Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Ikea Experience

On Sunday Brad and I experienced Ikea together for the first time ever. And I do not use the term experience lightly; the venture was definitely an experience, as "shopping at Ikea" can't quite convey the goings-on. 

Each of us remembers having been there once before, but not together. Brad vaguely recalls a visit during the early part of college, something like 12 years ago (yee-ikes!). My trip was also more than a decade ago, when my soon-to-be freshman roommate came down from Erie for a visit and a bit of shopping so we could coordinate was was to be our (very unhappy) dorm room. 

Anyway, I can safely say Brad and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we set out for the Ikea in Robinson, which is about 15 minutes west of the city and a 50-minute drive from our house; we had no idea what we were doing while we were wandering, lost-feeling but nonetheless pleased, around the store; and we still had pretty much no idea what had happened after we got to the car with our un-bagged purchases. (They don't give you bags - ?!) 

But, it was still a great success, as we managed to buy what we set out to buy (and quite a few other goodies to boot, without totally breaking the bank) and you better believe we will be returning. 

The inspiration for this shopping trip was the Ikea Erslev rug, a white, almost 5x7, steal of a rug at $39.99. You simply can't beat that price, especially if you're looking for a rug to paint. Yes, I said paint

It's simple with a soft texture and only $40 - excellent! 
Recently, as I've been mulling over rug options for our nursery decorating project, I've looked at a lot of painted rugs around the blogsphere - and about 80% of these tutorials make use of the Ikea Erslev rug. Painting a rug - a low-priced one, of course - is an economical way to customize the look you want for a price you can live with (and mixing fabric medium with your paint keeps the rug nice and soft). I love me a pretty rug right straight from the Pottery Barn catalog as much as anyone else does, but I have a very hard time with the thought of parting with two hundred and fifty or three hundred dollars to get said rug into my home. (I did find a Dash and Albert rug for $104 that I liked well enough, but it wasn't perfect.) 

When I checked the Ikea website a few weeks ago, I found either that rug or something comparable (I can't remember now), but when I looked on Friday, it was gone. Nowhere to be found. Nada. Dis-a-ppeared. The best I could get from the Ikea site was an error message. I was not pleased, to say the (very) least. 

A call to Ikea, however, revealed that the rug was still available in the Pittsburgh store (but for how long?!), and so Brad and I planned a Sunday trip to snag it. Actually to snag two (b/c you never know where/when you might need a nice, cheap, versatile rug!). 

Anyway, I guess I expected Ikea to be like a normal store where you walk in, see the labeled areas of the store, go to the area you're interested in, and browse products lined up on shelves or hanging on racks. Maybe this was a dumb expectation? Regardless, it was not the case.

Instead, Brad and I found ourselves in a maze of rooms, wondering if we had gotten lost in the course of our wandering, writing down product names and locations (e.g., Rugs and Textiles) with a little mini golf pencil provided near the entrance, snapping smartphone pictures of things we liked but that I felt I could do a better (read: cheaper) job making. 

Then we took some stairs (I think) down to what (I think) was called the "Market." Here we traded in our (empty) over-sized, yellow shopping bag for a much more practical shopping cart. And then the real shopping began. We got some apple-scented candles. We picked up a few BPA-free plastic 365+ food storage containers to aid in our kitchen cabinet organization project (which has been going for, er, um, oh, like 6 months now). We got some $.59 drinking glasses and a beer mug. 

And of course, we gleefully grabbed our rugs. I also wanted a handful of Ribba frames for the little guy's room and into the cart went those as well. 

These white 9x9 shadow box frames come with white matting, and you really can't do better than their $9.99 price tag. I was tempted to cheap out (after all, $60 for frames isn't exactly my style), but for matching frames of just the right size that require NO SANDING, PAINTING, OR OTHER EFFORT ON MY PART, I was willing to part with the moola. Plus, as my mother pointed out, they can be used over and over again. So, they're well worth the investment in my mind. 

And so with 19 items we (illegally) went through the self-checkout (limit: 15 items) to avoid the heinous lines (this place was packed), then loaded our goods straight from our cart - remember, no bags - into the Honda. It was a whirlwind experience, with people everywhere, and several moments where I was sure we were never getting out of that store. I'm sure I missed like 15 cool things; I definitely wrote down the names of some items that mean basically nothing to me at this point. 

I'd give the Ikea experience a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Less than perfect b/c you (seriously) had to read directions (and pay attention to them, which I didn't do) to figure out how to properly shop there - but a pretty darn good score regardless.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, we’ve got an IKEA here in Kuwait, too. The Arab folks love it! My wife can spend some serious C A S H at IKEA.

    Happy to hear you had a pleasant experience.

    It’s true, they don’t give out bags. It’s a European thing. Go shopping in any grocery store in Germany without bring your own bags, and people will look at you as if you’re from another world. It’s common practice to bring your own bags in most stores in Europe, nowadays.