As Downtown San Francisco’s new Ikea store prepares to open its doors to the public on Wednesday, The Standard got a sneak peek into the store famed for its meatballs and flat-pack furniture.
The Swedish company drummed up local excitement in anticipation of Ikea’s grand opening when “friends and family” Ikea members were welcomed to the Market Street location for a sneak-peek preview on Saturday and Sunday, which included “food, prizes, giveaways and surprises.”
This isn’t your typical Ikea, however.
The new store at 945 Market St. is focused on "small-space living" for a pool of urban residents, a different crowd from those who usually flock to Ikea’s big-box suburban warehouse stores. These city-based stores tend to have a smaller product selection, carrying a fraction of the company’s usual range of products.
Downtown stakeholders and city officials are hopeful the 250,000-square-foot complex with Ikea as its anchor will help reinvigorate San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood, which has lagged in luring workers back to the office since the pandemic and an epidemic of retail stores closures.
The mall, owned by Ikea's parent company Ingka Centres, will also feature a co-working space, a food hall and a “multipurpose space.” The company also teased plans for hanging vegetable gardens and an underground urban farm at the 945 Market St. location.
“Together with Ikea, we will play our part and contribute to revitalizing Market Street and the neighborhood by creating an appealing meeting place for the local communities,” said Miia Kautovaara, an Ingka Centres manager in San Francisco.
The new Ikea store has already created 100 jobs in San Francisco, according to a Wall Street Journal report. San Francisco officials helped the company hire local people to fill the open positions, which ranged from retail managers to store security.
Ikea owns some 54 stores across the U.S., but only a handful are designed for city living. Ikea representatives say the store will prioritize stocking products that customers can take home on transit or carry through congested city streets.
And unlike most cavernous suburban Ikea stores, the new location does not have a furniture warehouse, though the store shows bedroom sets and other larger items in 27 furnished floor displays.
“Customers will be able to purchase and take home a range of 2,500 smaller home furnishing accessories and special collection items that will focus on affordability, sustainability and small-space living,” an Ikea spokesperson said.
Customers can instead order Ikea furniture for same- or next-day delivery. The store carries approximately 5,500 items on display, with around 2,500 available to take home. There are roughly 150 items of furniture available to purchase and take home from the store directly.
The company has partnered with Taskrabbit and Lugg to deliver bigger-box items to San Franciscans.
Ikea’s famous meatballs will also have a smaller home than usual in San Francisco’s city-living store.
Most suburban Ikeas have a larger, traditional restaurant, but the Market Street Ikea features a smaller 68-seat “Swedish deli.”
"We have all of the meatballs, the veggie balls and salmon balls, the plant-based balls, cinnamon buns, veggie dogs, everything!" said Ikea marketing and communications manager Wanda Fisher. "It's just a little different than our traditional sit-down restaurant that you'd see over at Emeryville or Palo Alto [stores]."
The new store also features a grab-and-go snack area that is the first of its kind for an Ikea store; representatives told The Standard on Monday during our visit.
Liz Lindqwister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org