When a Big Store Goes Local

IKEA opened its long-anticipated store in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and local business owners don't seem to mind.
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The verdict is in. The new IKEA store in Red Hook, Brooklyn is a hit!

Several hundred people lined up outside of the yellow and blue building for days, putting up with cold rain and hard concrete just so they could be the first ones to step foot inside the Swedish emporium. And since the store opened on June 18, lines of customers have remained strong and steady, all hoping to purchase a shaggy rug or leather arm chair. But the opening meant more to the residents and business owners of this quirky Brooklyn neighborhood than to the shoppers themselves.

When IKEA announced plans to open a store in Red Hook, Brooklyn way back in 2002, it was met some raised eyebrows.

How would it affect the area

? Would local businesses suffer? Will Red Hook lose its small town neighborhood image?

On June 18, the doors of the Swedish furniture store finally opened, and those questions were answered.

There are 35 IKEA stores through the U.S., with two more expected to open in 2009. In 2005, IKEA promised to open at least one store every year for the next 10 years - and with each store comes a slew of new job openings.

IKEA hired 600 new employees for the Brooklyn location alone.

The company gave preference to Red Hook residents, most of whom are in their late teens to early 20s. And, they're all excited to work for the Swedish corporation.

It must have something to do with the benefits

. IKEA employees receive full medical and dental insurance, even if they only work 20-hour weeks - and domestic partners and children are included in the plan. Paid maternity leave, tuition assistance, flexible work schedules and

a 401(k) plan

all round out the perks of being employed by the corporation.

But, it's not just the employees who are reaping the benefits of the neighborhood's newest addition. Even other area furniture owners are excited about a potential boom in clientele, and all plan on heading to IKEA once the crowds thin out.

MainStreet caught up with local business owners, and found out why they welcomed IKEA with open arms. (And, note one person's horrified reaction to the notion of a different retailer coming to town instead of Ikea!)

To watch MainStreet's Ikea video,

click here