OMG! IKEA!

 

Well, Indy has finally made it. We’re about to get an IKEA store of our very own.

Actually, the new IKEA home furnishings store, all 296,000 square-feet of it, will be in Fishers. But hey, what are suburbs for, if not to provide the space necessary for such a sprawling shopping experience? Now we know why there’s Unigov.

The store will be located on an Interstate, I-69, at 116th St. A few grumps, whose homes are doubtless crowded with inherited antiques, have complained about the impact IKEA will have on local traffic congestion. But Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness has told these party poopers not to worry: the place doesn’t open until 10 in the morning!

What’s more, Mayor Fadness thinks IKEA might exert a salutary influence on the quality of Metro matrimony: "I'm really encouraged by the amount of couples' skill-building that will occur," he told the Indianapolis Star, referring to the you-assemble-it nature of most IKEA stuff.

For years now, Indy design freaks have had to make pilgrimages to either Cincinnati, heretofore the closest IKEA location, or Shaumberg, the squishily-named Chicago suburb located along a stretch of expressway that, on a good day, drives like an outtake from Death Race 2000.

Now, all we have to do is find a way to wait until 2017. That’s when the local IKEA’s cash registers will start humming, exactly like they do in other cities.

Somehow this Swedish brand has managed the mystical feat of making itself a kind of marker for contemporary urbanism. Forget the fact that most IKEA stores are too big to fit in most urban locations, consumers feel their communities aren’t quite worthy until the franchise plants its flag within easy driving distance.

Just as Indianapolis needed to host a Superbowl to demonstrate its Big Time bonafides, so it’s been with IKEA. Until we got one to call our own, we didn’t measure up.

Indy still can’t shake this small market fixation. For all the city’s growth and progress over the past 25 years, it still seems insecure about its urban identity. To compensate for its lack of Big Shoulders, or a Big Apple, it has gone out of its way to try and attract the kinds of major league brands that are identified with Big City Living. It’s the, “Sure we’ve got one of those,” syndrome.

This, of course, overlooks many of the qualities that lend Indianapolis its unique character — from its mostly human scale, to the ineffable blend of southern and northern Americana that finds subtle expression in many city neighborhoods.

Choosing the right words to describe this Indianapolis has proven difficult; it’s not surprising that many of us have fallen back on the shorthand provided by consumer culture. It’s not for nothing one of the biggest mall developers in the world, Simon, has its corporate headquarters within spitting distance of Monument Circle.

So it’s with a mixture of relief and jubilation that we check the box labeled IKEA on Indy’s urban bucketlist. It only took them 41 cities to get here.

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