The team of LeAnn Hume, Andrea Nilson and Sara Shropshire know the local retail and restaurant scene inside-out. The trio from Cushman Wakefield Pacific Advisors works to lease up spaces all over the Treasure Valley.
During a taping of the BoiseDev podcast, we talked to the three ladies about when they think the area will get some of the big national brands that many folks are asking about. We played it as a game. Will we get each store soon, someday, or never?
The Sweden-based retailer of furniture (mostly) operates huge box stores in large metro areas across the country. IKEA stores usually sit on multiple levels and measure more than 300,000 square feet (that’s about the size of two Costcos).
Right now, the closest IKEA is in Draper, Utah – a cool 357 miles from Downtown Boise.
So. Soon, someday — or never?
“Someday,” Hume said without hesitation. “As soon as we hit a million people in our MSA.”
The MSA – government jargon for metropolitan statistical area, includes Ada, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee and Boise counties. At the moment, Census number crunchers peg the number of residents in that area at 730,426. And, you might have heard, that number is growing fast.
Nilson said she’s been working aggressively to court the store.
“They might have a restraining order against me right now,” she said. “I think I’ve called them no less than 35 or 40 times on the Vacant Macy’s box out in Nampa.”
That Macy’s store on Galleria Drive in Nampa has been vacant since 2017. It is just about 100,000 square feet, but with room on the site, it could plausibly be reworked to suit IKEA.
Shropshire said if and when IKEA does come to town, it’s a safe bet to see it somewhere in the Nampa or Meridian areas.
“That’s definitely the trend with these bigger users that want to come into the market,” she said. “They want to be in the middle.”
The Boise area has no shortage of places to grab a burger. But it is lacking one option: In-N-Out.
The California based burger joint features a restrained menu of the basics: Burgers, Fries, Shakes and Cokes.
The closely held family chain operates 347 stores primarily centered on the west cost, with a second cluster in Texas. Like IKEA, the closest stores for an Animal Style experience are in Utah.
According to Hume, In-N-Out is actually a bit overdue.
“I’ve been working on that for eight years now,” she said. “I was told eight years ago that they would be here in five years.”
The chain does not freeze its beef, which presents logistical challenges. Its growth pattern (with the exception of Texas), has radiated out from its headquarters in Los Angeles.
“The reason they are not here now is distribution,” Hume said. “They have to distribute fresh, so they can’t freeze (the beef).”
Hume said they continue to reach out and hope to lure them to the area.
Fans of the coffee and donuts retailer Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts), might not have as much good news on tap. America may ‘run on Dunkin’,’ but Idaho doesn’t.
“They think Boise is in Iowa,” Nilson said. “That’s how interested they are in us.”
Dunkin’ currently doesn’t operate a single store in a large portion of the northwest – including Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas — or Idaho of course.
“We went to them at our big conference in Las Vegas, and we said to them, ‘Idaho?,’ and they looked at me like I had two heads,” Nilson said.
“They think very highly of themselves,” Shropshire said.
Shake Shack is another burger joint with a hungry following. The concept started in New York City in 2001 and quickly expanded to nearly 170 stores in the US.
“They looked really hard at the market and decided, ‘maybe not right now,'” Shropshire said.
“We thought that might happen at one point, but they slowed down,” Hume said.
Shake Shack does operate in the region, with burger stands in the Salt Lake Valley as well as the Seattle area.
Shake Shack hit a snag on Wall Street today after it said it would temporarily close a number of locations to remodel and upgrade.