Local public officials who welcomed furniture giant IKEA to Delaware County at a groundbreaking event Wednesday said they were already customers.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Columbus City Council President Zach Klein and Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell each cited items their families had bought — primarily at the West Chester location, near Cincinnati.
Next summer, they won’t have to go as far to pick up a Stockholm sofa, a Billy bookcase or Varvind vases when a 355,000 square-foot store will open on 33 acres along Gemini Place and Interstate 71.
“We already have 210,000 customers from central Ohio,” said IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth. “We’re excited about building a new store for them, and the countless customers who have yet to experience the unique IKEA concept. IKEA does not open stores just anywhere, nor very often. When we do, we make a commitment to the long term.”
Founded 73 years ago, the privately held Swedish company now has 380 stores in 48 countries, including 42 stores in the United States. In 2015, 771 million people around the world visited an IKEA store, while 217 million copies of the company’s annual catalog were distributed in 33 languages. The catalog contains only one-third of the 10,000 items IKEA makes and sells.
IKEA is “the world’s leading home furnishings retailer,” Roth said. “Our concept is to provide everything for the home under one roof, furniture and accessories. All our stores offer the same unique shopping experience, and they also sell the same well-designed, stylish, functional and very affordable home furnishings.”
“IKEA is a destination retailer who will not only attract customers from the Columbus area, but also visitors from more than an hour away,” said Bob Grimsley, the company’s real estate manager.
Grimsley thanked past and present city and county officials, as well as the Ohio Department of Transportation, for having the vision to have Gemini Parkway extended to Worthington Road.
“It’s taken us many years to get to this point,” said deputy county engineer Rob Riley, who was among those in the audience. He said the current county road projects designed to handle the flow of traffic to and from IKEA were going well.
“This road (Gemini) will not only benefit IKEA, but it will also benefit Westerville and Delaware County residents alike,” Grimsley said. “We look forward to being part of Polaris, Delaware County, and the city of Columbus. This is a fantastic site for IKEA.”
The Columbus store will add 300 people to IKEA’s workforce of 155,000 people worldwide.
“It’s exciting to have IKEA in Columbus for so many reasons,” Ginther said. “It is a great company in the way that it does its business, its values and the way it leads in the ever-changing retail world. It’s (cited in some magazines as) one of the Top 100 places to work. Having an IKEA store in Columbus will further elevate our international status.”
Klein said he told his grandmother that there was going to be an IKEA in Columbus, and she said the city was now on the map.
“People make weekend plans to drive to an IKEA and shop,” Klein said. “IKEA does it right.”
“I’m honored and excited to welcome IKEA to the fastest-growing county in the state of Ohio, and one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States,” Merrell said. “We believe that the future is here in Delaware County, and a company like IKEA epitomizes the vision we have for our future. It’s a vision that understands and values local needs, while participating in a global economy.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.