a Whole Foods just two blocks away closed due to security concerns like frequent stealing and a fatal overdose.

Akalin said the shop would follow the same security protocol as previous IKEAs, with both internal risk staff and a third-party security firm monitoring high-traffic areas.

He emphasized the importance of everyone’s safety, including employees, customers, and the surrounding neighborhood. It’s true that “this is the same for every IKEA unit.”

To prevent shoplifting, several local businesses now lock up products, including relatively inexpensive ones like tubes of toothpaste.

“While our room settings are secured for safety reasons, merchandise in the Market Hall will not be under locks when IKEA San Francisco opens on Aug. 23,” Akalin said, referring to the area where products for instant purchase rather than home delivery will be available.

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He stated that IKEA has hired over one hundred people and is actively looking for more. According to its careers page, hourly wages might be anywhere from $19 and $30.

Akalin estimates that 90% of the new hires are city residents, with the majority coming from “around the corner,” which includes the Tenderloin, Mid-Market, and SoMa neighborhoods. The city’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development was responsible for hiring some of them. “They might be people who have done some things in the past and are now undergoing some rehabilitation programs,” he speculated.

Khan estimates that there were 77,500 people working in San Francisco’s retail sector in February 2020, 14% fewer than there were in mid-June 2018. He claimed that many retail positions are only part-time and pay very little.

The 250,000-square-foot, six-story building will have more than just an IKEA.

IKEA’s sibling company, Ingka Centres, has plans to establish a mall there in the spring of 2019 with a food court, other dining options, shops, and maybe entertainment, as well as a co-working space on the mall’s top floor in partnership with Industrious, a New York City-based chain of flexible offices.

Khan stated, “The cumulative effect can be bigger than the parts of it,” referring to the fact that the site has already given countless construction jobs throughout its rehabilitation. The unoccupied 6×6 building was purchased by Ingka Centres in September of 2020 for $198 million.

Unlike the chain’s usual expansive outposts in the suburbs, IKEA’s first “city center” store in the Bay Area will be located in the heart of the metropolis.

“This is a brand new format,” Akalin remarked. It’s not like the other IKEAs you’ve been to.

Less than a third the size of the Emeryville location, this store will nonetheless include around half as much product on display across three floors (85,000 square feet).

There will be about 2,500 smaller goods available for in-store pickup, and customers can also request larger things like couches and bookcases for home delivery (usually the following day). Depending on availability, those things will come from either the Emeryville shop or the American Canyon warehouse. The standard rate for doorstep delivery is $19, with higher rates for scheduled and in-home deliveries. TaskRabbit, an IKEA company, offers in-home assembly, while Lugg, a partner of IKEA’s, offers same-day and next-day delivery on some items.

The San Francisco IKEA will contain a tiny portion with roughly 150 flat-pack products like side tables and coffee tables, in contrast to the massive warehouse sections of typical IKEA stores.

Both Swedish Deli, a 60-seat cafe on the store’s second floor selling meatballs, fish, and other meals to dine in or take out, and Swedish Bite, a grab-and-go assortment of sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, and drinks, will be available to customers.

”We will be a member of the community,” Akalin assured. Our goal is to provide constructive aid to the neighborhood.

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