OAK CREEK -- It's been a buzz in the community for a long time but the countdown to IKEA opening its doors is less than a week away.
The Swedish store opened its doors to the media on Wednesday to give a sneak peek of what customers can expect. This building is just one floor as compared to the standard two-floor model. It gives the company more flexibility with creating designs for customers to be inspired by.
If you've never been to an IKEA, the layout is like no other shopping experience. The design is called a "neighborhood." It feels like walking through a suburban, city or rural area with all of the different options for rooms, kitchens, living rooms and more. All the while, you're walking down a gray "street" with lighted arrows from above showing you the way. But you don't need to be worried about looking through the windows in this neighborhood.
"When you're walking down the streets sometimes, you see someone's window is open and you're like, that's really pretty but you don't want to look into their house because it's kind of creepy," Tish Bracy, Public Affairs Manager for IKEA said. "Here, you can actually look into someone's house."
Bracy says the idea is to help inspire folks in decorating or setting up their homes. It has the most basic to the most intricate setups for kids through adults.
"When you're home, the first area your guests walk into is the living room," Bracy said. "When you walk through the store, we go through each area of the house. Dining room, kitchens, home organization and finally decor. At every point in your home, we're giving you inspiration and lots of ideas on what you can do."
But it's not just IKEA's entire catalog on the showroom floor. The pieces they've selected have Wisconsin in mind.
"We are showing a variety of sofas and loveseats as the homes in the area have a little smaller space," Samantha Gravina, IKEA Manager said. "We decided to show what we think the market or the customers here in Wisconsin would be looking for. But we can't forget basements. That's important to families. We do have a variety of sectionals you can build, customize, change shape or go with a simple solution."
But with all of the options and different neighborhoods, one can work up quite the appetite. The roads lead right to a 300-seat restaurant in the store. This is a part of the different layout as well, since most of the stores have the restaurant at the end near the checkout. This marks a halfway point of sorts for customers to take a break and replenish themselves.
"They love coming to the restaurant," Peter Ho, Corporate Chef for IKEA North America said. "It actually breaks up their shopping experience."
"You can get your meatballs, fill up and continue shopping," Bracy said.