Ikea is open for business – with Red Hook residents manning the store.
As part of its deal with the community, Ikea gave neighborhood residents first crack at the store’s 500 jobs, and it seems many locals took the Swedish giant up on its offer.
During a trip to the store, which is located at 1 Beard Street, bargain-loving visitors were greeted by Brooklynites working in the Swedish meatball-filled food court and cheap chic showroom.
“It was a big opportunity for a lot of people in Red Hook like myself,” said Yasmin Rokman, a Red Hook resident.
“It’s great because we need jobs out here,” said Faith McFadden, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident working in the restaurant.
Rokman, who has four kids, is excited about the possibility of advancing in the workplace.
“I have the chance to move to different departments,” she said.
“That was the most beautiful thing they could do for the community,” said Flatbush resident Armando Reid as he sliced a delectable baked ham. “The people that are working here are a bunch of great people.”
While strolling around the store, employees had bright smiles on their faces and happily greeted visitors.
Louie Fernandez, deputy store manager, said Ikea’s employees built the showrooms and assembled all the furniture in just four weeks.
“The interesting thing was that most of our co-workers had never put together anything by hand,” he said. “By the end of the first week, they were so happy that they had put something together by hand.”
“It’s going to do a lot for the community. I think it’s going to turn it around. I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Katie Osthoff, who relocated from Orlando, Florida, to Midwood for the Ikea opening.
©2008 Community News Group
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