On Valentines Day this year the population of Perth sent up a collective cheer when the new IKEA (the old store was barely large enough to swing an oven mitt and matching tea towel) opened its doors to the Allen Key loving masses. It did seem rather an odd date to open, given that this shop is surely responsible for more arguments between couples than any other. God knows how many couples actually fell out over their meatballs that day and whose relationship never even made it past the lighting section. If Cupid had even been stupid enough to try and make it through the doors, he would never have stood a chance and was no doubt trampled underfoot in the stampede.
I always wonder what percentage of the homes on this planet have something in them from IKEA. Of course who’s to say there isn’t an intergalactic franchise out there somewhere, it’s not beyond the unimaginable.
I know that there isn’t a room in our house that hasn’t got something from IKEA in it. Take my office for instance. I am sitting in my IKEA cream swivel chair, at my glass ‘scripted’ IKEA desk, underneath 2 IKEA glass shelves and between 2 IKEA white book cases. That’s before I even turn around to face the set of IKEA glass topped drawers behind me, which sit underneath 3 IKEA orchid canvas prints. I hasten to add that the other rooms in the house aren’t quite so Swedish in their design and I have never had anyone come to visit and have them ask for a yellow bag and a tape measure at the door.
It’s actually quite incredible if you think that the shop, founded back in 1943 by Inggar Kamprad, a 17 year old Swedish boy who started off by selling pens, watches, jewellery and nylon stockings, has since gone on to become the world’s largest furniture store, with 120,000 employees based in more than 29 countries, selling just under 11,000 products.
Incidentally the name IKEA is an abbreviation for “Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd” which is the initial letters of his first and last name, the farm where he grew up and the town he lived in.
Despite claiming that the reason you can never find a member of staff is so that the prices can be kept low, IKEA must surely be making more money per second than their customers can pocket the free pencils. But that said, it is unofficially the world’s largest charitable organization, so can be forgiven for mercilessly emptying out our bank accounts time after time.
I have to say I do love IKEA. There’s no where else quite like it. There’s certainly no other shop that has the power to convince me that I simply have to have something, that half an hour before I never even knew existed. Every time I go there I spot another weird and wonderful gadget designed to save me time and space. I discover a new and improved way to arrange my clothes, display my books and stack my spices and I always find a new range of crockery that’s just crying out to be bought.
It’s the sort of shop where you go with the intention of buying some bag clips and a couple of candles and then somehow find yourself coming through the checkout (or should I say slinking through, while silently praying that your credit card can take the battering) with a Billy Book book case, an assortment of glasses that you have no place to store, a single mattress, a new bathroom sink, 8 large wicker baskets that will now need filling and a ceiling light. One that comes in a box the size of a pack of cards and requires an advanced diploma in origami to put together.
The fact that all of these flat packed and bulky items are highly unlikely to even make it into your car is neither here no there, unless of course your small 4 door hatchback has somehow magically metamorphasised into a horsebox whilst you have been shopping. Then again, I have seen someone squeeze a single mattress into a Mini Cooper before and we once fitted an entire kitchen into our 7 seater, so the impossible it seems, can sometimes be done.
For all these reasons above I have to say that I also hate IKEA. OK, so maybe not hate. I could never hate it, I just wish that I had more resistance to the hypnotic hold that it seems to have over me once I walk underneath the blue and yellow flags.
On so many visits I have walked the entire way through the store (few people dare stray off the arrows and cut through the displays), written endless lists on multiple bits of paper and spent hours agonising over what will go where. Then I reach the warehouse and find that, surprise surprise, 10/15 items on the list are currently ‘Out of Stock’. Worse still there is no known delivery date and I am not allowed to reserve whatever it is I need when it arrives.
A classic example is when I brought the desk that I am at now. There was only 1 of the leg supports (I needed 2) left in the store. I ask you, why 1? Do they sell many tables without legs, or legs without tables? Why did someone else only buy 1 leg? It took 2 more trips to the store before the elusive leg finally appeared and my desk, which was wedged up on a bedside table, stopped wobbling.
Still can’t complain, where else allows you to kit out a whole house in around 4 hours.
That’s allowing 30 minutes to pick out the items you want from the catalogue, an hour to find them as you slowly walk behind other people ‘display shopping’ at a snails pace, another 30 minutes struggling to get the flat pack boxes off the top shelf in the ‘help yourself’ warehouse and then the final 2 hours, stuck in a queue waiting for your ‘too big to carry’ items to be wheeled out from within the belly of the IKEA beast.
Of course this estimated time doesn’t allow for the additional 3 hours that you will later spend driving back to the shop, to buy the bag clips and candles that you forgot to buy the last time. Then queue up for that all important screw that happened to be missing from the original bookcase. The one that is now in several unusual looking pieces and is scattered across your living room floor.
Arhhh, what a store. You’ve got to love the way they just make you keep coming back for more.