Friday, September 28, 2007

IKEA in Sweden - A Lesson Learned

So I went to IKEA the other day with my buddy who is visiting with his girlfriend. IKEA is amazing. A Swedish marvel if you will. Just the epitome of the design Sweden is famous for. Everything is pretty good looking and nearly everything can be taken home with you in a flat pack box. Just a lovely place. They even sell food. There’s a café or restaurant on every floor, and seeing as how we went to the largest IKEA in Stockholm, there was a lot of food available. We decided just to grab a quick coffee and delicious baked good halfway through the experience that is IKEA.

That’s the thing, IKEA makes your shopping trip into an experience. They have paths with arrows telling you how to get through the store. Of course, that path takes you through the entire store never offering any sort of way to avoid anything. But that’s the point. When new stores open, hundreds and hundreds of people line up outside just clamoring to be the first to get their hands on some flat packed items. Some IKEA’s even offer the chance to sleep over in the store. As I said, they offer food everywhere, and if you don’t stop at one of their restaurants in the store they grab you with their 5 SEK hotdogs at the end. That’s hard to resist.

It’s also hard to resist buying something there. I went with my friends and had no intention of buying anything. But stuff is so cheap. Or inexpensive is probably how IKEA would describe it. Sounds better than cheap. See I learned something in those marketing classes I took. Anyway, I walked out of IKEA with a bag full of stuff. Stuff I didn’t realize I needed until I saw it at IKEA. They are sneaky like that. They are making quite a bit of headway in the US so be warned America, IKEA is coming and you will buy way too much stuff.

Earlier this summer though I made a grave mistake. A mistake that I wish upon no one. A mistake that I will never make again. A Welcome to Sweden mistake. This was one of those mistakes you really learn from. I went to IKEA on a Saturday. Never, never, never, never do this. Ever. Just a horrible idea on my part. But, I had some time on my hands and thought it would be a good idea. I was wrong. I have never seen so many people in a store before. It was a madhouse. Kids were running everywhere, this despite IKEA offering Småland, a play-place where parents can drop off their kids. There were just too many of them. Everywhere. Parents were yelling at their kids, for their kid, to their kids. Searching for them, trying to keep them under control all while steering their battering rams. I think some people call them strollers. It was incredible. In that stressful, kind of scary, I never want to do this again way.

It was difficult to move when I got close to the end. That is where IKEA puts all of the small stuff that is pretty cheap and that people can’t resist. People are loitering everywhere debating on whether they really need more candles or another set of IKEA glasses. It was literally elbow to elbow traffic. In a store. This wasn’t a glorious Bruce Springsteen concert, it wasn’t the Super Bowl it was just IKEA. Learn from my mistakes. Take the time to experience IKEA. Just never on a Saturday.


  1. I once read one of the those 'travel around Europe on a shoestring' type books which actully said if you are in Sweden and need a cheap meal,go to IKEA and pig out on hotdogs.

    My worst IKEA memory was actully visiting IKEA in Croydon, England on a Saturday. Think about this, the one IKEA store serving the whole of South London...on a Saturday. IT was hell, we even had to queue to get out the damn carpark.

    When IKEA opened up another store in London, there were actually people injured on the opening day as so many people tried to get in....

  2. I think you win. At least Stockholm has two to choose from. IKEA is amazing though, when it comes down to it most of the stuff is just particleboard made to look nice. What people will do for a deal is mind boggling.

  3. Hmz and i always thought that the Swedish Ikea was actually Dutch (:.

  4. it's tricky. it was started by a Swede. Founded in Sweden, and has its base and roots in Sweden. But it is a privately owned company. And that private owner is a Dutch company that is run by Ingvar Kamprad's family. Take that for what it is worth.

  5. Oh, I know this is an old post, but too funny! After a Saturday trip to IKEA I once told a friend that if I ever started talking about having children not to try to be rational with me or talk me out of it...simpley take me to IKEA on a weekend. I still don't have children. I think IKEA would boost it's profits through the roof if they put in a condom aisle.

  6. IKEA really is a special kind of birth control.