The problem with Ikea (the store)

Ikea doesn’t respect its customers’ time. I’ve never been so pissed off as a result of visiting a store.

It usually takes a lot to piss me off.

The Ikea store experience, for those who have never been, is akin to that of a hedge maze. You wander around this predetermined path (helpfully marked with arrows) that twists and turns wildly; around the path are myriad sample setups of rooms filled with Ikea furniture. (There is practically nothing in the store that is not made by Ikea; even the batteries they sell by the checkout are Ikea-brand.) The store (really, the path) is divided into a handful of themes—kitchen, bedroom, etc. Most items are tagged with aisle and bin numbers; you write these down, and then pick your purchases up in the self-serve warehouse located just before checkout.

There are also a ton of people around you. I was surprised to see families gathering around fake kitchens as if they were in their own home… and secretly suspected that they didn’t even gather like that at home.

I’m sure the layout is great for the Bed, Bath and Beyond crowd, who have fun just wandering and poking around the store. But I wanted to buy a coffee table. I wanted to look at a side-by-side comparison of all the coffee tables they had, find one that fit my needs, grab it and go.

Im-fucking-possible.

Moving from entrance to checkout involves following the entire preordained path; there are a handful of “shortcut” paths, but they’re poorly marked and utterly useless unless you already know the store’s layout. While you might find a cluster of coffee tables (say) somewhere, other coffee tables can only be found in one of of the demo setups. You can’t know that you’ve seen every possible coffee table until you’ve looked through the entire living room area. Other items that don’t fit cleanly into one of Ikea’s themes—like bookcases—are worse; you can’t know that you’ve seen all the bookcases until you’ve looked through the entire store.

If the Ikea store was a person, I’d punch him(/her) in the face. Hard. The furniture’s a decent value, but I’m not sure it’s worth the aggravation of the store.

 

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