In February, my college roommates and I had planned a weekend together in Cincinnati. We had lunch at Christi's house, then decided it was time for a little shopping. We browsed a few home stores before going to IKEA. I had heard about IKEA, browsed the IKEA website, but I had never shopped at IKEA. To make a long story short, I didn't get much beyond the door before I began wondering if there was an IKEA in Florida. After browsing through the showroom, then the marketplace, then the stock room I headed to the information desk to ask about Florida locations. The nice lady adorned in a royal blue and gold uniform replied, "We will be opening a new store in Tampa in April." WOO HOO, were the basis of the 1,000,000 thoughts I had regarding the possibilities of decorating a new home with "cool" IKEA products. Did I mention they are inexpensive?
I visited IKEA for the second time, in Minneapolis, with Sam in tow. To be honest, I was skeptical about how our IKEA experience would turn out. I should have known that my wonderful, fun, hands-on, "do it yourself" husband would enjoy our IKEA experience. He did. And believe it or not I was rushing him along.
IKEA is fun for everyone, if you don't mind the crowds (if you do go when they open or a couple hours before closing). Your kids will have fun. Why? You can drop them off at the play area and have a free babysitter for a few hours (I'm not 100% sure it's free, but they do have a staffed play area that is awesome). You can eat lunch and/or dinner in the IKEA cafeteria and it's pretty good. Women can browse, admire, and purchase colorful textiles, mirrors, storage supplies, pictures, light fixtures/lamps, dishes, towels, vases, rugs, candles, etc. Men can research and purchase any piece of furniture imaginable and self assemble it at home. You can go to IKEA and remodel your entire house if you desire. Okay, so I don't think you can buy toilets or showers, but everything else on the list can be found inside the huge blue and yellow building.
Since IKEA Tampa opened in April, I have been three times. I went with my mother-in-law to purchase a book shelf. Sam and I went to browse the light fixtures, mirrors, and wardrobe options for our new house. Yesterday, I went alone to further browse the whole store as we prepare to decorate our new house. Each time I go, I am amazed by their innovation. I am amazed by their ability to take you on a journey making you believe your house can look amazing. I am amazed that you can go there and spend an entire day. I am amazed at how well they have marketed the IKEA brand worldwide. I am amazed that whether I leave IKEA with a great buy or empty handed I am thinking about my next visit!!!
All in all, IKEA is a store that is overwhelming initially, but incredibly useful, organized, and inexpensive. I guess that is why it is always crowded!!!!!
Here are a few IKEA facts from their website www.IKEA.com:
"The IKEA Concept is based on offering a wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them. Rather than selling expensive home furnishings that only a few can buy, the IKEA Concept makes it possible to serve the many by providing low-priced products that contribute to helping more people live a better life at home."
"The IKEA Concept began when Ingvar Kamprad, an entrepreneur from the Småland province in southern Sweden, had an innovative idea. In Småland, although the soil is thin and poor, the people have a reputation for working hard, living frugally and making the most out of limited resources. So when Ingvar started his furniture business in the late 1940s, he applied the lessons he learned in Småland to the home furnishings market.
Ingvar's innovative idea was to offer home furnishing products of good function and design at prices much lower than competitors by using simple cost-cutting solutions that did not affect the quality of products. Ingvar used every opportunity to reduce costs, and he scraped and saved in every way possible - except on ideas and quality. This is how the IKEA Concept began. The name IKEA comes from the initials of Ingvar Kamprad, I and K, plus the first letters of Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, which are the names of the farm and village where he grew up."
"Today, the IKEA trademark represents the leading home furnishings brand in the world with more than 235 stores in more than 30 countries and more than 110,000 co-workers."