Here are two thoughts inspired by the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea.
First, although each Ikea store is physically as large or larger than the typical Wal-Mart store, why doesn’t Ikea attract the same intensity of hostility that Wal-Mart attracts? Both companies are big-box retailers; both put extraordinary competitive pressures on existing, especially smaller, retailers; and neither specializes in selling top-of-the-line items. (My wife, Karol, asked this interesting question recently as we drove along an Interstate highway and noticed an Ikea store.)
Second, according to Forbes, Ikea’s owner, Ingvar Kamprad, is the world’s sixth-richest person, with a net worth of $23 billion. Take note: this man’s wealth is built on retailing — not exactly a new and pioneering line of work. And he retails (mostly wooden) furniture — not exactly new, cutting-edge items.