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San Francisco’s new Ikea is a plant-lover’s paradise

A room setup is on display in San Francisco Ikea on Monday. The store features many houseplants and city-living solutions in its design. | Source: Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

The new Downtown San Francisco Ikea store will bring Swedish meatballs, cinnamon rolls and flat-pack furniture to San Franciscans starting Wednesday. But the store at 945 Market St. is greener, leafier and a whole lot more plant-friendly than your average Ikea.

When you walk through the first-floor entrance of the new Ikea, you’re immediately met with rows upon rows of plants—some real, but many plastic.

“Those plants, you see them [now]. But come back on Friday, and you will not see them,” Ikea market manager Arda Akalin told a press tour Monday. “They will sell out. Plants are very, very important, because everybody loves plants.”

Living and plastic plants will be for sale at the San Francisco Ikea on Market Street. | Source: Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

Akalin said the store’s focus on greenery came to him after walking through San Francisco’s streets and seeing houseplants in practically every window. The store’s heavy stock in plantware, home goods and gardening reflects Ikea’s desire to meet San Franciscans’ needs.

“We focused on affordability and sustainability, mainly, and small-space living, which is specific to San Francisco,” Akalin said. “You walk into the ground floor, and we only have decorations and SF-specific, unique articles over there,” including a storage crate-turned-tiny home painted Golden Gate Bridge orange.

The prices make Ikea’s offering competitive when compared with the many popular brick-and-mortar plant stores in San Francisco. Artificial potted plants at Ikea ran for as low as $1.99, while real dracaena plants—in the shape of spiral bamboo stalks—cost $2.99. In stores such as Home Depot, those same real plants can cost as much as $30.

Already, Akalin said the plastic and living plants were some of the most popular items bought by “friends and family” guests at two pre-opening Ikea tours over the weekend.

READ MORE: The $4,000 Monstera: The Rise and Fall of San Francisco’s Rare Plant Craze

Workers serve meatballs and plant balls at the new San Francisco Ikea on Monday. | Source: Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

The food offerings also provide a wide range of plant-based products, including Ikea’s “Huvudroll” plant balls, which the company first released in the U.S. in 2020. They are made primarily from pea protein and present a vegetarian alternative to the iconic Swedish meatballs offered at stores across the globe.

“We do feature our plant balls; that’s part of what we’re sampling here today,” Ikea chef Christian Herman said. “Our veggie dog is a 100% vegetable, plant-based alternative for our guests. We serve [it] here in our deli as well.”

Herman said the Ikea store’s bistro will offer vegetarian sides, including corn mix, peas and veggie medallions. Content creators, designers and other members of the press got the chance to taste Ikea's famous Swedish meatballs and plant balls at a pre-opening tour Monday.

“Here, specifically, we’re a very unique concept: We’re the first [Ikea Deli] in the U.S., so we’re kind of a combination restaurant-bistro,” Herman said. “We have a little more offerings than a regular restaurant does.”

READ MORE: Downtown San Francisco Ikea Teases Plan for Hanging Tomato Gardens

Living and plastic plants will be for sale at the San Francisco Ikea on Market Street. | Source: Liz Lindqwister/The Standard

Akalin said the store also won’t feature any fried food, meaning guests will have to trek to Ikea stores in Oakland or Palo Alto if they want Ikea-made french fries or chicken tenders.

The store’s “small-space living” concept and layout is built around city life and SF’s urban residents. 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.

“Artificial plants—not everyone can grow actual plants, so those ones are included in the range,” Akalin said.