Swedish furniture retailer IKEA can’t open its 300,000 s.f. carton yet in the community of East Palo Alto, California. On March 5th, the question of an IKEA store was on the ballot in this city — but the vote on “Measure C” was so close, that San Mateo County officials won’t have a final vote tally until next Wednesday, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Unofficial tallies show that the IKEA was approved by only 75 votes out of 2,715 votes cast — but about 200 absentee ballots were still being verified. City officials, who favored the store, sold it mainly on economic grounds, saying that IKEA would “create” 550 jobs and $1.8 million in revenue. They did not measure how many jobs and how much revenue would be “destroyed” by the store when smaller furniture outlets closed. IKEA reportedly outspent its opponents by six fold. The company hired chauffered Lincoln Town Cars to drive voters to the polls. “We were a few limousines short,” one IKEA opponent told the San Jose Mercury News. “Maybe we had enough money for a bicycle or two.” IKEA meanwhile has already moved ahead as if it had won Measure C, and is planning to open an office in town where locals can go to get info about the company. IKEA has also offered to give tours of its other store in nearby Emeryville. Opponents of the IKEA said the company used dirty tactics and money to narrowly gather more votes, including the destruction of anti-IKEA lawnsigns.
IKEA has encountered strong local opposition to its stores before. It was driven out of New Rochelle, New York when it tried to destroy an entire neighborhood of stores, businesses, residences and churches. And in Somerville, Massachusetts, area residents organized to oppose the huge box store. To learn more about IKEA battles, search this database by the word “IKEA”. If this company comes to your town, watch out for Lincoln Town Cars as a ride to the polls.