Brooklyn's IKEA Opening: Urban Grit and 99-Cent Mac and Cheese

Ikea Broklyn
Ikea Broklyn

Grand openings in New York are usually something to avoid at all costs, but yesterday, I had promised my 2-year-old a trip to the park and it was raining. So we all packed into the car for a 5-minute trip to the new IKEA in Red Hook, Brooklyn to check out their indoor play land.

In other towns, the opening of a big-box store might not be so game-changing, but IKEA has been controversial from the start because it is so not Red Hook, where even the shooting of "The Sopranos" was squashed by locals. A Fairway supermarket snuck in, just a few blocks away, but with its fresh produce and artsy feel, it has not engendered any bad feelings.

IKEA, on the other hand, is a giant blue and yellow monstrosity the peeks out from between abandoned factory buildings and loading dock cranes. It's parking lots cover wide swaths of shoreline and are ringed by low-slung townhouses in disrepair -- the gentrified converted lofts and luxury condos are still a few blocks over.

Judging by the crowd on opening day, it's going to be a huge success and a huge nightmare at the same time, just like the few other big-box stores in Brooklyn. Any time you mix huge volumes of people with discount merchandise, you're going to move a lot of product off the shelves and it's going to be messy.