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“IKEA and Us”

It was our home away from home, our shoulder to lean on. It filled the void in our depraved apartment-furnishing existence. It was nothing other than your friendly neighborhood home goods store. In reality, it was the assemble-it-yourself Swedish furniture store that we could not escape. It haunted my dreams.

Have you ever had the feeling you know a particular store better than a close friend? I certainly did. IKEA is the store that I had come to know all too well. Regrettably, I’d been there countless times in my stint as an American expatriate. It all came with the territory, though. If it weren’t for those dreadfully empty German apartments, IKEA would’ve been a mere fart in the wind. We would’ve gone there for the occasional knickknack or bookshelf, but we wouldn’t have been IKEA extremists. Nevertheless, it pains me to admit that it happened. We became those people. Sadly, we were the couple who could be seen there almost every other week, carrying heavy IKEA boxes and bags on our commute from train to bus to train and back to our apartment.

I remember when IKEA first opened back home. The excitement plagued consumers across all areas. As a matter of fact, I recall a close friend of mine becoming so excited that I secretly questioned his sexuality. The two of us traveled there together during the week of the grand opening and wandered through the store like amazed young children. Fast forward to German time and a permanent scowl on my face was the only predictability, as my wife and I made, what seemed like, a weekly trip to the store. The awkward, heavy items were standard protocol, too.

Comments such as “are you serious?! … you’re grabbing the wrong end … slow down or I’m gonna drop it … I need to let my end down, let’s take a break … this is ridiculous … I’m never coming back here again … this stuff is way too heavy … let’s just rent a car for the day and get everything done … why don’t we just go back next week instead?” were pretty trite. Getting a hot dog and drink at the end of our shopping excursion was nothing new either. The lady seemed to think it would’ve softened the blow. Ask a German about their IKEA experience and they’ll give you the old “you must get a hot dog when you’re done shopping.” Orgasmic gourmet food it is not but rather a hot dog on par with the standard frozen dogs found in supermarkets. As if lugging a pile of cheaply made, fashionable furniture and related items through the city of Frankfurt is going to be any less cumbersome simply because you stuffed a yummy wiener—with toppings—down your throat.

One particular week, I had a great idea. I would plan a weekend evening out at the local English theater for us to see a classic Tennessee Williams production. Apparently I was mistaken, however, because it failed to derail our chances of making a trip to IKEA. Instead, we conveniently turned a weekday evening into another stale shopping experience at that dreaded four-letter-word store, only the routine was a bit different this time.

With an hour until closing and a new Christmas section near the checkout aisle, we had just enough time to do some casual browsing. “Let’s get a hot dog and drink first this time. We can skip the first floor since we only need a spice rack, a new clock, and a cabinet handle. If we give ourselves a half hour on the first two floors, we’ll still have time to look through the Christmas section. Then maybe we can take a look at the food section so we can get a few snacks," Kathleen said, her eyes widening.

"Sounds good," I said, overjoyed by the notion that my facial muscles moved almost a fraction of an inch to illicit the always-polite half-smile. But I suppose I had no choice than to be grateful since no heavy items were scheduled to be purchased. A quick mental flashback of the crack-in-the-shoe rack experience reminded me that things never do go smoothly. It was one of our less flattering moments that involved large bags, heavy wooden shelves, and a cheap plastic shoe rack that slammed to the ground as we stood there yelling at one another, each laying blame for not having reached out to save it from its unfortunate tumble.

When we departed IKEA that Tuesday night, I felt like I could walk on water. Something different had happened. I was carrying one bag that contained only a few items. I felt free, as if I could fly. But was it too good to be true? Indeed, it would be a first for arriving home from IKEA without pressure marks on my hands from carrying heavy, unassembled boxes of furniture. I was in a euphoric state of complete and utter satisfaction. But then reality struck.

Instead, I would have to deal with the emotional scarring of a near accident, with my wife stepping out into the street as a speeding vehicle swerved out of the way, coming within inches of striking her. And yet, later on that evening, she seemed more disturbed by the fact that we didn’t buy any IKEA scented candles.

Comments

I recall hearing about this Ikea business, then further rumors, as my daughter's best friend managed to be living near the apparently famous Burbank version.

My daughter came back one weekend, having dropped into this Ikea place. She brought back a series of mirrors, to install on the wall, with special plastic bolts, and the mirrors comes in three sections and look drunk. I measured exactly and very carefully, and yes in fact the three mirrors looked both exotic, and drunk plus a bit Carnival, post installation.

Later, we visited this very store, I followed the footprints, required to escape being trapped. It was a Friday nite, the store was vast and I was deprived of these very cool Kitchen Cabinets. Nobody else in this store plans to be deprived. They are buying just about EVERYTHING. And the shopping carts are huge.

Some assembly is required.

The object in your mirror may be closer than it appears.....

Later, more years later, I had to endure my Ikea dependent coworker. She owned a home, and therefore, while stuck in a car for six hours commuting to some mandatory work meeting nobody wants to attend, all I hear about is Ikea.

There is some stinking light bulb, she most obtain it, and she must stop at this SPECIAL Ikea we will be driving past NOT in Burbank. Oh this one is even more famous. All we heard about was this light bulb, and something about meat balls that we must consume for lunch.

But we're working. And technically speaking, yes we get lunch but No we don't go shopping at Ikea. A coworker war ensued. Coworker even asked new boss if she could stop and shop at Ikea. EGAD. You just don't ask the new boss that....

May I just say we found ourselves in this even bigger Ikea, and she could not find the light bulb and they did not have the special meat balls. And I think we did end up with hot dogs.

And that was after her critiquing every special garage door, installed on Highway 1, Malibu coast.

How do you wall off your $$$? With special garage doors. Along Highway 1, Malibu reach, well they forgot its a beach, the ocean and the highway. Somehow they squeezed in houses and garage doors as an afterthought.

Ikea is still in business?
 
I recall hearing about this Ikea business, then further rumors, as my daughter's best friend managed to be living near the apparently famous Burbank version.

My daughter came back one weekend, having dropped into this Ikea place. She brought back a series of mirrors, to install on the wall, with special plastic bolts, and the mirrors comes in three sections and look drunk. I measured exactly and very carefully, and yes in fact the three mirrors looked both exotic, and drunk plus a bit Carnival, post installation.

Later, we visited this very store, I followed the footprints, required to escape being trapped. It was a Friday nite, the store was vast and I was deprived of these very cool Kitchen Cabinets. Nobody else in this store plans to be deprived. They are buying just about EVERYTHING. And the shopping carts are huge.

Some assembly is required.

The object in your mirror may be closer than it appears.....

Later, more years later, I had to endure my Ikea dependent coworker. She owned a home, and therefore, while stuck in a car for six hours commuting to some mandatory work meeting nobody wants to attend, all I hear about is Ikea.

There is some stinking light bulb, she most obtain it, and she must stop at this SPECIAL Ikea we will be driving past NOT in Burbank. Oh this one is even more famous. All we heard about was this light bulb, and something about meat balls that we must consume for lunch.

But we're working. And technically speaking, yes we get lunch but No we don't go shopping at Ikea. A coworker war ensued. Coworker even asked new boss if she could stop and shop at Ikea. EGAD. You just don't ask the new boss that....

May I just say we found ourselves in this even bigger Ikea, and she could not find the light bulb and they did not have the special meat balls. And I think we did end up with hot dogs.

And that was after her critiquing every special garage door, installed on Highway 1, Malibu coast.

How do you wall off your $$$? With special garage doors. Along Highway 1, Malibu reach, well they forgot its a beach, the ocean and the highway. Somehow they squeezed in houses and garage doors as an afterthought.

Ikea is still in business?
You could write a whole blog about this IKEA lightbulb! Yes, they are still in business and thriving.
 
You could write a whole blog about this IKEA lightbulb

Yes probably.

I could write quite a bit about the irritating co worker, Ikea dependent. Somehow we are expected to generally get along with others.

But we are humans. Why think that?

I seem to now recall the last time I ever saw her was when I'd nearly gotten myself killed at 7:05 am trying to make a u- turn against oncoming traffic going sixty MPH while I"m still drugged from everything I had to take to enable me to actually sleep, then actually show up to meet her.

All that, in order to go to the Mandatory Meeting. This near death experience was also tied to the worsening ME, and that became the last time I agreed to ever show up.
 
hah! SO many IKEA truths here! I went to the Chicago one a few times before i had children and it was so magical. I loved the simplicity and functionality of the items as well (dishes, rugs, etc.). That store would absolutely wear you out though, mentally and physically.
 
Hello.....I've yet to enter an Ikea Store and they most certainly weren't in N. America when we started out and didn't have any money (as in zero $) so many years ago.

I suppose that if the store existed, we would have been avid purchasers also so, for that reason alone, I'm glad it didn't. Why? Well furniture was very expensive (at least to us) and the quality was great.

Each and every piece meant something and stores had credit. Credit cards weren't in wide use (and we probably wouldn't have qualified anyway...which is why I had no engagement ring for probably 25 yrs. or so). You saved for every single thing...and it meant the world to you. I'm looking at a chair from those days...reupholstered, but only once. Did you know that memories are contained in furniture?..little did we know.

Our daughters were the recipients of some of that furniture, although we still have the lamp we couldn't afford. No family furniture came our way, well a deep fryer, but once Rod repaired it, my mother wanted it back again. However, we had a lot of pillowcases with crochet trim from our wedding...still have them, as a matter of fact.

Everything in our home has a story behind it....like winning the lottery for each piece that was purchased. Now we have so much stuff that even though we've cleared it out, there's still too much. Somewhere along the way we became consumers....but first came saving money b/c you never knew when you'd need it.

No one wants these things. Furniture is cheap now in comparison, but it doesn't interest me. My grandchildren don't want anything b/c they'll probably buy it from Ikea. I do like their dinnerware, but then I have a "thing" about that generally. No, we shopped at places like the Salvation Army for baby furniture, and bought on lay-away (have you ever heard of that?). Heck, Christmas Clubs were still in existence then....and I'm glad for young people that times have changed and Ikea was/is a "thing."

Styles change yet our grandchildren don't want us to change a thing about our house. A changed light fixture is even noticed by them...and yet my ideas wouldn't be welcome in their world of decorating. Now everything has to match....I mean really match.

Do you hold onto your Ikea purchases? Good for this company. It certainly found a niche and filled it. Good for those just starting also. Yours, Lenora.
 

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