Guest Post: 7 Reasons To Shop At Ikea
Another Saturday comes by and with it another chance for Marc and I to get up from the sofa and stretch our legs. I am stretching them quite far today. From Fulham to some place in Kent. I’m moving you understand. But that’s enough about me, let’s focus on the issue in hand. Today’s 7 Reasons piece comes from regular 7 Reasons contributor, Simon Best. Who, when he’s not writing for us – or shopping in Ikea – can be found writing on twitter. He also does some other things that no one quite understands.
1. Names. Everything they sell at Ikea from the largest kitchen unit to the smallest tealight has a name, the vast majority with a Scandinavian touch, some with more imagination than others: the ‘Dimma’ lamp, the ‘Pyra’ wok, the ‘Slitbar’ knife. I doubt that ‘Slitbar’ is actually the Swedish for knife but it is not beyond the realms of possibility. The names are also the answer to parents who don’t want to name their offspring Apple or Chardonnay – Knubbig, Gnistra and Ivar offer perfect alternatives – it’s only fair after Ikea stole the name ‘Billy’ for their best selling item – it is now more widely associated with a bookcase than a boy.
2. Showrooms. Much of the space in Ikea is taken up with showrooms displaying Ikea furniture in various combinations: kitchens, bedrooms, offices, living rooms. They’re often given a lived in look which reassures you that it is not just you that left your bed unmade and a pile of washing up in the sink. They also show you how the furniture you buy will never look in your house, after all if they lose bolt E or joint B then there is a shop full of them, then there is a shop full of them.
3. Pencils. Everywhere you look in Ikea there are little wooden pencils. They’re handy for writing down measurements or noting down the location of things you want to buy. They’re also perfect for sticking behind your ear which is essential for making you look as if you are competent at DIY. The reality is that most men walking round Ikea with a pencil behind their ear are there because their wives have sent them out of the house while a professional comes round to fix the damage that they did the previous weekend with their drill. The preponderance of pencils in Ikea is mirrored by one in my house. I don’t buy pencils any more, I just go to Ikea, stick one behind each ear and forget they are there until I get home.
4. Lack of piped music. One of the things I hate about going shopping is the musak that pervades high street stores and shopping malls. When I go to the supermarket I don’t want to listen to THIS [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oofSnsGkops] I want to listen to Test Match Special so that I can hear England slump from a respectable 70 for none (by the cheese counter) to a disastrous 104 for 5 (while I’m deciding whether to buy Braeburns or Granny Smiths). Ikea has no music, which is a relief because I don’t think the world could cope with a cover of Waterloo or Super-Trouper played on Guatemalan panpipes.
5. A masterclass in bad parenting. Most of the people shopping in Ikea are families. People go at the weekend and take their children. Now Ikea stores are big but they’re not a park or an adventure playground.Children spend most of their week in pre-fab buildings with bright furniture and at the weekend they should be outside playing football or building treehouses or riding their choppers (oh, sorry I forget it wasn’t 1985 anymore). When children are taken to ikea they get bored – which is understandable as the only interest they have in furniture is its capacity to be adapted to a pirate ship or be used to shut their younger sister in. As a result parents get angry and shout. Go to Ikea on a weekend and you will observe a masterclass in bad parenting.
6. Trolleys. When you enter Ikea you’ll see normal shopping trolleys by the door. My advice is to leave them where they are. When you get to the warehouse where all the furniture is stacked you’ll find much more exciting flat-bed trolleys. While you are looking for Aisle 4 Section 17 to pick up your table they make excellent scooters – that is until you collide with a large woman carrying four pot plants and a selection of candles. You might even find the bored children following your example. Something that their parents will doubtless thank you for.
7. Meatballs. Quite possibly the best thing about Ikea is the restaurant – and specifically the meatballs with lingonberries Where else can you find delicious international cuisine for astoundingly good value. People go to Ikea at dinner time just to have some meatballs with the furniture being a side attraction.* You can even take some meatballs home with you to microwave which is a good thing as there is no way you’re going to have that kitchen unit assembled and be able to cook dinner in the space of a day.
The box of Swedish biscuits always goes down well. And quickly. In my case, anyway.