Over the past week, Halifax has been abuzz with news of Swedish furniture mogul Ikea’s new location set to open in Dartmouth Crossing.
Ikea is a warehouse-style store that sells low-cost, stylized furniture.
The stores often include restaurants, coffee shops and play areas.
According to a media release from the company, the 30,500-square-metre store is slated to be finished in 14 to 16 months and will provide almost 500 jobs.
But there may be some downsides.
Six years ago, Gordon Stevens started I Love Local, a collective of independent shops and restaurants in Halifax.
The collective encourages Haligonians to shop at local businesses instead of big-box retailers.
“It really comes down to making our community unique and prosperous,” says Stevens.
“The economic benefits of shopping locally are fairly well documented, but for us it’s really about repaying that unique character of a city that you wouldn’t get if you lost the local business flavour.”
Ikea’s global revenue in 2015 exceeded 31 billion euros, with approximately $1.7 billion coming from Canadian stores.
Stevens says Ikea’s arrival may have an effect on local furniture retailers.
“There’s no question; when you put a single store of this size that has over a hundred million dollars in sales, that it’s going to have an impact,” says Stevens.
“There certainly will be new people, new potential customers coming to town, but I don’t think that will fully offset the fact that you’ve got one company that’s going to suck a hundred million dollars in sales from the economy. Those aren’t new dollars, they’re going to come from somewhere else.”
One furniture retailer is more optimistic.
Matina AuCoin, owner of Zephyr Rug and Home on Quinpool Road in Halifax, says she’s excited about Ikea’s opening.
“I am in favour of anything that brings jobs to Halifax, or the Halifax-Dartmouth area,” she says.
“People are going to be ordering (online) from Ikea anyway, so why not have the money spent locally, at a local Ikea, versus it going to the Montréal one?”
“I don’t think it will affect me here at Zephyr, because we have completely different objects that we sell. Most of my big pieces are Canadian-made, versus it coming from offshore.”
Stevens says that for now, it’s hard to tell what the impact will be.
The new Dartmouth Ikea will be the only one in Atlantic Canada, with the second-closest store located in Montréal.
The new store is a result of Ikea’s expansion plan to nearly double its national store count in Canada within the next 10 years.
The first Ikea store in Canada operated in Dartmouth between 1975 and 1988.
Ikea could not be reached for comment.