Rochester, N.Y. – Upstate New York residents have long wanted an IKEA store. The Swedish furniture retailer has about 300 stores in 26 countries and legions of fans.
“Our whole bedroom is decorated with IKEA,” said Alan Braun. “We have to drive all the way down to New Jersey to get our stuff.”
“I just remember being completely awed walking in that store and they had a restaurant in there and everything. It was just cool,” said Sean Wrench.
“I was actually wanting to go to Philadephia next week for various reasons, one of which would be to go to IKEA,” said Chistiana Reader.
It turns out Monroe County has tried to lure IKEA in the past. County Executive Maggie Brooks said the county first approached the chain about nine years ago. The county wanted to see if IKEA was interested in Irondequoit Mall.
“IKEA that needs type of space to exist, so we just thought, what the heck, let’s take a shot,” said Brooks. “The thinking behind it was it’s an amazing store, first of all. It’s a destination for a lot of people. With 19 colleges and universities, a lot of young professionals in this region, we thought it was a great fit.”
IKEA wasn’t interested. The county again tried a couple years ago, this time without a specific location in mind.
“Got as far as a senior vice president,” said Brooks. “The response we got was IKEA chooses communities. Communities don’t choose IKEA.”
An IKEA spokesman, who said he gets asked about Upstate New York a lot, explained why IKEA took a pass. “We typically need an approximate base of two million people and it has to be within a certain trade area,” said Joseph Roth. “So we couldn’t lump Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo together.”
The closest IKEA store to Rochester is in Burlington, Ontario, which is 133 miles away. In the United States, the closest store is in Pittsburgh, which is 250 miles away.
“Not sure we’re giving up,” said Brooks. “We continue to work kind of under the radar, but they have their own set of requirements for where they go and why they go there. But I think it would be great for the community.”
Rochesterians hope IKEA changes its mind.
“I think it would make my wife very happy,” said Pete Morgante. “It would cost me a lot of money, but make her very happy so I’m all for it.”
“They have really cheap, quality items,” said Hannah McRae. “I think it would be great for Rochester.”