12 Things I learned on my first trip to IKEA
- Do not go on a weekend. IKEA is a novelty, only found in a few locations (the one we went to is the only one in about a 150 mile radius). And as such it draws people from many places far and near and when you pull in the parking lot less than 25 min after they open and are having trouble finding a parking place you know that it is wall to wall people inside. And it’s a BIG building.
- Do not get a cart. There are helpful IKEA workers gladly trying to persuade you to get a cart and a giant yellow shopping bag. If you are shopping for furniture all you need is a little Putt Putt size pencil and a slip of paper that has a store map on one side and an order form on the flip side. However if you get a cart or a bag – suddenly you’re picking up all sorts of little things like $1.99 candles and $3.99 canvas wall art.
- Follow the arrows! You are instructed to follow the illuminated arrows on the floor. They point you in such a direction that you must walk through the entire store before checking out. It’s actually genius marketing on IKEA’s part – because humans tend to be herd animals and we all followed the lines and arrows like we were told. And even though I knew exactly what I was going there for I meandered around the million square foot building and looked at everything they had. If Wal-Mart got a hold of this technology……
- Everything is a component. Luckily I stifled my herd mentality long enough to pause and realize that I was about to spend a very reasonable $34.99 for a couple of cubicle storage units but to buy the handy-dandy baskets that went inside the cubicle storage (8 at $12.99 each) I was going to spend over $100 on the baskets which cancelled out the great deal of the storage unit.
- Do not eat at the restaurant. Again another novelty – having a home furnishing store so large that there is a stopping point along the arrowed pathway with a cafeteria style restaurant serving “Swedish” food. And while it was not expensive – reheated frozen “Swedish” meatballs with mashed potatoes for $4.99 – it was also not good. Well, the chocolate mousse cake was good but how can you go wrong with chocolate? Did I mention the horse meat? My animal activist co-worker did when I returned to work and complained about the meatballs. In Europe in 2013 the meatballs had been found to have horse meat in them. YUM… just what I wanted to know.
- Take a tape measure. While shopping for furniture in a store that is roughly the size of a professional football stadium it is hard to envision the furniture you are purchasing going inside your actual house which is much smaller than a football stadium. Yes I know IKEA dutifully provides the dimensions of each furniture piece it sells however viewing a loft bed on display in a warehouse makes you lose perspective. And then when you get home and put said loft bed together and it consumes more than half of the room you put it in you realize you should have brought along a tape measure.
- There is nothing in Swedish I can pronounce. I’m not sure how the vowels with the double dot’s over them are pronounced or if they are pronounced differently than the vowels that don’t have the dots over them. There’s also a lot of K’s – which is pretty cool. But it’s just easier to write down what you want and point it out to the employees rather than attempting to say SMÖRGÅSKAVIAR. (which is some type of fish paste, by the way).
- Keep in mind you do not need all new kitchen wares. Nobody does. But as you are following the path that leads you through EVERY SECTION of the store and you see an 18-piece set of dinnerware for $34.99 you’re tempted to replace the set you already have because it’s a bargain. And then there’s about a million kitchen utensils that you never knew you needed. And bath mats and towels and laundry hampers and blankets… the stuff is endless. YOU DO NOT NEED THESE THINGS YOU ONLY CAME HERE FOR A LOFT BED.
- This is quite possibly the worst idea I’ve ever had. I realized this as I was nearing the end of the maze of home furnishings and had successfully talked myself, my husband and my daughter out of purchasing the 1000 things we saw that we didn’t need. I felt like I was crossing the finish line to a marathon when we got to the storage area to actually go and get the boxes of furniture we originally came for. And in the process only managed to pick up about $40 worth of other “stuff.”
- Don’t let your husband write on the order form. In order to get the self-serve furniture you see on the showroom floor, you write down the aisle number, bin number and product description and price. Then you get to the storage area and you are faced with locating the right aisle and bin. The aisle was legible but the bin was not. It was either 41 or 21 or Z1… who knew? IKEA has obviously had this happen before and you can look up your item on a handy dandily placed computer at the front of the storage area.
- Go on a sunny day. While it may be sunny where you live, you need to check the weather forecast in the IKEA store’s location. The only location for hundreds of miles that had thunderstorms the day we went to IKEA was in Cincinnati. And while we had planned ahead and brought straps to strap the furniture to the luggage rack it was pouring buckets which meant an unscheduled stop at Home Depot for some tarps and bungee cords. In case you’ve never strapped something to the roof of your car and tried to secure a tarp around it let me stop you. It is impossible to “secure” a tarp that is going to face highway speeds of 75 mph. Just understand that you will have to stop about every 20-25 miles to re-secure the tarp and no matter what you do you will have to listen to the annoying “whirring” and “clanking” sounds that the tarp makes.
- Kids at any age like the box better. Remember when you had toddlers and you would buy them an expensive new toy and be disappointed that all they wanted to do was climb in the box it came in? At age (nearly) 12 our daughter found the best part of IKEA to be the $4.99 stuffed wiener dog that we bought her who she named “Chester.” We spent hundreds of dollars on a new loft bed that she had to have, along with a futon to go under the loft, not to mention travelling 108 miles to get to the store and 108 God forsaken miles back in a torrential downpour having to stop at least 5 times to fix the boxes and tarps – and my daughter thought that the best part of her trip was “Chester.” Well…. Chester and the Chocolate Mousse cake – I mean she is my daughter.
Also… I did not buy the fish paste mentioned above but it was the best example I could find on the IKEA website that had all the weird vowels and lots of K’s.