Thursday, November 15, 2012

IKEA 2: Return to Sanity

A long time ago, I wrote about my nightmarish inaugural trip to IKEA. It was a dark time for me, and it almost turned me off from the Swedish retailer forever. But more than a year has passed, and things've changed. I've changed. Maybe IKEA's changed a little too. And I feel I must return to this topic so that we can all have a little closure.

As I may have mentioned,* I spent a good part of the past year in Europe: Home of IKEA. Living in a residence hall, it wasn't long before some of my fellow residents proposed a trip to our local home store for some inexpensive dorm accoutrements. I was, in a word, hesitant. My last visit to IKEA was not something that I cared to repeat, but in the spirit of fostering new friendships and overcoming obstacles, I agreed to go. It also helped that I was accompanied by a group of people who both knew and liked IKEA, as opposed to my parents, who were as clueless and uncomfortable as I.

Two things made my experience that day not only bearable to downright enjoyable.

Number one:
Crowds. Or lack thereof. The Tampa IKEA was swarming with people. I believe I referred to them as "the mindless hoard." Whether because this IKEA was more local, less new, or just less novel to the Scottish, it was not terribly crowded, so I was able to take my time and not feel quite as overwhelmed by the simple experience of walking around a store.

Number two:
MEATBALLS. There may have been other things that made that day good, but--- nope, meatballs. All the meatballs. I had heard IKEA had good meatballs, but ohmygod meatballs.** I don't know what makes these things so good. Yes I do. Gravy. Also lingonberry jam, which is just so so Swedish, but absolutely essential. My whole trip to that store was given purpose when I tasted those delicious balls of meat. I'm not kidding you when I say that I have since returned to IKEA just for the meatballs. Sometimes I get other stuff too, but usually not. I would brave all manners of hell just to have those waiting for me after checkout. My big mistake that first time was bypassing the food stand that sold them.

With lingonberry drink!
Oh, also, IKEA has one of the most comfortable chairs I've ever owned. By now a staple of dorm rooms everywhere, the POÄNG chair is so much greater than you would ever think it could be.

Ultimate comfort
Add the footrest, and this is my definition of luxury. The day I get a new one of these (I had to leave mine in Scotland) is the day I feel whole again.

So there you have it, dear readers. I have made a 180 with regards to the IKEA store. It really does have its merits.

Like all these straws! 
Or these many lamps! 
This weird fork? 
This part still makes me kind of nervous.

But for those of you who have still never gone or, like me, had a terrible first experience and haven't gone back, here are a few tips:
  1. Go with someone who knows what they're doing.
  2. Go in with a game plan. Check the website before you go so you know what you want. Browsing is possible in IKEA, but it's totally overwhelming if you're not acclimated to it. 
  3. Eat some goddamned meatballs. If you don't love those things, you can GTFO. I kid, I kid. You don't have to love the meatballs just because I do. But at least try them. 
They might change your life. 

*Once or twice
**Have I typed the word "meatballs" enough yet?

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