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IKEA to open soon

Swedish furniture giant IKEA opens in Charlotte six weeks from today. The company's debut in the Carolinas is highly-anticipated, but also comes at a risky time for retail. The current economy is less-than-ideal for opening new stores - let alone one the size of six football fields. Holiday sales were way down. Unemployment is way up. Many stores are slashing prices or cutting back on staff. But IKEA spokesman Joseph Roth says the company is sticking to its original plan for 400 Charlotte workers and massive blue and yellow building full of inexpensive furniture. "If anything, the current economy just draws more attention to the need to focus on affordable home furnishings," says Roth. "If it makes more people appreciate good value for your money, then great." And recession or not, Roth still expects hordes of eager shoppers to line up at IKEA Charlotte days before the grand opening on February 18th. The Swedish company's sleek product designs and low prices inspire cult-like enthusiasm and draw shoppers from hundreds of miles away. Charlotte officials estimate the store will also earn the city half a million dollars a year in new sales and property tax revenues each year.