Ikea – A Theme Park or Purgatory on earth? It’s definitely not Kansas.

I’ve been to IKEA three times and vowed on each occassion never to go back. The first two visits I escaped without actually buying anything – I think on those occassions I must have got picked up by the fast flowing stream of mankind pouring through the store and was washed up, beaten and exhausted, back outside in the car park within 15 minutes.

This time, however, I was prepared – or more correctly our intrepid party of hunter gatherers were prepared – we had a list!

I really don’t get the IKEA thing – so arriving in a near full car park (that dwarfs any of our National Sporting stadiums car parks) I started to feel a wee bit out of my comfort zone. Hmmmm …. maybe Saturday afternoon was the wrong time for me to get over my fear of drowning in IKEA.

IKEA is, of course, genius. It has survived and flourished while the flat pack king of the UK has shrivalled and died – MFI. Just why IKEA has flourished is of course obvious to anyone who has “done Disney”.

There is a Yellow Brick Road approach to IKEA – follow the Yellow Brick Road and you will be lead as if on some automated Disney ride through sitting rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. Leave the designated path, however, and you  may never make it back – you’ll wander in circles and fall exhausted on a bed made from recycled Schweppes’ boxes and old rope. 

As we were gently pulled through IKEA by the underfloor magnets it became harder and harder to resist their magical power and then, thankfully, the spell was broken. We arrived in the Childrens IKEA zone – so much of a shock to the iris that it woke me up from my drugged state. This was Munchkin Land meeting Willy Wonka – colourful boxes and shapes and…. well….. just colours really. I started singing “It’s a small world after all” under my breath to keep my courage up as we picked up our pace and made it out of Munchkin Land safely (thats me, Dorothy and Toto).

And then like all good Disney Rides there is the descent down the waterfall – pushchairs go via the lifts – able bodied IKEAns can go down the stairs. Phew nearly out? Nope….. we emerge into the boggy marshland of kitchenware where the path splits and meandors and the human tide spreads like an amazon basin (Thats “Amazon” as in the online retailer and “basin” as in available in silver for £4.99).

But now the challenge of the jungle ride begins to emerge…..in the distance Goliath stands above you, its the Self Service Warehouse…..eh? Who in their right mind would think that a Self Service Warehouse is a cosy and comforting term. We sent Toto ahead to scale the 60 feet shelving and bring back the couch, wardrobe and Plasma cabinet on his back. He seemed a bit put out – but I’ve got my hernia excuse and Dorothy had Ruby slippers on – she hadn’t packed boots and crampons.

And finally the check outs, I feel the need for Kendal mint cake but with it sadly unavailable – I sit on a bargain corner settee and wait. Dorothy and Toto show our wares to the Oompa Loompas on the tills who promptly charge us 75 pence for having the cheek to buy something from them with plastic.  And the IKEAn ride is finished….. so now just the obligatory Gift Shop to negotiate – as is the case at the end of all Disney Rides. The IKEAn Gods are clearly knowledgeable in the ways of man and the gift shop is a fast food outlet – queues are long. We pass by – no sign of Kendal Mint Cake anywhere. 

Finished? nope! – Now the Maelstrom – the pick up point. One of the most dangerous areas I have ever seen. Tired men and women forcing overlong boxes into overshort vehicles. Drivers reversing into traffic, pedestrians dashing in front of out of control Volvo Estates and even the occasional Oompa Loompa carrying away mentally exhausted shoppers. Tempers high. Loved ones now your sworn enemy for life.

As we eventually drive away (with Dorothy squashed in the back because she is more flexible than the rug we have bought) I begin to wonder why we (thats the UK we) are prepared to put up with this very special type of Purgatory. At a time when the Catholic Church have decided Purgatory isn’t really a place we seem to have built one in every major City. I didn’t love my MFI experiences when I was back in Kansas – but at least they were sane and there were no underfloor magnets to drive you along. MFI even had staff who sometimes came out of hiding to help you buy things. Why are we prepared to accept the IKEAn ride along model – the stuff isn’t great and the prices not that cheap. I’m disapointed that IKEA flourish at other stores expense- it doesn’t seem fair. 

As for our IKEA list – we got most things – though despite several side missions never found a tattie champer – do Swedes not champ tatties?

As usual I vow never to go back – so see you there next week with the Family Loyalty card we picked up. A Loyalty Card…….for flat pack…. what next?


2 Responses to “Ikea – A Theme Park or Purgatory on earth? It’s definitely not Kansas.”

  1. October 10, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Hahaha. It s ok here for Malaysia’s Ikea.

  2. 2 idmurphy1962
    October 12, 2009 at 10:23 am

    My favourite quote about Ikea comes from David Byrne’s blog, (genius singer songwriter and ex-Talking Head)

    “IKEA is huge. We went up to the second floor where the shelves, sofas, tables and lamps are all arrayed into tasteful little room settings — rooms, but with mysterious tags hanging everywhere. Immediately I thought it was like entering a videogame world. Who lives here? What do they do? Why is that book on the table? Is that significant? Could it be some kind of clue to the occupant’s identity?… ”


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