Thursday, December 18, 2008

TT# 25 - Ikea Comes to Winnipeg. Yawn.

Thirteen Thoughts about the New Ikea Store

So - there is going to be a new Ikea store in Winnipeg by 2012/13.  Buckle Up, Pilgrims.

  1. Nicholas Hirst wrote a great article in todays Wpg Free Press on the contradiction in the thinking of our civic leaders.  I may or may not refer to some of his points, and expound on them - but the subsequent rant below has been brewing for days. Our city needs more than a big blue building full of stuff.  Our civic leaders need mental floss to remove the congestion of old-thinking and to make room for a clear cool breeze of forward-thinking progress.  Paging Glenn Murray... at least he knew where to buy a clue (Montreal).                                                                                                              
  2. Do we REALLY need another big box retail store - especially one filled to the rafters with low priced mass-made furniture?  Aren't we over-mega-retailed as it is? How many more small independent businesses need to close as consumers flock to the foreign made imported goods that populate the big box stores? Count the empty storefronts on your next drive down any major street.  You'll need more than both hands and all your little piggies too.                                                                        
  3. Don't we really need to do something about the rampant consumerism that is crippling our society - both morally and economically? Is buying more stuff - or new stuff - going to lead to happiness, or is it just going to put another debt-laden bandaid on our collective culture of self-negation and self-worth issues?  Can we spend our way into wellbeing? I think not.  Say it with me now - I AM WORTH MORE THAN MY STUFF.  MY WORTH DOES NOT DEPEND ON MY STUFF.  MY STUFF DOES NOT MEASURE MY WORTH. I NEED LESS NOT MORE STUFF. and used stuff is good too.                                                                                                                                                
  4. Is someone going to put a plan in place to deal with the mountains of perfectly good furniture and household goods that will be "liberated" from their current homes but have years of usefullness left in them but are now destined to be sent to the landfills?  We need a plan, people - cause it won't all find its way to Value Village or other Thrift Stores.  Some cities have a curbside "citizen-reclamation" program - where furniture, etc is put on the curb on a certain day each month, and it is "open season" for people (not businesses) to pick it up.  Then arrangements are made to have it hauled away by whatever charity wants it.  Yes, enforcement is a problem - but at least it gets neighbors talking (about each other's bad taste in home decor).  We need to start actively promoting freecycle, kijiji, etc... or just rent trucks and go around yelling "bring out your dead" and furnish homes in the inner city.  Hands of Hope needs truck drivers - and trucks to deliver what they already have and can't find a way to distribute.  Can you lend a hand? strong back and four wheels - all that is required.  Or cash to buy gas for the trucks they have. More stuff, they don't need. They got lots to give away.                                                                                                                                                                  
  5. 400 jobs are nothing to be sneezed at. 400 jobs is a good thing. Good thing lots of local furniture retailers (and manufacturers too) have closed down in recent months so there will be no shortage of skilled and experienced labor - who deserve more than minimum wage and crappy shifts.                                                                                                                      
  6. will said jobs be minimum wage jobs? More than likely. It's hard to raise a family on minimum wage.  Hells Bells, its hard to be a student on minimum wage.  Min Wage is below the poverty line.  Can we rethink the meaning of the word "minimum"?                                                                                                                                                                                    
  7. will said jobs give benefits to both full time and part time workers? After how much tenure? The new "retail standard" of two years? People need benefits. Esp. if they need medication, or want to see a chiropractor, or wear glasses.                                                          
  8. what kind of working hours will be expected - what kind of crazy hours will the store be open (I remember when Chapters opened, it tried to be open from 8am to 11pm - which made for many unhappy staff. Bad enough we have Sunday shopping - and now we have to contend with 24 hour shopping). Retail employees have lives too. (I will someday write about how retail is the new slavery.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  9. How will these workers get to work? The entire Kenaston Mega-Shopping Mecca is WOEFULLY under-served for transit (read: none) - for shoppers but most importantly for employees.  So we can miraculously commit to widening two major streets because a RETAILER is moving in - but not just because we're building houses for families?  Where's the commitment to easy transit access for our citizens to help with climate change? AND _ How will the homes in that are be affected? Lots of people bought "out that way when it looked like the edge of the city. Now it's the middle of suburbia.  More cars. More traffic. More time spent idling at the railroad tracks - higher emissions.  Yummy.  Good thing most of these kids are driven to school - the walk just wouldn't be healthy. (sorry, can't find the link to the article with the stats, but will add it when I find it).                                                                                                                                                       
  10. And speaking of the environment - what about the impact of this store (and the whole Kenaston MegaPlex) on the environment? The geese are already confused enough when they fly over and see all their wetlands turned to parking lots.  There are deer - and other woodland creatures to consider.  How big and bad will the big blue box footprint be? Will they use solar generated energy? Have a wind turbine?  use composting toilets? recycle? Are there any minimum standards being negotiated, or have we rolled over on this completely?  Care to write a letter to Ikea and Mayor Sammie?                                                                                                                                  
  11. Do we really need another reason to spend money that most of us don't have? Really? honestly? Talk about seeing salvation in terms of increasing consumer debt.  Most of us are trying to spend less - and now the pressure increases exponentially - because we are lemmings and go with the herd.  We are trend followers, not trend setters.  The advertising blitz will be incredible.  People are already thumbing through the catalogue and post-it-note-ing themselves into a frenzy.  Highlighters are being worn down to tiny little nubs of felted inky yellowness.  Ikea is obviously an ancient Scandinavian word for "Furniture Religion".  Just wait til the grand opening. You won't believe your eyes. Trust me.                                                                                                                                                                         
  12. let's be honest. Their stuff isn't that great.  Now your living room will look like thousands of other people's living rooms. Wow.  Bet I know where you bought that lamp. People People People - true style is based on individuality - not conformity.  Dare you to be different.  Double Dog Dare you.  Yeah. Think of me when your foot crosses the threshold.                                                                                   
  13. Retail will not save the world. It will not save our culture.  It will not build communities.  It will not bring families closer.  It will not bring peace to the planet. It will not reverse climate change (not even MEC can do that).   Only we can - one choice at a time.  I choose to not get caught up in the Ikea frenzy, and to raise some of these points at every opportunity.  Join me.  We can't stop the river, but we can be a pebble in the pond. or in their shoe.

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1 comment:

  1. You mention benefits for ikea employees. I happen to know they do have benefits, rather good benefits actually, because I work at the insurance company that carries them. (no, I will not say which one, but our office is in Winnipeg, so I'm sure you can figure it out if you're that curious.)