Kelly: What do you want to do this weekend?
Jess: Umm, well - do you think we could go to Ikea?
Kelly: (short pause) Ikea? Sure, but that place makes me crazy!
We did go, and despite her initial reservations - we had a BLAST. I brought my camera but the battery was dead (oops!) - so excuse lack of photos of us being goofballs. Part of the reason this trip was different is that you have to understand going in that shopping at Ikea is not like shopping in other places.
So here are my tips for making your experience to Ikea enjoyable and productive.
Decide on the kind of trip you want to take
Are you on a mission to get a specific piece (i.e. I want this LACK TV Stand) or are you in need of a TV Stand and aren't quite sure what you want?
If you are in a browsing type mood - plan a day for your trip. Seriously - you don't want to end up in the bowels of Ikea and have to try to run out to make 2:30 movie date/soccer game/whatever. Also I would recommend the following tips:
- Make sure you wear comfy shoes.
- If you have an idea of the kind of things you are in the mood to shop for make sure you bring the facts. Take measurements of your space at home, snap pics on your cell, and make a list of items you are interested in from the Ikea Website.
- When you arrive at the store and proceed directly to the cafe and get some food if you haven't eaten. You will need your strength! Personally - I recommend the Swedish Meatballs which are both yummy and high in protein. Or they have a .99 cent breakfast with eggs, bacon, and potatoes.
Tips for the Showroom
Now that you have some food in your belly, you can head to the Showroom. The Ikea showroom is set up in different sections with full rooms and even apartments that have been designed to showcase all the potential ideas for how and where you can use Ikea products.
Here are my tips for navigating the Showroom floor.
- As you enter the showroom, grab a map of the store, a pencil and a yellow shopping bag. You shouldn't need a cart in the showroom since most of the items that are displayed for sale are small enough to fit in the bags. Remember that you can also pick them up in the Marketplace too.
- As you see things you like - separate them into to two categories to prevent yourself from overspending.
- I need this right now and it is something I came in to purchase or
- This is a great idea and I should remember it, check out my house, see if it will work and get it next time.
- Note - If you decide you like a product that has an installation guide (blinds, kitchens, office spaces) pick it up and take it home for further review.
- The back of your map has a place for you to write down things you see that you want to find in the Marketplace. After a small mishap this weekend where we forgot to do that - I would recommend not only writing down the name of the item and what it is and where you can find it, but also take a camera phone picture of it so you can also see it when you are looking at a slew of options in the Marketplace.
- Also - check the tag.
- If it has a RED tag - also write down the aisle number and bin number. You will need that when you go to pick it up from the self serve furniture warehouse.
- If it has a YELLOW tag - you will have to find an associate to special order it for you.
Once you wander through the Showroom maze you will eventually be dumped out downstairs at the Marketplace. Dazed and enlightened (this is when you will be glad I told you to eat something) you will now be tasked to find all your treasures. At this point if you thought to yourself - I didn't need to write it down - you will realize that you were indeed wrong. Because there are THOUSANDS of things for sale down there. So notes in hand - here are my tips to get you through.
The Marketplace is divided into two areas
- There is a normal shopping-type-aisle-area for the smaller stuff - lamps, linens, bath stuff, kitchen tools, art, etc.
- You will probably need a cart here to get all your goodies picked up so grab one when you get dumped out in the Marketplace.
- If you see something you like and it is on sale - pick it up. If you decide you don't want it, there are bins in front of the checkout to dump things in. But things go fast. Kelly thought she liked a lamp, looked at the rest of them, decided she wanted it and in the space of like 10 minutes they were sold out.
- They will sell the floor model only if they will be out of stock for a couple weeks.
- Make sure you get all the accessories. Some of their products need specific accessories (i.e. some of the lamps only take specific Ikea bulbs).
- Again - remember your want vs. need list. If you think - oh I need that and then you get down to the Marketplace and realize it is slightly more complicated than you thought to put together (i.e. some of their blind systems are like this) - stop and make sure you are making the right decision before you purchase.
- The next area of the Marketplace is the HUGE self-serve furniture pickup area. If you are buying furniture - get your flat rolling cart and get to it.
- Most furniture items are there for you to go find (this is when you need that aisle and bin number off the red tag). If you didn't write down that info - there are little self serve computer stations that will let you look it up. They will also tell you if they are instock.
- Make sure you check when you are picking up the item that you HAVE the right one. This is self serve so people pick things up and put them back in the wrong place. Check the tag and the color to make sure you have the right one.
- If you are getting a couch or a mattress - no one will expect you to get that off the shelf yourself. Tell an associate what you need and they will print you off a paper to take to the register where once you purchase it - someone will bring it out to you.
So tell me, are you guys Ikea converts already or scared to death to even try to navigate the store? Do the cheap prices justify the crazy experience? Have you had a good or bad Ikea experience? I wanna know! Oh and I hope to give you a run down soon of what all I got when I was there - I may have scored a piece of furniture that will help complete a room I have been working on forever!