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North of 96th - Lindsey

Welcome to North of 96th, your source for business news from Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield and Zionsville. Your host, Lindsey Erdody, can be reached at lerdody@ibj.com.

Boone County / Hamilton County / Regional News

Local demographics not a factor in Ikea selecting Fishers for new store

November 16, 2015

Ikea spent a decade sniffing around the central Indiana region before announcing its location for a new store. So what made it pick Fishers?

The Swedish home furnishing company is well-known for its affordable, ready-to-assemble offerings, but the northern suburb community has a reputation for being wealthier. Fishers has a median household income above $90,000, which nearly doubles the state’s median household income of $48,000. That doesn't so much scream do-it-yourselfer. 

But Ikea doesn’t research demographics like that when searching for new locations, according to spokesman Joseph Roth. Ikea is considered a destination retailer, attracting customers from hundreds of miles away, so it doesn’t have to rely on the residents living within the 5-10 mile radius.

While scouting sites in Indiana, Ikea officials had other requirements to meet. The location needed to be far enough away from Schaumburg and Bolingbrook, Illinois and West Chester, Ohio, where other Ikea stores already exist. It needed to be highly visible and easily accessible and the store needed to purchase 25-35 acres. The soil had to be able to support the massive store footprint and parking lot.

“So it's not like there’s an option at every exit in central Indiana,” Roth said.

And finally, the city needs to be supportive of having an Ikea come to town. With the expected economic draw from an Ikea store, it’s hard to imagine a community wouldn’t welcome the company with open arms, but it’s part of the checklist.

So do Fishers residents fit the description of the typical Ikea customer?

According to Roth, Ikea doesn’t actually have a “typical” customer.

“We capture folks in different phases of their home furnishing lives,” Roth said. That might be recent college graduate on a budget and empty nesters looking to downsize. “Ikea is for everyone—so whether your wallets are thick or thin, there’s something for you at Ikea.” 

Richard Feinberg, professor and interim department head of consumer science at Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, said Ikea stores have the potential to attract customers from 200 miles away.

For the Fishers location, visitors from Illinois are the most likely out-of-town customers.

He described the typical shopper between 20 and 40 years old and at the beginning of his or her working life. But acknowledged that’s not the only type of customer. He said he would expect upper-class families to be interested in the store as well as those shopping on a budget.

“Those people you’re talking about have very big houses,” Feinberg said. “Not all our houses, not all our rooms are furnished with high-end furniture.”

And even though Ikea isn’t relying on sales from Fishers residents, Feinberg predicts that many will be interested in shopping there.

“There’s a solid middle class in Fishers,” Feinberg said.

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