Saturday, June 22, 2024

Petition launched by Victoria radio hosts to bring IKEA to Vancouver Island

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Some Vancouver Islanders feel they’ve been neglected for too long and are demanding IKEA bring their hot dogs, Swedish meatballs and affordable furniture to the island. 

Bailey and Johnny from Virgin Radio’s morning show have become the heroes Victoria needs by trying to pave the way for an IKEA warehouse location to become a fixture of Vancouver Island life. 

IKEA has become a weekend destination for Victorians and Vancouver Islanders who want to shop for new furniture on a budget. People will pile in a vehicle and pool their money for a ferry ticket to get to the IKEA in Richmond or Coquitlam — their closest options. This isn’t the only way to reach the Swedish housewares megastore, but it is the cheapest.

Roundtrip, a ‘run’ to IKEA takes upwards of 5 hours and costs over $200 before even walking through the warehouse’s front entrance. 

The radio show duo began their campaign to bring an IKEA to the island after reading an article about businesses looking to expand across Canada in the next couple years. 

“There was Dollarama, there was a French coffee chain called Columbus Coffee, but there was also IKEA and it said they were looking at opening nine new locations by 2025,” Johnny told Victoria Buzz. 

“We’re like, why can’t Vancouver Island be a part of that?”

Victoria had an IKEA back in the 1980s, however the location on the corner of Yates Street and Vancouver Avenue was nothing like what the store is today. 

“It was just like one of those showroom style ones way back then [in the 80s], and that was before IKEA really became what it is today, in the 90s,” said Johnny.

Some islanders are getting technical with the Virgin morning show’s campaign, saying that they should really be calling on the furniture store to “bring IKEA back to the island.”

“If you close your eyes and imagine an IKEA in your mind, you’re thinking about the giant blue building with the two floors and the restaurant — that’s what we’re thinking, that’s what we want to bring here,” said Bailey. 

“We’ve never had that here so technically we are right saying, ‘bring an IKEA,’ because what they had in the 80s was not IKEA, it’s not the IKEA that we know today.”

Currently, there is a ‘collection point’ for IKEA located in Saanichton. Bailey and Johnny went to the location at Oldfield Road, just off Keating Cross Road to find a building devoid of any branding or signage saying it’s IKEA affiliated. Bailey and Johnny protested outside the building for a real IKEA to replace it.

“It’s very frustrating,” Bailey explained. “You can’t buy everything off the IKEA website to even get it delivered to you.”

“I was trying to buy some stuff, I was like, ‘okay, everyone keeps saying you can just order it online,’ so I go and put four items in my cart. Only two of them were available to be delivered and the other two didn’t even have delivery as an option.”

Victoria specifically is a city with numerous furniture store options; however, most of these locations are more expensive and higher quality than furniture from Ikea and not everyone can afford their prices.

Some people are worried that a corporate store like IKEA could make these businesses close their doors, but Bailey and Johnny believe there is room for both IKEA and local retailers to exist and thrive in the region. 

“It would be great to have something like an IKEA that fits that pricepoint of someone looking for affordable furniture,” said Bailey. “We’ve got every other pricepoint here — we’ve got mid-level and we’ve got high-level stores.”

“I think those stores will be fine because they cater to a different audience.” 

“IKEA is for students, people that are freshly moving here, people that are in lower-income situations, but if you are in a financial situation where you can afford a $3,000 couch, you’re going to go where you can find that $3,000 couch, you aren’t even thinking about IKEA.”

Bailey and Johnny have a petition they started which they say now has over 700 signatures. They hope this petition will gain enough traction to be able to bring it to IKEA in a meaningful way so that the store is an actual reality for Vancouver Islanders. 

“The end goal of this is that we want to get kind of a definitive answer either way about, ‘yes we can get one here,’ or why exactly we won’t be getting one here,” Bailey explained. 

The duo aren’t picky about where the potential IKEA would be situated on the island. They think it would do well near Nanaimo, Duncan or in Saanichton where the current collection point is located. 

“To serve as many people as possible, it would probably make the most sense somewhere in the Westshore or in Nanaimo so it’s right in the middle of the island,” Bailey told Victoria Buzz. 

Until IKEA graces Vancouver Island with its presence, Bailey and Johnny brought up one viable and locally run business that can get people the IKEA goods they need — Add2Cart.

Add2Cart makes consistent runs to IKEA and other large chain stores that Vancouver Islanders don’t have immediate access to and will bring back whatever you order from them. Instead of charging a $150 fee for shipping which is what IKEA would make you pay to pick up from the collection point, they only charge approximately $30 for large orders and $15 for larger orders. 

The company, which is owned and operated by a couple Vancouver Islanders, will also assemble your order for you for an added fee, according to Bailey and Johnny. 

Sign the petition if you want an IKEA to come to Vancouver Island, and you can listen to Bailey and Johnny’s progress in their campaign weekday mornings on Virgin 107.3 FM from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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