IKEA store in Merriam generating excitement, hiring begins soon

Joseph Roth and Rob Parsons filled the crowd in on IKEA's plans at a Northeast Johnson County Chamber lunch Thursday.
Joseph Roth and Rob Parsons filled the crowd in on IKEA’s plans at a Northeast Johnson County Chamber lunch Thursday.

IKEA is coming! IKEA is coming!

Yes, even though that is old news, it is still an exciting development for northeast Johnson County because an international retailing icon has landed right here in our own backyard. With only a few more months to wait for the store opening, a full house turned out for the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce February luncheon to meet the new store manager and hear about IKEA’s plans for its Merriam store.

Rob Parsons is the store manager announced this week who represented IKEA along with Joseph Roth, head of public affairs for IKEA in the United States. The company now has 349 stores in 43 countries.

The Merriam store, now under construction at I-35 and Johnson Drive will open this fall, but Parsons said recruitment and hiring the store employees is nearly ready to begin. The store expects to create 300 jobs with 50 management positions, which will be hired first. The IKEA representatives received applause when they revealed that employees at 20 hours per week or more are eligible for full benefits. Turnover at IKEA is less than half the industry standard, they said.

Before the store opens, it will have created 500 construction jobs. The store will have a typical IKEA layout with the showrooms, restaurant, and children’s play area. Sustainability is a cornerstone for IKEA so there are no plastic bags, lighting will be LED and it will use a geothermal heating and cooling system.

IKEA has 90,000 existing customers in the Kansas City market and the store is expected to be a regional draw for customers. Because shoppers generally spend two to three hours in a store, more parking is needed – 1,200 spaces at Merriam – including an underground level. Even that won’t be enough for the grand opening celebrations. The store is making special arrangements to handle the crowds.

IKEA usually spurs other development. Other furniture stores, restaurants and hotels often locate nearby, Roth said. Already, Hobby Lobby has plans to build next to IKEA.

One warning: if your only IKEA experience has been at the Schaumburg, IL store, don’t expect the same size, it is a one of a kind. And the name – it’s an acronym. Check the explanation here.