Chair options are lined up on display.
Chair options are displayed in preparation for the grand opening of Ikea in Live Oak. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The beds are made and pillows fluffed, tables set and toys put into bins. It’s a seven-days-a-week job right now, but San Antonio’s new Ikea is nearly ready for its first customers to walk through the door.

A store manager led media tours Wednesday afternoon of the new Ikea store set to open in 21 days, months ahead of schedule, though perhaps not soon enough for eager fans of the Scandinavian shopping experience.

For months now, the massive blue building has been visible from intersecting highways in the far North East corridor, its yellow-lettered signs towering over a thousand-space parking lot. With plans to open in the spring of 2019, Ikea and Live Oak officials broke ground on the household goods store less than a year ago.

On Feb. 13, the fences now blocking the entrance will come down and the doors will open to a mammoth store already filled with 10,000 products. A nearly mile-long path through the 289,000-square-foot store is lit with LED directional arrows. Signs point the way to various departments, store shortcuts, and the Ikea restaurant.

And amid the scissor lifts and forklifts, the sounds of power drills and fire drills, hundreds of safety-vested workers are putting the finishing touches on stylized showrooms, making up the display beds, and stocking the shelves. Boxes, plastic wrap, and schematic plans are being cleared from the store’s multi-functional living spaces where assembly-required furnishings are displayed with traditional and contemporary lighting and decor.

Store Manager Diedre Goodchild said some aspects of the room designs are tailored to home trends and lifestyles in South Texas, taking into account that most homes here do not have basements and homeowners enjoy outdoor living.

The goal of room settings at Ikea is to reflect how people really live, Goodchild added, so customers can find the one that makes him or her say, “I need to live like this!”

For big items, like an upholstered sectional or closet storage system, shoppers can create a wish list using their mobile phones to take photos of price tags and then pick up the flat-packed item in the self-serve area. Delivery is also available, along with a fee-based assembly service.

Ikea is chock-full of smaller items, like kitchen gadgets, toys, and picture frames, which can fit in handheld baskets or rolling carts found throughout the store. Shoppers can also pick up pre-packaged foods from the store’s Swedish market, placed conveniently near check-out, like the meatballs Ikea is known for as well as cookies, candy, and coffee from Sweden.

On opening day, the store’s “as-is section” will be stocked with slightly damaged and thus discounted goods that didn’t quite make the cut for the showroom or that came from another warehouse.

And if all that shopping makes you hungry, the restaurant will be serving its full menu, and if the little ones get restless, Ikea’s supervised play area, Småland, will be open. Or you can steer the kids to “play tree” structures scattered around the store.

The cafeteria in Ikea.
The Ikea restaurant. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

For everything you need to know before you go, click here to read the Rivard Report’s take on shopping at Ikea, and here for store hours and more information provided on the Ikea Live Oak website.

When Ikea held the grand opening of its Oak Creek, Wisconsin, store in May 2018, reports estimated at least 1,000 people stood in a line that wrapped around the store, with some early-birds showing up at 1:30 a.m.

The Live Oak store will permit shoppers to begin lining up at 5 a.m. for the 9 a.m. store opening. Entertainment and giveaways will start at 6 a.m., store officials said.

Founded in Sweden in 1943, Ikea marked its 75th anniversary last year. Until now, the nearest Ikea to San Antonio was the store located in Round Rock, north of Austin. The Live Oak store will be Ikea’s 49th in the United States.

Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the business beat reporter at the San Antonio Report.