It seems that there are more than a few people in the world who don’t get Ikea. Like, they think their life would be better off without it. They point out that shopping at Ikea isn’t fun, and while they’re right, they have successfully missed the point entirely. It isn’t supposed to be fun. You’re at a furniture shop after all, not Thorpe Park.
Ikea serves a purpose, and it does so very well. Every now and then, I will be in my house, staring at a pile of loose clothing, and I will think “that would look much less awful if it was encased in wood-effect laminated chipboard”. Actually, it is generally my wife who thinks that, while I then agree to do something about it because, joke alert, I love my wife and respect her opinion! Any true “comedian” would use this opportunity to tell everyone how much they hate their wife’s nagging voice, to which I inevitably respond “why did you marry her then?” If you don’t value your wife’s view on these things, maybe you shouldn’t be sharing your life with her, just a thought?
Anyway, I would happily live in a cave, with two piles of clothes labelled “Dirty” and “Wearable”, but I know that my wife would hate living in a draughty cave, so we go to Ikea instead (not to live, though i realise there is a bit missing to the narrative.). Ikea seems almost unique because their prices don’t physically gouge out your eyes when you look at them, and yet the products look better than if I made them myself. Seriously, if you told me that power tools were originally invented with the purpose of maiming the first person who tried to use them, I would tell you I can relate to that story. You do not want furniture that I have made myself.
And yet, there isn’t really anyone else that springs to mind with the same design/value company policy. Even the consumer-finance driven tatty sofa shops that advertise on TV (“Pay nothing for 3 YEARS!”) that I have occasionally wandered into are made to appear unreasonably dear by Ikea’s wares. So why the hate?
First off, people get annoyed about the shop layout. “Ikea make me walk around their whole shop just to see some pans,” they bleat, not realising that Ikea isn’t fucking making them do anything. What they mean is that “my wife is making me walk around Ikea, and I’m too old to be left in the ball-pit.” Think about it, if 2 men went to Ikea (for the sake of continuity, they are still buying pans), they would proceed straight to the pan section, buy pans, then leave. Women actually enjoy the chance to consider bed spreads and curtains, even though they don’t need either.
I once read that shopping conjures up different genetic behaviours in men and women. Men are predisposed to seek out their prey, hunt it down, kill it and go home, whereas women are drawn to picking fruit from trees, and so are more likely to consider their job unfinished unless every apple has been picked. Also, because antelopes are much more scarce then apples, men will take the first one they find, whereas women are more likely to browse for the nicest looking apple. This translates pretty accurately, I think, to modern day shopping, and I am shamelessly stealing the theory and seeking to make it my own. Anyway, Ikea are clearly readers of the same webzines as me, because they know about this theory as well. They also know that when a couple is shopping together, the woman will drag the man around her circuitous route, and that the man is far more likely to agree to purchasing something when he is tired and bored, as he thinks that maybe it will ease his transition into the next life, and because he left his will to argue somewhere around the picture frames.
Another issue people have is the Ikea restaurant. My Dad in particular hates the concept: “Why would you eat at a shop?” he enquires, forgetting that people eat at schools and a lot of workplaces in very much the same environment. The point is that there are only 18 Ikea stores in the UK, including 4 in London, which is the only city to have more than 1 store. The likelihood is that you’ve travelled some distance to get there, and you have a similar journey back (this time with a clothes rail preventing you from changing gear properly because you couldn’t fit it in the boot). Ikea know this and know that the average first world person can’t go more than about 4 hours without getting hungry. If they didn’t have a restaurant, people would be eating somewhere else nearby, and ultimately spending less time being in Ikea. It isn’t a restaurant really, you’re right, but it doesn’t want to be (despite the misleading name “Ikea restaurant”). It doesn’t suit you or Ikea to have a waiter bringing you 3 courses over a period measured in hours, because that isn’t why you’re there.
And yes, they serve (probable) horse meatballs. Them and everyone else. I can’t say I’m thrilled by the scandal, but I am pretty confident that everyone selling “meat” at these prices has some news up their sleeve, and I’m pretty much past worrying. Same with the “bacteria in the cake” story. Again, not very pleasant reading, but I recently learnt that the UK bread makers testing board (or whatever their name is) has an accepted tolerance for grams of mice faeces per ton of grain, so don’t kid yourself that you’re any better than me. I mean, you probably are, but you still eat shit.