ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Perhaps because I recently wrote about the popularity of new chain restaurants in Albuquerque, I’ve been hearing from readers about other national or global names they’d like to see in the Duke City.
Among them is furniture giant Ikea. And by giant, I mean really, truly massive.
A new Ikea under construction in the Kansas City area will be about 359,000 square feet, while a forthcoming Miami location will check in at 417,000 square feet.
By comparison, a Wal-Mart Supercenter typically inhabits just 182,000 square feet.
A community needs people — and lots of them — to make it worth the company’s while.
Spokesman Joseph Roth said Ikea typically only moves into trade areas with at least 2 million people. That’s 2 million within 40-60 miles or within a 40- to 60-minute drive.
“I’m not familiar with the exact population of Albuquerque, but I don’t believe it’s quite 2 million yet,” Roth told me recently. “If it were, we’d be looking at it.”
Albuquerque is, in fact, nowhere near 2 million: The Census Bureau estimates Albuquerque’s population at 555,000 with its entire metropolitan statistical area — including Rio Rancho, Moriarty, Los Lunas and Belen — at 902,000. Stretching the bounds to Santa Fe doesn’t help much; the Santa Fe metro adds only 146,000 people.
So the Duke City is not, as Roth put it, on the company’s horizon right now.
“When I get asked ‘What can we do to get an Ikea here?’ the biggest thing you can do is grow your population,” Roth said. “Right now, that’s the biggest driver.”
Ikea’s selectivity means that the global brand has just 38 locations in the U.S. It can go years without opening a new location on American soil, “so we’re not everywhere,” Roth said.
The silver lining for Albuquerque fans?
There are Ikea stores within a few hundred miles: There’s a location in Tempe, Ariz., and a store in the Denver area.