Students flock to new IKEA

Move over Pier One Imports, the goliath of the import furniture market has invaded Philly. IKEA, the Swedish furniture superstore, announced its arrival with the grand opening of its gigantic warehouse showroom on August 25.

Move over Pier One Imports, the goliath of the import furniture market has invaded Philly. IKEA, the Swedish furniture superstore, announced its arrival with the grand opening of its gigantic warehouse showroom on August 25.

Located at 2206 S. Columbus Blvd., IKEA is the most recent addition to the United States, where a demand has grown for budget furniture. With a fresh, hip image and low prices to accommodate thin wallets, IKEA has quickly become a favorite of college students or recent grads looking for unique d├ęcor at a dirt-cheap price.

The idea of offering furniture for a young crowd is nothing new, but no one has perfected the art like IKEA. The expansion into the United States has come swiftly and with overwhelming force, as IKEA now has stores in 24 locations across the country.

Previously, Philadelphians had to trek to the Conshohocken store, which replaced the Plymouth Meeting location, the first in the country.

Boasting 311,000 square feet of showroom floor space on a sprawling 21 acres, IKEA Philadelphia offers a seemingly endless selection of couches, cabinets, lamps, beds, tables, and just about any other piece of contemporary furniture you can imagine.

The important thing cash-strapped college students need to know is what they can get at IKEA, and for how much. IKEA offers more bang for your buck than any other furniture store you are going to find.

If you are not one of those lucky enough to get campus housing, you have a small apartment you need to outfit on an equally small budget.

You might be surprised with what you can get for $200 at IKEA. The names may be unpronounceable, but the prices will speak for themselves.

For starters, you will need something to put your clothes in. Try the Robin, a three-drawer chest, for $59, and unless you are into standing while you eat, you will need a table and some chairs. The stylish Ingo and the contempo IKEA/PS Rivo both check in at a measly $49. Don’t forget to add a few Stefan chairs for $20 a piece.

For something to plop down on for a night of studying, or more realistically, a night in front of the television, try the oddly-shaped but inviting Rolig at $50.

These are just a few of the choices you have, and the since the IKEA showroom is so large, you will be able to find something to meet your desires and your budget while getting in some much needed exercise on the walk around the behemoth showroom.

“It’s amazing how big the store really is,” said Stephanie Swanson, a junior at Drexel. “It’s really cool that we have one in Philly now.”

For those in the dorms with less room to fill, IKEA offers dorm room essentials at costs most competitors simply cannot match.

How about a wastebasket for the seven printouts of that term paper that were not just right? The price of the Fniss tips the scales at a whopping $.99. Summera notebooks can be found at the same price.

Need some cushioning on that plywood mattress the university has so graciously provided you with? Grab a Granat pillow, or a shopping cart full of them, at $4 each. And since the space under your bed has already become a disorganized mass of clothes, papers and god-knows-what, try organizing it in some of the Vessla storage crates in stylish colors and textures, also $4 each.

There really is no end to the choices that you can find, and chances are you will have to decide between a few things you actually like. You can feel free to splurge without the guilt of doing so at a more expensive store.

The opening of the new IKEA is not just significant for students. Take a look at the parking lot of the new store, and it might seem like the entire city of Philadelphia is there. While the effect on the economy of the surrounding area will no doubt be positive, many residents contend that traffic will become a problem in the already busy, industrialized area.

Part of the Goldberg Group’s new Columbus Commons shopping center, IKEA is expected to be the cornerstone of a brand new shopping megalopolis on Columbus Boulevard. For the most part, locals are embracing the revival of their neighborhood. IKEA is located on the run-down site of the former CSX rail yard, and roughly 20 percent of the estimated 380 employees are from South Philly.

“Our fellow neighbors in the Philadelphia area have welcomed us with open arms,” said Allesandra Taffe, store manager at the Philadelphia grand opening. “We know that IKEA Philly visitors will be able to achieve the home of their dreams with so many inspirational design ideas.”

IKEA is making quite a splash with the community and the furniture-buying public of Philadelphia, and with good reason. Like the rest of the city, you should check it out. Just make sure you have at least a dollar, and you are bound to leave with something good.

Ross Bercik can be reached at rbercik@temple.edu.

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