Monday, December 8, 2008

Cliffnotes for visiting Ikea

-Ikea is not just a furniture store. It’s a process. They have a cafeteria (and a small Swedish grocery store at checkout for your Swedish food needs), a daycare, showrooms, marketplace, pick up items, delivery, loading station—and when you thought you had escaped the big blue and yellow giant, he follows you home and watches you spend hours upon hours putting together furniture using the “easy” directions. Just plan to have your day taken over by Ikea.

-Understand how the store works. The first time I ventured to Ikea country I was with my mom, and buying for my first apartment. Overly eager, I ran into each “room” on the first floor picking up throw pillows, a picture frame, vase, small rug, clock, fake books, (fake books?? Who makes fake books? Actually, who buys fake books?). I was browsing the 250sqft apartment, thinking it would be much cooler to live in this teeny tiny box than my new apartment, when my mom caught up with me. Catching her breath she informed me I couldn’t pick up items on the second floor, I had to mark down the items I liked on the handy booklet given to each customer at the entrance…then retrieve them on the first floor. Duh. I sheepishly retraced my path putting each item back in its place while smirking customers watched nearby. Clearly, I was new here.

- Don’t fall for the furniture testers. It’s a pretty sweet idea—not only are you drawn to the tester because it’s machinery moving on it’s own in the middle of a stationary furniture store, but then you find out Ikea furniture is durable! You stand there, enthralled, as the drawer opens, and shuts, opens, and shuts, and you become confident Ikea is looking out for you and your well being. But look a little closer, easily fooled customer, and you’ll make out the pile of wood dust on the floor from the constant scraping of the drawer, not to mention the paint peeling off the side from being opened so many times. You=1, Ikea=0.

-Ikea wants to make you fat. Immediately after breezing through the front doors you are hit with the delicious smell of carbohydrates—easily accessible right after you get off the escalator. How convenient! You decide that because you’re in a Swedish store, you might as well try out some Swedish food. Three hours later, stuffed, happy, and down $1000, you are on your merry way out when--wait-what is that smell?? Is that a cinnamon bun?! How did they know I was craving something sweet after those “Swedish” meatballs?? And right in front of the checkout line! Good thing they put it here instead of upstairs in the cafeteria-otherwise I would’ve missed it!

-If you are not a homeowner there are two sections of Ikea you can avoid. The two K’s: Kids and Kitchens. Hallelujah. I’m assuming that if you are my age, and in an apartment, then you probably don’t have kids. I’m also assuming that you are not allowed to gut your outdated kitchen and replace it with an Ikea masterpiece. Don’t fret, your time will come. But for now, enjoy speeding through onto bedrooms.

-Do not, under any circumstances, buy a mattress from Ikea. Yes, it is cheap. Yes, it is practical. But let’s really think about this: When you turn over in the middle of the night and are abruptly woken up by the rebound of your body hitting the surface, are you going to care that you saved $200 on a mattress that gives you bruises? If you must, then be prepared to invest in several egg crates or foam pads. Seriously, I’m speaking from experience here.

-Beware of the marketplace. It is possible for you to deplete your budget here. You’ve just finished going through a warehouse sized furniture store, but you’re not done. Underneath the warehouse lies a second warehouse filled with household goodies and more. Suddenly, you’re no longer cranky or tired. Excitement starts to bubble up inside. You push away logical thoughts of “I don’t really need an exotic fern bush…” and “Will this oversized paper lamp fit in my living room??” and focus on more important things—filling your cart with unnecessary articles.

-Do not leave the store with a random, small, useless buy. You just spent hours in a Swedish maze, overwhelmed, lost, and constantly checking your budget on your phone. If you leave with a tiny, fake cactus, or a “cool” spork you can use on your nonexistent camping trips, your visit has amounted to nothing. At least buy something useful…like a you can throw away all unnecessary items when you come to your senses at home.

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