More than 400 supporters of the Westchester Residents Against IKEA Now (WRAIN) jammed their cars into the City Park neigbhorhood of New Rochelle today to simulate what it would be like if a 304,000 IKEA furniture superstore were built in this community. As we explained on 3/5/00 (see newsflash below), the Mayor of New Rochelle and the City Council have voted to declare the City Park community a “blighted” area to allow IKEA to obtain the land from the city once the eminent domain proceedings are done. But hundreds of protestors wearing “IKEA is a Bad Idea” signs rallied in front of a local church that will be demolished along with 65 other residential and commercial properties along the New Rochelle/Mamaroneck border. Public officials in the neighboring communities of Larchmont and Mamaroneck are opposed to the project. Westchester County in 1992 had 449 furniture stores, so there is no shortage of loveseats in the trade area. 2,666 workerw depend on retail furniture sales in the county for their livlihood, and an IKEA is expected to substantially derive its sales from existing merchants. One women, watching hundreds of cars drive by with their lights on in protest of IKEA remarked: “It looks like a funeral.” Another resident responsed: “It is. It’s IKEA’s funeral.” No one is sure where IKEA’s $50 million in sales will come from, since Westchester County residents already spend 42% more per capita on furniture than the rest of New York state. If IKEA takes 60% of its sales from existing merchants, it would represent a loss of $30 million to existing furniture stores. The project is now in the Environmental Review stage under state law, and a possible legal challenge to eminent domain attempts could toss the IKEA timetable into the back seat. Ironically, a New York Court ruled today that the anti-IKEA demonstrators could not bring in 600 cars to the rally area because of a threat to public safety from that many vehicles. That happens to be the projected number of cars that IKEA would bring to City Park every day. IKEA is a private company with 13 US stores, and total company sales of $70 billion.
For more information about the “IKEA is a Bad Idea” Campaign or WRAIN, contact [email protected]