Scott Ball / Rivard Report
An Ikea of our very own. Ja, it’s enough to make fans of the Scandinavian megastore start speaking Swedish.
For nine months now, San Antonio has watched and waited as Ikea, the famous furniture retailer founded in Sweden, broke ground and constructed its 49th U.S. store in its very own backyard. The good news is the store is opening its doors far ahead of the anticipated summertime opening.
Ikea Live Oak will be the company’s fifth location in Texas. Until now, the nearest Ikea to San Antonio was the store in Round Rock, north of Austin and easily a two-hour drive in traffic. That journey is no more for those who want to take in the smorgasbord of home decor offerings and Swedish meatballs Ikea is known for.
With the opening date officially set for Feb. 13, store workers have already begun assembling furniture, setting up displays, and training “co-workers,” as employees are known at Ikea.
Thus, it’s time to get out those tape measures and Allen wrenches, fold down the rear seats in the hatchback, and plan a day of touring and shopping for affordable, ready-to-assemble furniture for every room in your home.
Here’s what you need to know before you go.
The store is located at the southwest corner of Interstate 35 and Loop 1604, approximately 15 miles northeast of downtown San Antonio. Just look for the giant building in “Ikea blue.”
On opening day, customers can begin queuing up at the store at 5 a.m. – no earlier. The line will wrap around the north side of the building. Store manager Diedre Goodchild, a 23-year Ikea employee who moved here from Washington to open the store, said Ikea co-workers will admit customers in an orderly fashion.
Through opening weekend, Ikea Live Oak will have activities, entertainment, and giveaways, to include toys, grab bags, and gift cards.
There’s an app with a map
While you wait, download the Ikea app and sign up for the store’s loyalty program, Ikea Family. Goodchild said that is the key not only to navigating the maze that is Ikea and finding shortcuts to an exit, but also previewing the goods online before you go.
The app alerts you to discounts and prize drawings, plus it's how you'll earn a free cup of coffee and extra time at Småland, the activity center for kids.
As you browse the store, you can use the app to keep track of the things you want to purchase and then show it at checkout for faster service. Or use paper and pencil, your choice.
Where to park
Though there are enough parking spaces on Ikea’s 31-acre property for 1,000 pickup trucks, minivans, and whatever you decide to drive to haul your purchases home, the lot may fill up during the first days the store is open. Auxiliary parking and shuttles will be provided for the overflow.
Pro tip: If you do plan to pick up new furnishings, measure your cargo space beforehand.
Some things in Ikea life are free
Here’s what won’t cost you a single krona: pencils, paper, tape measures, store guides, catalogs, shopping carts, shopping bags, and strollers.
Even the supervised children’s play area, Småland, named for the Ikea founder’s hometown in southern Sweden, is free for an hour. To enter, kids must be between 37 and 54 inches in height and potty-trained. Note that Småland will be in high demand on weekends, holidays, and school holidays, so you may have to wait to get in.
Shopping in 101 words
There are three main areas to the store – the showroom, the market hall, and a self-service furniture area. The showroom features 40 room sets designed to show you what it would feel like to live in an Ikea-furnished space. You can sit, lie down, fold out the sofa bed, turn on lamps, open the cabinets – the rule here is to make yourself at home.
The market hall carries many different items, from rugs and linens to kitchen utensils and wall decor. The self-service furniture area is where you can grab the flat-packed items you want to purchase and assemble at home.
PS. There’s also an as-is section, Ikea’s version of the scratch-and-dent sale with markdowns varying depending on the defect, most of which are minor.
Come for the furniture, stay for the food
“People do come just for the food,” Goodchild said. “Everybody is in the market for food.” In addition to the Swedish meatballs, Ikea has recently added salmon balls and a veggie dog. The menu also includes kids meals, organic and vegetarian options, healthy choices, and other Swedish classics.
For $2, you can get a Swedish breakfast of eggs, potatoes, pancakes, and sausage or bacon. The American breakfast is just $1.
The restaurant at the Live Oak store seats 359 and features wall-to-wall windows overlooking a hill planted with wildflower seed. (Did you know the word “window” comes from the Old Norse language for wind-eye?)
If you can’t stay to dine, there’s a food market of takeaway items and a bistro-style snack bar you can hit on the way out the door.
So you ride a bike?
An Ikea store features 10,000 exclusive items. Fear not – delivery options in the San Antonio area start at $59.
It's not all DIY.
Other services the store offers for a fee include furniture assembly and kitchen design planning.