In six weeks, Wisconsin’s first IKEA store will open its doors. Inside the massive building at West Drexel Avenue and I-94 in Oak Creek, workers are busy unpacking displays and merchandise that are being delivered in anticipation of the thousands of customers that have awaited the Swedish furniture retailer for a decade.
“People keep asking if we are nervous about the opening,” said store manager Samantha Gravina. “I say, ‘No, we’re retailers. We are ready.’”
IKEA has hired close to 300 people to work at the store and plans on hiring another 150 to 200 seasonal employees. IKEA will open May 16.
Upon entering the massive, 295,000-square-foot store, shoppers will see a row of rooms set up for various occasions.
The Oak Creek store includes a single apartment room, a living room that could accommodate children and a basement design, which Gravina said most IKEAs don’t include.
“It’s our nod to Wisconsin, which has basements,” Gravina said. “It’s unique to some of the areas in the Midwest. If you go south, you are under sea level.”
Once shoppers leave the front of the store, they can begin to shop. Sections include sofas, kitchens, window treatments and children’s toys and accessories.
Another nod to Wisconsin is T-shirts employees were given with “Hej ‘Der Milwaukee” imprinted on the front.
The store is located on 29 acres at the northwestern corner of I-94 and West Drexel Avenue on land owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. It will anchor a larger, mixed-use development, although future tenants have not yet been announced.