Did you hear? IKEA's in St Louis. That's a big deal for miles around, for people who think it's cool to drive 2-3 hours to buy trendy furniture. It's not that cool to the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, whose president, Rob Karr, says in a perfect Illinois, you would not think of shopping anywhere but Illinois.
“IKEA has, like several similarly situated retailers,” Karr says, “has carved out an almost cult following for themselves among certain segments of the populace, and that segment is certain to go wherever an IKEA appears.”
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The long-awaited St Louis opening could draw people who now shop at the company's stores in Bolingbrook and Schaumburg. Nevertheless, it means retail dollars leaving the state. Some would see a retail store as an attraction on the level of, say, the Gateway Arch and St Louis Zoo.
Karr did not have information on IKEA's siting decisions and does not blame fans for going across state lines.
Speaking of shopping, and travel, and Missouri, Karr would like Illinois to bring back the back-to-school sales tax holiday. “Missouri continues to have an extraordinarily successful one,” Karr says. “I know people – it's almost a religious pilgrimage for them – every August to go to Missouri, partly because Missouri includes computers in their holiday.”