Ikea opens in Fishers, boosts economy
The newest location of Swedish superstore IKEA, which is located about 45 minutes away from campus, opened Wednesday, much to some students’s dismay.
For some students, such as Natali Cavanagh, a senior creative writing major who grew up about 10 minutes from the new Ikea, the proximity hits close to home and raises some concerns.
“Every time I come back home, something else has been built,” Cavanagh said.
Although she said the store was “not a surprise” to her, Cavanagh is sad to see the “charm” of her hometown diminish.
“The Fishers that I grew up with ... was a lot quieter, and downtown Fishers to me was always this cute little place that had the train station and all of these older more historic buildings,” Cavanagh said. “Now that’s just not what it’s going to be anymore.”
However, Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State, said that’s how markets work.
In fact, according to a study by Sven-Olov Daunfeldt et al. that Hicks peer reviewed, Ikea is unique from other big-box stores mostly in that it pulls in customers from much farther away than traditional brick and mortar retailers do.
With Ikea’s traditional focus on sustainability — globally by excluding the use of plastic bags, and locally by using one of the largest solar rooftops in Indiana and LED lighting in the store — this location will prosper, Hicks said.
Riley Sandel, a senior architecture major who lived in Fishers for four years, said he will “most certainly” visit Ikea, but not without being aware of what he said is economic elitism.
“[Development] is another way Fishers is setting itself apart from lower economic brackets and creating a direct node of a certain type of wealth,” Sandel said in an email. “Big box stores add to the debatably parasitic nature of suburban sprawl, of which Fishers residents know all too well.”
Though that’s not to say Sandel hates big-box stores — he doesn’t. However, he said “international economic control” and local prosperity must balance out.
Hicks said this is already happening in Fishers.
“I think Hamilton County is doing a pretty good job of allowing [development] to happen without destroying the fabric of downtown,” Hicks said, referring to how chain stores don’t dominate the area.
Potential traffic concerned Cavanagh as well, calling congestion around the exit for Ikea on Interstate 69 a “nightmare.”
Hicks said adjustments to increasing traffic will be slow, but no transportation catastrophes will happen as a result of the new store.
“You can never stamp out congestion. If you build a highway, people are going to move to it so it’s going to be like it is in Washington, D.C. There’s going to be construction on I-69 and 465 forever,” Hicks said.
Some students braved the highway to get opening-day deals Wednesday. Jaime Leu, a junior special education major, went just for "fun" and won an armchair, a $150 gift card and a T-shirt.
"We met amazing people," Leu said. "The Pacers cheerleaders and mascot were there and we got to meet them. There was a live band playing. It was a little rainy and cold but definitely worth it."
Opening giveaways extend through Sunday with prizes such as cookware sets, bedspreads and a year's supply of Swedish meatballs.
Contact Sara Barker with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sarabarker326.