Inside IKEA’s first cashless downtown store at Yonge and Gerrard

Inside IKEA’s first cashless downtown store at Yonge and Gerrard

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A prototypical part of the IKEA experience is finding yourself adrift among Billy bookcases, Hemnes bed sets and Poäng chairs in search of an exit—or at least a shortcut to the lightbulbs. But thanks to some Swedish shrinkage, there’s no chance of getting lost at the giant retailer’s newest location in Toronto. It’s dramatically smaller—at 66,000 square feet, it’s roughly a quarter of the size of the popular stores in Etobicoke and North York. It’s also downtown, inside a condominium tower no less. There are roughly 3,500 pieces on display over two levels, and, of course, there’s also a Swedish restaurant. Area office workers, take note: the meatballs with kimchi and scallion-topped potato salad make an excellent lunch. Here’s a look inside.


The reduced real estate is possible thanks to a cashless scheme and edited inventory that makes do without the spacious self-serve warehouse or football field-sized parking lot (though there is limited underground parking). The two-level store has taken over a space formerly occupied by Bed Bath and Beyond in the Aura Shopping Centre. It sits below the 80-storey Aura condo, the tallest residential skyscraper in Canada:

The Swedish Deli, a bite-size restaurant right off the entranceway, is a new concept to North America. The only other one can be found in London, England:

Inside, the shop still very much feels like IKEA, down to the sacks of Daim candy bars, cured salmon and indestructible crinkly blue bags. The Swedish Deli has chocolate-filled cookies and rye crackers snacks called Kafferep:

In traditional IKEA stores, the marketplace and open displays are on separate floors. Here, the items available for purchase are geared to small-space living. And you’ll quickly notice, everything is jumbled: customers will find Kavalkad Teflon pans next to frozen Swedish meatballs. Dinner is served:

A large part of the stock is displayed on Level 2—accessible by stairs or elevator—which is huge and airy and flooded in natural light. Big-ticket items, like couches and beds and clever full-scale apartment vignettes are still present but about 60 per cent of the items are take-away wares like pillows, plants and picture frames that can be carried on the subway:

The mini mezzanine eatery is right above the Swedish Deli and features classics like hot dogs ($1), cinnamon buns and muffins ($1.50), frozen yogurt on a cone ($2), and a vegan strawberry version, and meatballs in lingonberry sauce. In addition, there’s new go-tos like plant balls (veggie or chickpea), which are sided with green lentils, curry sauce, shaved parmesan and arugula or potato salad (starting at $5.49):

Here are some of the vignettes on the second floor:

The displays focus on compact rooms and using every inch of available space—vertical, horizontal or even slanted:

By 2030, IKEA wants to sell products made exclusively with recycled or renewable materials, like these eco-friendly baskets:

This location has a larger assortment of sustainable products, like this surfer-inspired line of artwork, fabric hats and stainless-steel water bottles:

Shoppers can swap out their flat pillows for one of these puffy and colourful options:

Here, cash is passé. You’ll have to pay the new-school way: scan as you go on the IKEA app for seamless check-out or use self-service kiosks. There are checkout lanes on both levels:

The store has a substantial plant section for those who can’t quit the green habit:

There are no info towers—those pods with pencils and a helper to assist you in navigating your latest harebrained reno idea—at this IKEA. Instead, there are stations like this one, where customers can source items to fit their plans:

There is an As-Is section for refurbished purchases and a returns area at the College Park entrance. They’ll also accept returns purchased at other locations, so downtown customers can save on gas:

382 Yonge St.,