Friday, 1 February 2013

I've been IKEA'ed

9:30 AM on a cold Monday morning, the IKEA line has already formed. I felt slightly ashamed waiting for the doors to open behind the walkers, the silver hairs and the canes. They’re, or rather, we’re, lined up for the $1.50 breakfast and to take advantage of the free coffee before the clock strikes ten. I get it- it’s Winnipeg and we’re known for being frugal. But I can’t help but think “they probably spent eight bucks in gas to save four bucks on breakfast… Don’t lie to yourself Josie that is probably going to be you one day.” That day is today. 

As we get to the top of the stairs, the smell of the plastic pre-packaged showrooms hits my nose and I can’t help but sneeze. I realize not one person is turning to walk down the IKEA yellow brick road but instead they all turn to the right to form another line around the cafeteria.

Two cups of FREE IKEA coffee, brewed in a filter that looks kind of like a Depends underwear garment, two slices of bacon, French toast, hashbrowns and eggs ($3.50, the bacon and French toast were an extra dollar each). I ready to venture down the IKEA highway of no return.

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t my first IKEA trip - it was my third. So I had already experienced what happens when you step off the IKEA pathway. The first time I went to IKEA, I was with my mother. We were buying a bedspread for my room. I forgot which throw I wanted for the end of my bed and couldn’t remember what it looked like. I had to run up the stairs from the IKEA storeroom, and find my way to the bedroom section. I thought I could take a shortcut but I somehow kept ending up in the Kitchen section.

Twenty five slightly sweaty minutes later, I made it out of the show room once again with a picture on my phone of the throw I wanted. Then I went back downstairs to find it and inevitably buy it.

It’s no secret why the floor plan of IKEA is similar to a rat maze. On the way to finding my throw, I spotted four more items I missed on my first trip around the showrooms. Compared to a store like Leon’s or Sears where there is no flow to which way people walk, what direction to go or what route to take. At IKEA there is a very specific route, planned route shoppers must take in order to see the whole store. There is no such thing as quick trip to IKEA. It’s a pretty smart marketing strategy.

Today was different from my last experience, I decided to stick to the path and try not to buy anything. I noticed most of the people shopping at IKEA are retired, middle aged couples. And women phoning their husbands describing what they’re buying over the phone. I’m sure the men on the other end of the line were thrilled to receive those calls -

“It’s a brownish-black book shelf about three, no, six feet high and five feet wide and I think it will look just perfect in our living room next to your chair. Unless you don’t think so? I don’t know. Do we need another book shelf? I just thought we could put plants on it or whatever. Oh wait. There’s a shorter one over here…”

The couples test out the couches, interact with the cupboards and open and close the closets multiple times. Some read the serial number out loud, while the other would write it down- “PAX HASVIK number 112333008899888444 and it needs an 11 volt E26 GLODA, two dots above the ‘O’ light bulb”.

I heard a lot of “that’s such a good idea”, “I want this for my house” and “I wish my kitchen looked like this.” A lot of the time I said these things myself. 

Employees are seldom seen at IKEA, especially when you’re looking for one to ask for directions. But I managed to talk to one. He said every day is busy at IKEA (I believe it). He also said it has slowed down since the grand opening in November, but the weekends are still hectic. On my second trip to IKEA, during boxing week, it took us 45 minutes to park the car. The drive into the parking lot felt similar to a trip to the  airport.

I move from showroom to showroom, my willpower weakening with each step. Oh, this frame is only five bucks! How can I pass that up? It’s only five bucks. Oh and I kinda need another spatula. It’s only three bucks. Toss er’ in. $100 and an hour and a half later, I left carrying a 4ft canvas with spoons printed on it.

Oh, and a hot dog and a Diet Coke for a buck fifty. They got me again with the cheap food on the way out.

Dones't my new IKEA picture look great above my couch?!

So if you ask me if IKEA is going to have a lasting market in Winnipeg – I say: as long as they keep their meat balls at two bucks a plate, and as long as there are senior citizens in this city; as long as they have reasonably priced household goods and as long as people have a budget to live within, then yes, IKEA will have probably always have market here. And everywhere else in the world. 

PS. There has been a frame sitting on the floor in my room for the last two months because it didn’t come with instructions. Instead it came with four screws, a metal coil and three hooks with no place to attach any of it to the back of the frame. IKEA instructions are a whole 'nother story.