Less than two weeks ago I made my first trip to IKEA. I realize that this puts me far into the minority and now that I have been there truly EVERYONE has been to an IKEA – or so it seems. My wife and I went to IKEA as the one snowstorm this year was waning, as she we figured it might not be as crowded as it usually was (she had been to an IKEA before). She was right and we parked near the entrance.
Prior to making the 40 minute car trip my wife went online and sketched out a couple of ideas she had for a wall unit and printed them out. We were going to try to make our own wall unit and from what I could tell it would be relatively inexpensive. That’s the first reason people go to IKEA right? I mean that the merchandise is for the most part contemporary, modular, fairly well made (to me more sort of an upscale particle board) and there are choices in colors and finishes.
We were able to find someone to help us narrow our choices based upon what we sketched out. Apparently finding someone to help in IKEA is no small accomplishment. He was a very nice septuagenarian (or at least it seemed like that), somewhat computer literate and very earnestly tried to help us. It took quite a while. The computer system was cumbersome and not all that user-friendly (my wife noticed that as well when she was attempting to design something). Once we finally found something we thought we might like it turned out that IKEA had discontinued the line so had we bought the material in stock (which it wasn’t) we would have not been able to replace anything going forward.
We had been in the store for 90 minutes (seemed longer to a guy like me who is a buyer and not a shopper) and like many people came up empty. In fact had we decided on a purchase, the ‘IKEA way’ is for us to go downstairs, pull the material we wanted off the warehouse shelves (like doors and cabinets) and roll it up to a register to pay. After that we would have had to arrange for delivery since we were not going to be able to fit it all in our car. I was assured by my wife that process (had we undertaken it) would have taken another hour. Whatever happened to time is money?
But then it got aggravating – that is, trying to get out of the store. Like Connecticut based Stew Leonard’s, IKEA has you trudge around and around the store through aisles and aisles of products (none of which were of interest), just to get to the exit. No exaggeration – at least ten minutes of going around thinking (hoping?) we were close to getting out only to see yet another turn down another aisle. I kept thinking I sure hope the fire sprinklers work well since if there ever was a fire there was no way you were getting out in time.
I had much higher hopes as the IKEA brand perception I had going in was much different than what I had going out. People seem to love IKEA.
But again I ask – what is it about IKEA?