I went to Ikea, and didn’t buy a thing.

ikea

Not a single thing.

Despite heading to Atlanta for Braves games several times a year, I’d never dared the infamous Ikea. Several friends have gone and brought back glowing reviews.

Today I found myself in Atlanta with no where to be for a few hours. Totally just for fun, I looked up the Ikea. It was only three minutes away, so I decided to “stop in and just see it for a few.” Ha ha ha.

Why didn’t someone warn me!? Why isn’t there an employee at the doorway giving instructions!? Why isn’t there a manual on this place!?

Never been? Well, here are seven ins and outs of the 99 zillion square foot store:

1) It’s more of a tourist destination than a retailer.

I’ll compare it to a tourist locale for two reasons: 1) the crowds and; 2) the all-inclusive feel. It has a restaurant (that still serves those meatballs), a kid’s play zone, and a 300 pack of off-brand napkins.

2) Speaking of brands, there are none.

This shouldn’t have been surprising to me, as Ikea is a world-wide store that orginated in Sweden. They do have brands, but none you’re going to find at Home Depot, Lowe’s or Beth, Bath & Beyond. Don’t expect to buy a GE stove, but do expect to buy a stove that doesn’t have a brand name written anywhere on it.

3) Stoves? Yes, Ikea sells appliances.

I’ll give them some credit here. I found a stainless steel slide-in stove for $999, elsewhere they retail for around $2,300. In addition to stoves, microwaves, ovens and more, they also sell several types of bath and kitchen fixtures.

4) It’s not really cheap… or is it?

Ikea is supposedly famous for the low cost furniture and home decor. After my two-hour visit today, I won’t say I agree with the claim to fame. Don’t get me wrong, there are several values and deals. However, the majority of items I can find in my local Wal-Mart, Target, or even Dollar General for the same price. This was particularly true with the press-wood furniture, which can be found at any local Wal-Mart.

5) It’s not the kind of place to go to alone…

Seriously. Go with a spouse, go with a friend, go with your third grade best friend, but go with someone else. Singles like me get lost.

6) Price tags aren’t on the smaller items.

I get Ikea on this one. Since they have over a million items in the store, it would be impossible to include a tag on everything. But find the perfect rug that’s been misplaced? Don’t think about finding a price.

7) Lost? Okay, here’s how it works:

Guides and maps are for navigating the store and buying items. There are two floors: The upstairs part of the store is set up in mostly “showroom” form and includes the furniture and larger items. Downstairs has smaller items like silverware, lamps and ironing boards.

Items upstairs that are smaller usually have a tag with the department where they can be found. When one desires a larger item, like furniture, he/she takes down the product number, the aisle number and the bin number on a reference guide for the cashier.

The guide is complete with a map that shows the most convenient way to flow around the store, which will take about two hours on a crowded day. One can “go back” to a previously visited department, but the traffic flow and size of the store makes it nearly impossible. (That cheese grater you saw a few minutes ago? Forget it).

In all seriousness, I do wish they’d have a greeter explaining the system to newbies.

photo

All of the above being said, I don’t believe it’s a terrible store, it just wasn’t for me. I realize I’m in the minority on this. I do think it would be a great place for building a home, or buying furnishings for a newly purchased home. The appliances seemed to have the best value and cost, and it would be super easy to do an entire matching-kitchen or bath.

Still want to check out an Ikea? Go on a weekday, with a friend.

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