Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The joy of Swedish home furniture shopping

Note: This column appears in the 8/18 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/19 issue of the Peoria Times

Ever been to IKEA? It is a Swedish furniture store. Its appeal, I think, used to be affordability, but that has waned—the Swedish economy is worse than ours, I have heard, and IKEA is their only source of income—and now their greatest appeal is lack of furniture salesmen, which is important, because furniture salesmen make car salesmen seem standoffish. (If you are a furniture salesman reading this, I’m just kidding! If you’re not, I am not kidding. They are the worst.)

Besides being not-that-inexpensive and maintaining the sturdy quality of cardboard, another great aspect of IKEA furniture is that it is all in boxes and you have to put it together yourself, later. This is great for a person like me, who is not very good at putting things together. We currently have a large IKEA bookshelf in our home that we cannot anchor to the wall because I put one of the pieces with the anchor holes on backwards and refused to start over. If it falls over, it will be a good excuse to get a new bookshelf. If it falls on me, my wife will bask in the irony.

That piece, actually, was purchased years ago on a trip to IKEA in beautiful Elizabeth, New Jersey. That trip remains the greatest test our marriage has ever witnessed, and it culminated when we hit a pothole on the New Jersey Turnpike on the way home and the glass shattered on several pieces we had just purchased. The sound of that glass breaking and the look on my wife’s face will remain etched in my memory forever. (This also doesn't account for the stuff I broke personally, later, while trying to put stuff together.)

So we had fond feelings about IKEA when we decided to make a trip back there, this time with a small child who has a six-minute window of adequate behavior in the grocery store. IKEA, I’m pretty sure, has four locations worldwide, and one of them happens to be in Tempe, although it’s really Mesa, and the drive felt like it is was in Tucson. Part of the 10 was closed, as was part of the 101, and the 17 was whittled down to a half-lane, so it took 26-hours round-trip. Luckily, it was 130-degrees.

IKEA, as anyone who has been there knows, is a process. The minimum requirements are a pencil and a dream, and also adept navigation skills, not only for the overwhelming—apparently people are going to college soon? Who knew?—and inconsiderate foot traffic, but to properly follow the arrows on the floor. You MUST follow the arrows. If you spot something, you need to make a decision then and there or risk a return trip around the compound. In fact, seeing something you like in IKEA is burdensome, knowing what it will take to actually get that thing into your home the way it looks right now. I guess that’s why we didn’t buy much. Plus the prices. We saw a couch we liked, but it was $1,400 and made of clouds.

The child was relatively well-behaved for a two-year old in a Swedish furniture store, and for her troubles, one of the few things we did purchase was a blow-up ladybug pillow, which was, relative to her future as a functioning member of society, essential. When we got home, we realized we did not, apparently, purchase the accompanying and required filler for the giant bug. IKEA, in a cruel twist of horribleness, has a website but does not let you order from that website. Some say, "Why even have a website?" IKEA says, "Whatev!"

So … we must return to IKEA. For ladybug pillow filler.

No rush though. We’ll get there. When she’s ready for college.


I don't know what this picture means, but I like it!

2 comments:

SpastikMooss said...

I LOVE IKEA! I never understood the hubbub and I read a Cracked magazine article on how terrible it was once. But then my girlfriend brought me and after some initial bank account qualms I gave in to the meatball and lingonberry sauce deliciousness. I count our entertainment center, the desk I work at, both our major lamps, a small shelf in our living room, and our bed all as IKEA goods. Otherwise we have like...one chair?

mkenny59 said...

Spastik, I hear you. Many items in our house are from there. The whole process is just ... stupid. However, were I not vegetarian, I would totally get the meatball and lingonberry sauce platter at the IKEA cafeteria, which I imagine is $15.99, and you have to make it yourself.