The origin story of Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd, aka IKEA
February 4, 2017 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Ingvar Feodor Kamprad was born on 30 March 1926, on a small farm called Elmtaryd near the village of Agunnaryd, in the Swedish province of Småland. Kamprad was selling matches when he was six, and at ten, he was selling Christmas decorations, fish and pencils in his neighborhood by bicycle. At 17, Kamprad’s father rewarded him with a small sum of money for doing well in school, despite being dyslexic. With this funding, Ingvar founded a business named IKEA, an abbreviation for Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd, his boyhood home. From this humble beginning, he grew his small business into an international company, and is now one of the richest men in the world (more or less).
posted by filthy light thief (92 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
At ten, he was selling Christmas decorations, fish and pencils in his neighborhood by bicycle

This is Sweden in a (k)nutshell.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:06 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Oops, here's some extra links. I thought I fit them all in... (Credit to tonycpsu for this joke)
posted by filthy light thief at 9:10 AM on February 4 [10 favorites]


Given that the Fanfare thread about Fight Club is all about IKEA, it would be fitting if this thread was all about Fight Club, wouldn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 9:12 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Hey, what is the first rule of IKEA Club?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:16 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Something to do with meatballs?
posted by Grangousier at 9:17 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]


(For what it's worth, I like IKEA very much when it fulfils my need for relatively sturdy and conservatively designed household objects at a reasonable price. Similarly Muji, though their prices are more premium in London than they need to be.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:19 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I remember getting a lift to the Wembley IKEA a while ago, arriving shortly before opening time on Sunday. The car park was full of people attentively watching the front doors. When the doors opened they surged forwards. It was a kind of pilgrimage.

I sneaked in the back doors to the main warehouse bit, collected what I needed and was out before the first of the pilgrims had reached the bedding department.

The problem seems to be that I have more to say about IKEA than I do about Fight Club.
posted by Grangousier at 9:22 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Here's the FanFare thread for Fight Club.

In Southern California, Burbank is getting a newer, bigger IKEA, less than 1 mile away from an existing store. The new one (opening soon) will be the biggest in the US, but as pointed out in this slideshow of giant IKEA stores, the biggest in North America is in Montreal, which doubled in size in its 2012-13 expansion.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:22 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


IKEA has a somewhat... unconventional corporate structure. The Economist did an in-depth writeup back in 2006 about it.
posted by zrail at 9:29 AM on February 4 [11 favorites]


At 17, Kamprad’s father rewarded him with a small sum of money for doing well in school, despite being dyslexic.

Another thing that happened to him when he was 17 was that the Swedish Security Service opened a file on him, simply titled "Nazi", based on his connections to Swedish fascists. He calls that a youthful mistake that he bitterly regret, and afaik there have never been any signs of any extremist views in his work with Ikea, rather the opposite, but it seems he's never fully managed to see a connection between his fascist friends and the practical results of their views.
posted by effbot at 9:30 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]


...based on his connections to Swedish fascists.

I was present in a PR training program for Ikea management and mitigating the Nazi connections was one of their subjects.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 9:37 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Hey, what is the first rule of IKEA Club?

Don't poop in the ballroom.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:38 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


There's a cross-over point with IKEA where you discover that if you're considering buying a whole bunch of IKEA shelves and whatnot to build some gigantic project, you might be able to hire somebody to build it for you, exactly the way you want it, for less.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:41 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Hey, what is the first rule of IKEA Club?

Something to do with meatballs?

Easy, you don't talk about what's on the meatballs
posted by lmfsilva at 9:47 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


There's a HUGE difference in quality and craftsmanship between MUJI and IKEA. That's like comparing artisanal handcrafted leather purse by someone who was an apprentice and journeyman before they opened up on their own versus cobbling it together from a youtube tutorial in cheapest china.
posted by infini at 9:55 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Why yes my landlady's IKEA cabinets and cupboards keep falling apart at the drawers just when I'm leaving for work in the morning, spilling all my socks on the floor, how did you guess?
posted by infini at 9:57 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Kamprad '20: Rebuilding America One Assembly Dowel at a Time
posted by the sobsister at 9:57 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


From Wikipedia: "He reportedly recycles tea bags and is known to pocket the salt and pepper packets at restaurants."

TIL the founder of IKEA is my grandmother.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:01 AM on February 4 [18 favorites]


There's an IKEA opening not far from me this year. I'm unduly excited about it.
posted by emjaybee at 10:18 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I've never had anything I've built from IKEA come out as shaky and cheap as I've heard described. I always shake the stuff myself at the store before I buy anything. I figure if the floor model is shaky that means they couldn't put it together right themselves so why should I? My objection is that they go too far with the clever and get into "do it right the first time or spend an hour trying to get it apart again." I don't particularly think their approach to cabinet doors works unless you've done a bunch of them already.

My electrician makes money on the side putting IKEA furniture together. He was working on something for me once and asked if the bookshelves were IKEA. Yes. Did I put them together myself? Yes. He then told me people buy IKEA furniture and never put it together until someone like him comes along, and then they'll ask if he'll do it for them. He used to say no, but so many people ask him that he now says yes because it's easy money. He's never been to IKEA.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:24 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


I have had to leave an IKEA empty handed so as to avoid ABSOLUTELY LOSING MY SHIT. The last time I was there an employee confided that he'd seen people break down and cry. One guy just dropped all the stuff he was carrying and lay down on a floor model bed. To cry.

IKEA is an inoffensively decorated hellscape.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:25 AM on February 4 [11 favorites]


The IKEA walk through

As for Fight Club... technically I thinks it's a brilliant movie. It has so many sneak FXs shots (like the camera going behind the fridge) and other tidbits, and nice music.
posted by coust at 10:25 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Don't talk about Fight Club.
posted by mochapickle at 10:37 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


it must be difficult to be in various industries in sweden when he comes into your place of business. like how could you resist giving him all the individual ingredients of the full meal he just ordered in your restaurant, putting down kitchen tools instead of silverware, and then just cackling madly.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:38 AM on February 4 [15 favorites]


IKEA is particularly weird, in that it doesn't have a single credible competitor. Within its market-segment, nobody even comes close to IKEA (and there's a huge chasm between IKEA stuff and anything upmarket of it, in terms of price, style, and quality).
posted by schmod at 11:00 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


This belongs in all Ikea threads: Lamp.

Also: Moo Cow.
posted by effbot at 11:04 AM on February 4


When I was 17 I was downloading mp3s off napster and burning them to cd for drinking money.

I should also mention both my parents were Swedish. And I've never failed at assembling flat-pack furniture. I've heard IKEA called the divorce maker. You should go to Denmark and figure out Lego first. I pity your honeymoon if not sticking together interlocking parts winds up in divorce.
posted by adept256 at 11:05 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


oooh, that's almost the first thing the mr and I did together - build IKEA furnishings for a common public space. The secret is in dividing up the items according to reach and ability, with the occasional helping hand to steady a panel or hold two edges for joining. I think I surprised him. But I keep doing that. Allegedly, its part of my charm.
posted by infini at 11:18 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I don't understand or trust people who dislike IKEA. It combines the best parts of hiking and a museum, and the whole dang thing is a gift shop.

And I really like their salmon bbq sandwich.
posted by MuppetNavy at 11:34 AM on February 4 [23 favorites]


Also, you usually get to watch a couple get in a major fight, almost always near the trash can section, and wonder if they're gonna stay together if they're yelling over whether the $4 cheap trash can is as good as the $12 one.
posted by MuppetNavy at 11:35 AM on February 4 [12 favorites]


I've never understood the whole thing about IKEA trips leading to nervous breakdowns or ending relationships, and I hate shopping. Of course, when my wife and I go we have a list and we grab the things on the list (and little to nothing else) and get out as fast as we can. It would probably be a different story if we just wandered around aimlessly trying to decide what we wanted.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:42 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Horse meatballs. Horses are pets, and much loved too (most of the time, gambling grrr)! You'd push away a dish with dog or cat in it. But if they told you it was chicken? Or tofu? And they lied about it?
posted by adept256 at 11:44 AM on February 4


Never been to an IKEA. But, Indianapolis is finally getting one of their very own, so I suppose I'll have to make a pilgrimage.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:46 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


"There is no mistaking the Ikea Museum. The room sets for each decade are arranged inside giant cardboard boxes. One glass cabinet is dedicated to a single meatball on a fork. Another displays a humble Allen key, giver of life to flat-pack furniture. The museum, housed on the site of the chain’s first store in Älmhult, in southern Sweden, is a celebration of everything Ikea. Even the original concrete floor, scuffed and scarred, proves Ikea’s work ethic, economy and longevity, according to our tour guide."
posted by philfromhavelock at 11:52 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


IKEA used to sell pianos. It's mentioned in one their books (about IKEA) that they sell (at IKEA). I've only been able to find that one reference online.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:02 PM on February 4


There were a lot of people hoping Ingvar would buy Saab when it was on the ropes, but he's been driving an old Volvo for years. (Why is that not a surprise?)
posted by lagomorphius at 12:06 PM on February 4


IKEA used to sell pianos.

What? That's amazing. I don't know if they were pre-assembled, but I would love nothing more than to build my own piano. I'm actually sad that our apartment is so small and our funds so limited, because if I could spend all my free time assembling the biggest, most complex furniture from IKEA, I would. A piano would be the peak of the IKEA assembly experience.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:06 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


I just want to say...I am about to board a flight to work overseas for a month and I am feeling like doo doo cuz I'll miss my kiddo and my girlfriend but it just warms my cockles knowing I get to bring all you damn Fight Club fans with me in my pocket. God bless us everyone.
posted by ian1977 at 12:12 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


when my wife and I go we have a list and we grab the things on the list (and little to nothing else) and get out as fast as we can.

I'd heard about but never had the IKEA (store or assembling) experience until I moved cross-country on a shoestring and had to jettison all of my furniture to save money - to be fair the majority of it was second-hand, so it wasn't a big deal to feed it back into the Goodwill/Salvation Army ecosystem from whence it came. But then I had to re-furnish on a severe budget after I moved, and this time I vowed not to go Full Bachelor Pad with mismatched furniture, cable-spool side tables, etc. I also didn't have a car at the time, which would have made it prohibitively difficult to do that anyway. Fortunately my new city had an IKEA.

To get to the reason I pulled the quote above, before I set foot in the store I obsessively studied the website and catalog over and over again, finally narrowing my list down to a few things that seemed to be made as well as possible for the lower end of their price spectrum. When I did finally visit the store I was able to zoom through pretty quickly, homing in on what I'd pre-selected and only having to make a few substitutions on the fly once I got to look at the actual items. I can see how overwhelming it could be if you visited it cold, there are SO MANY possible choices to have to make!

Despite all the horror stories, I didn't find assembly too challenging...though I did have to really ponder certain steps for a while before they became clear. It probably helped that I was already a fairly handy DIY-er...

Now about 95% of my furniture is IKEA, apart from the occasional flatpacked piece from Amazon (which in general seems less well-made) when I couldn't find exactly what I needed at IKEA. It'll never be heirloom stuff, but considering I completely decorated a home rather stylishly for a couple thousand bucks at most I'm okay with that. Most of it has even survived a couple moves with some judicious semi-disassembling for the bulkiest pieces.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:19 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


IKEA used to sell pianos. It's mentioned in one their books (about IKEA) that they sell. I've only been able to find that one reference online.

Here's what's in the box.

More seriously (google google) it seems RENN was their label for audio and music equipment. The pianos were supposedly built in Italy. Here's an ad for RENN hifi equipment from 1971, available from the audio departments in their four stores.
posted by effbot at 12:25 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


I would love nothing more than to build my own piano.

This is probably about as close as you can get. Although there are plenty of harpsichord kit makers, some priced quite reasonably. You'd need a pretty big shop to put a modern piano together from scratch although there are people who restore them in their garages.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:48 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I love IKEA. I don't understand why people think it's stressful. You need an end table? Here are all the end tables, pick one or don't.

I actually go to the IKEA in Red Hook to relax...from the train station it's about a 20 minute walk through a lot of nothing in particular, and when you get there, there's a fantastic ocean view, and you can wander around fantasizing about furnishings (the employees will not bother you, you're allowed to wander around and backtrack as slowly as you want), and then get a cheap plate lunch (if you don't get a meat, sometimes the counter ladies will charge you for a kid's meal) and a quarter-pound of unusual pick-and-mix out front. There's a view of the Statue of Liberty and the people-watching is good. The Emeryville one was nice, too, but much more crowded and didn't have much of a view. I can usually find an excuse to go-- a new fruit peeler or an oven mitt or something. If they sold canning jars I'd be there all the time.

WOW I'm boring sometimes. Man.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:14 PM on February 4 [25 favorites]


You'd push away a dish with dog or cat in it.

No I wouldn't.

Ikea was a godsend for a Dane growing up in Hong Kong - licorice! Knækbrød! Sild! (Even if it's the slightly wrong Swedish versions of the same).
posted by Dysk at 1:20 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Re: The stress and crying, I once went there with a friend who was furnishing her new apartment. She had just moved to a new city, new job, moved far away from the ruins of a serious relationship in her mid 30s. She made it about half way before breaking down in tears. I suspect that IKEA gets a lot of customers in similar straits, and the whole time they are shopping, they are thinking about what got them there. Since it can take hours, I guess I'm not surprised that breakdowns are common.
posted by surlyben at 1:25 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


I visited the IKEA in Älmhult a few times: when I first moved to Sweden it was my nearest store (but still not very near —it was a good hour and a half’s drive from Karlskrona where I lived). I always thought of it as The Mothership, as flat-pack Ground Zero, even though obviously they weren’t the original premises. I never took the time to visit the museum there. Småland in general unnerved me: as someone accustomed to the more crowded landscape in the UK, it seemed like one endless forest sparsely punctuated by lakes & unprepossessing little towns. Älmhult felt like the back of beyond to me, likewise Ljungby, where I went once on a business trip. And then it’s a little way further off the beaten track from either of those places to Agunnaryd…
posted by misteraitch at 1:39 PM on February 4


I'm thinking of visiting the IKEA Museum next time I have a reason to travel between Stockholm and Malmö (Almhult is a stop on that railway line); it sounds like it'd appeal to the design nerd in me.

On a tangent: at some point, I want to find a conveniently located IKEA in a continental European country, just to pick up the European version of that 3-port USB charger they sell. I have three of the UK version, but that, with the chunky UK pins and an adapter, adds considerable bulk to my luggage when travelling anywhere in the European-220V-plug-using regions of the world. (I saw the svelte European version of my adapter at an Airbnb in Iceland and felt immediate jealousy.)
posted by acb at 1:41 PM on February 4


Quality-wise, in my experience Ikea flat-pack furniture is cheaper and better than other brands of flat-pack furniture. And in my lifetime I've probably assembled close to a 100 Ikea items, and have never been missing a single screw or other part.
posted by Harald74 at 1:45 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


I don't understand or trust people who dislike IKEA. It combines the best parts of hiking and a museum, and the whole dang thing is a gift shop.

I don't feel like you and I have quite the same experience of hiking.
posted by brennen at 2:22 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


We just moved and in the process needed to buy a couple of beds. We went to visit a local store and priced a not specially fancy queen sized bed and mattress. Then we went to IKEA and bought two queen beds and mattresses, new bedding, four nightstands, a kitchen table, some utility shelving and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff (trash cans, door mats, lamps…) for less than the cost of the one bed. The furniture we chose is all made of solid wood, so though the quality is not stellar it’s not that bad; the decision was a no brainer.

Putting it all together isn’t difficult if you are methodical and follow the steps, and it gets easier by the time you make multiples of the same thing, though the process is somewhat tedious. It did help that one of my sons pitched in with the beds which, being large, were much easier with two people. Using an electric screwdriver (they sell those too) makes it less tiring — the kitchen table alone had 64 of one particular type of screw*.

The downside was that I ended up making four trips to the store over the course of a week. The hardest part was that I was by myself for the main trip. Buying two queen sized beds and mattresses is cumbersome when you are alone: it took three trips through the checkout as I wrestled the stuff off the shelves past the cashier, out into the parking lot, and into the back of the car (having first taken a tape measure to the packaging to make sure it would all fit).

Under other circumstances I might choose to buy elsewhere, but as things are the place is tough to beat if your budget is constrained.


*None of the 64 were missing, but one of the nightstands was missing a small screw — I’m glad I was going back anyway as an extra trip or messing with customer service just for one screw would have been maddening.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:24 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


How do other Mefites dispose of IKEA furniture that has reached end-of-life?

I kind of feel bad dumping it when its still pretty sturdy but because its scuffed up, it'd just end up taking up space at a Thrift store. College students in my neighbourhood are not starving.
posted by porpoise at 2:27 PM on February 4


I remember shopping at the first and only (at that time) Ikea in the USA, in Plymouth Meeting Pennsylvania (a little north of Philadelphia). It seemed almost revolutionary then, a place where you could walk from room to professionally-designed room and get decent-looking stuff for very reasonable prices. Because of what I assume is globalization I don't get that same feeling anymore. There are somewhat unique designs you won't see at other discount furniture places but there's a lot of thin particle-board and "foil" finished pieces too – quite flimsy and cheap-looking IMO, and there's more of those than they had in years past, as I recall. My great "Jerker" desk (subject of a thread here a few years ago!) is long gone, replaced by a similar-looking but pale imitation.
posted by keys at 2:30 PM on February 4


Putting it all together isn’t difficult if you are methodical and follow the steps, and it gets easier by the time you make multiples of the same thing, though the process is somewhat tedious.

I suspect most of IKEA furniture's reputation comes from people who are not, in fact, methodical or inclined to follow steps. Or even look to see what the steps are before starting.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:36 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


On a tangent: at some point, I want to find a conveniently located IKEA in a continental European country, just to pick up the European version of that 3-port USB charger they sell.

Is this where we set up some kind of charger exchange? We could ship you lettuce as well, but not sure if that'll make it through customs.

Here's Big Clive taking one of those apart, btw. He seems quite happy with both the electrical and the mechanical design.
posted by effbot at 2:51 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I kind of feel bad dumping it when its still pretty sturdy but because its scuffed up, it'd just end up taking up space at a Thrift store. College students in my neighbourhood are not starving.

As someone who lives near a college, I've found that putting it at the curb will make it disappear. Hell, even the futon chair frame, sans futon and with a tear in it, disappeared within 12 hours. I think of it as Freecycle without all the annoyance.
posted by tavella at 2:51 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


Craigslist to unload ikea stuff. Cash and carry or free if you're really desperate.

I once bought a giant expedit wall unit, got it home, opened it up to find one of my main boards just split in half. That was a pain. Otherwise have never had a part missing from an ikea product, though that example was especially glaring.

The reason people cry in ikea is that it's all potential--walk in, see the amazing rooms! But then they force you to walk through the entire showroom to see what you want and in my experience with multiple ikeas, eventually you get more and more drained until you are a hollow shell. And by that point you've been routed into the warehouse and they don't have the right color hemnes available anyway.

Where it really shines are the little things. Place mats. Vases. Toys!! $5 for a plush guinea pig. $10 for a fake brio train. Can't be beat.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:02 PM on February 4


they force you to walk through the entire showroom

At least in some stores there are maps on walls/pillars that show the shortcuts, some shorter than others, so you can avoid most of the meandering path through the showroom behind herds of straggling families, though that is not exactly obvious and some them may be via doors that aren't explicitly marked as such (no “This way to the egress” here!)
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 3:19 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Well, they all provide maps that point out these short cuts but it's not exactly intuitive and I'm sure it's not meant to be--they want you to walk through the entire showroom to get to the marketplace and then warehouse.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:20 PM on February 4


This belongs in all Ikea threads: Lamp yt .

Also: Moo Cow yt


Be sure to play these out with Get Cheras...! (previously)
posted by progosk at 3:23 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Well, they all provide maps that point out these short cuts but it's not exactly intuitive and I'm sure it's not meant to be--they want you to walk through the entire showroom to get to the marketplace and then warehouse.

Retail equivalent of a digestive tract.

See also: The Morning Reports' Guide to IKEA (2004)
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:55 PM on February 4


I never found IKEA to be a terrible place until I tried to go there on a nonspecific "I need a thing, but unsure which category of thing" mission with an impatient, hyperactive toddler, sans other adults. Jesus take the wheel.

Is IKEA-assembler a for real side-hustle? Because my flatpack assembly skills are unbeatable. I find it very calming, actually. Just, no one else get in my way or think you need to tell me what to do or where to stick the thing. In this house, IKEA assembly isn't a divorce-maker because it is purely a solo activity.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:56 PM on February 4 [14 favorites]


"He then told me people buy IKEA furniture and never put it together until someone like him comes along, and then they'll ask if he'll do it for them. He used to say no, but so many people ask him that he now says yes because it's easy money. He's never been to IKEA."

OMG, how much does he charge? I am going to put an ad on Craigslist like TODAY, I love building flatpack! I had no idea people would pay me for it.

I own several IKEA things (couch, bunkbeds, toy storage), although I have never actually been to IKEA because the closest one is 3 hours away, and driving 3 hours with kids who get car sick, shopping IKEA, and then driving back, seems unwise and stressful. So I'm limited to what they'll ship.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:35 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]




I have an unironic love of IKEA that is deep and profound. With a young childhood in the early '80s, it's a clean bright modern pretty egalitarian joy by comparison.

I mean IKEA is far more true to the modernist ideals (it's for everyone! Affordable, sensible, and whimsical!) than the overpriced Eames chairs hawked over at DWR.
posted by leotrotsky at 4:44 PM on February 4 [13 favorites]


We have a queen-sized IKEA Malm bed that has lasted over a decade. The dresser and night stands are long gone but that bed is just a fucking battleship. Been through four moves and umpteen pets leaping and climbing over it. It'll take a Trump-incited nuclear war to destroy that bed.

There's a couple music forums I belong to and when the topic of vinyl storage comes up the default for a lot of massive vinyl collections is the Expedit shelves from IKEA. Heavy enough to bear the weight without buckling and the style is reasonably attractive.

My wife used to love going to IKEA in Bloomington MN. I knew the shortcuts and she usually knew what she wanted so we could maneuver in and out fairly quickly. The key to avoid getting overwhelmed with humanity was simple. Avoid weekends, the holidays, and worst of all, back-to-school in August when parents of college freshmen and their spawn would clog the aisles from entrance to exit.
posted by Ber at 4:51 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


We have an IKEA kitchen and I still love how it looks 10 years later. But the top molding on the cabinet doors under the sink started peeling off from exposure to water, and they discontinued the Nexus Birch, so when we had to replace them it was pretty disappointing. Ditto my salad plates. When something you love at IKEA is gone, it's gone, baby.
posted by Mchelly at 4:58 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Ikea furniture has always been a disaster for me, wobbly as hell particle board junk that's at once too heavy and too flimsy, but their home-goods are legit bargains, esp. kitchen and bath stuff.

I miss the big canvas sacks they used to sell, tho. The ones made out of blue plastic are durable, but too stiff and noisy.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:02 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


In my living/dining room is currently: tv stand, sectional sofa, futon chair that folds out into a twin bed, side table, sideboard, and linen cabinet being used as a liquor cabinet, all from IKEA. The sideboard, chair, and TV stand are all 15 years old and have survived 4 moves.

If you know what you want and don't need to see the display version, get the IKEA app and set up your shopping list with that. Then you can skip the maze, go straight to the ground floor and it tells you the aisle/section for each piece.
posted by misskaz at 5:37 PM on February 4


I suspect most of IKEA furniture's reputation comes from people who are not, in fact, methodical or inclined to follow steps. Or even look to see what the steps are before starting.

Or overestimate the cargo capacity of their car. At my local IKEA the café overlooks the car loading zone. It can be great entertainment at times.
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:47 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


And IKEA is a non-profit. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:12 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


This thread! Fascism tendrils, and questionable non-profit status, and now I don't know what to make of this letter IKEA's country manager sent to US employees after Trump's EO; the "We are also committed to supporting impacted co-workers and their immediate families by providing FREE legal advice from experienced licensed attorneys through our IKEA iCare benefits. Certified and trained iCare counselors are also available 24/7 to help co-workers with the emotional and mental toll this situation may take on them and their families...." part seemed so nice, but the bit about "We are working to identify any co-workers who are directly impacted by this action, and I ask any co-worker who believes that this order impacts them or their family to contact the Benefits hotline immediately by calling..." is an eyebrow-lifter.
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 6:41 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Well, they all provide maps that point out these short cuts but it's not exactly intuitive and I'm sure it's not meant to be--they want you to walk through the entire showroom to get to the marketplace and then warehouse.

I went to the local IKEA with my mom last month; she was picking up one kitchen thing right near the front entrance. I showed her the shortcut which had us at the checkout in about twenty seconds and she could not have been more astonished if I had thrown open the doors of a CHELEMBY and shown her a lamppost and Mr. Tumnus.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:01 PM on February 4 [17 favorites]


As someone who lives near a college, I've found that putting it at the curb will make it disappear. Hell, even the futon chair frame, sans futon and with a tear in it, disappeared within 12 hours. I think of it as Freecycle without all the annoyance.

Pro tip: Want it to disappear even faster? Put a sign on it that says $20.
posted by maxwelton at 7:36 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Why do IKEA screws always strip?

Answer - they aren't pure Phillips head screws, but something called Pozidriv, which apparently no one knows about.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:07 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


I was just going to bring up the Pozidriv thing. The first time I used a Pozidriv bit to assemble IKEA furniture was a revelation. They don't slip, strip, or cam out, ever. I already really liked putting together IKEA stuff but this just took it to the next level. Me plus an electric screwdriver plus a Pozidriv bit plus hex bits equals a flat pack furniture assembling machine.
posted by zsazsa at 10:40 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


I have a strange obsession with putting together IKEA shit. It's like a giant puzzle but you get a dresser at the end. I don't know how people are so stressed by it because I love it so much.

My husband CAN'T stand the store itself,but I have a chronic illness and can't walk around the place or be out that long. The last time he called me as he rage-quit shopping there for the day to return the next day because some guy was spinning his kid around in a cart in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush and the cart literally hit him.

Also, we re-did our entire living & dining room and tons of it is from IKEA. (But FUCK that IKEA couch though. That thing sucked.)
posted by Crystalinne at 2:56 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Hey, is this the place we post our favourites? Here's my 50-hole shoe and boot storage solution!
posted by mgrrl at 3:07 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Here's my IKEA tip: never skip the children's section. I've found more than one odd piece of furniture there that was just the thing I needed. For instance, I used a little play shelf with plastic drawers to hold a computer, a subwoofer and a bunch of cables and random junk that go with a digital piano. Never saw anything like it in the rest of the store.
posted by lagomorphius at 6:48 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I went to our nearest IKEA (2 hours away in Pittsburgh! Blech! I've vowed my vote to the mayoral candidate who can bring Cleveland an IKEA) yesterday and had at least 5 friends say "IKEA?! ON A SATURDAY?! ARE YOU INSANE?" but lemme tell you, I've been to the Brooklyn IKEA on a Sunday with two children under five, I am not afraid.

Although I did teach one of them the "Danny isn't here right now" bit from The Shining. His mom LOVES ME.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:35 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


IKEA?! ON A SATURDAY?! ARE YOU INSANE?

The counterpoint to that is that the missus and I learned a few years back that IKEA is utterly empty on Hallowe'en. Our remote home never gets trick-or-treaters so we sometimes go out to run errands that night. Three or four years back we wound up at the IKEA and with no exaggeration, there could not have been more than a dozen customers in the entire store. A repeat trip last year showed the same ghost town. If you need peace and quiet to decide between a HOSTVADT and an ARBAAL, 31 October is your time.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:48 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


The counterpoint to that is that the missus and I learned a few years back that IKEA is utterly empty on Hallowe'en.

Believe it or not, so is Harry Potter World, or whatever it's called, in Orlando.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:27 AM on February 5


I've never understood the whole thing about IKEA trips leading to nervous breakdowns or ending relationships, and I hate shopping. Of course, when my wife and I go we have a list and we grab the things on the list (and little to nothing else) and get out as fast as we can. It would probably be a different story if we just wandered around aimlessly trying to decide what we wanted.

I've seen this happen more than once - well, not breakdowns or breaking up, but more than one couple I know has brought up "IKEA TRIPS!!!!!" in such a way that it's clearly a long-running bone of contention between the two.

There seem to be two basic issues at play: the first is that for some people no matter how much they plan and measure and pore through the catalog and/or the website, once they're actually in the store looking at all those neat, integrated, well-designed display areas, they start to basically re-think their entire decorating plan and become overwhelmed with indecision.

The second (more common) issue is that there are Focused Shoppers (like you & your wife - know what you want, go directly to where it is, grab it & go), and then there are Grazers, who like to casually wander through all the isles looking at everything and leaving lots of mental room and time for figuring out what they want while they're there. If a Focused is partnered with a Grazer there's some real potential for conflict.

You can, of course, do either at IKEA (or anywhere else), but the whole IKEA setup tends to encourage both types of shoppers to assume that their preferred method is how the day is going to go. The Focused Shopper knows that a bunch of time has been spent online/in the catalog finding specific pieces and noting their cost and FS knows that there's a huge warehouse where they just grab the units from their proper bins and barring some sort of sudden realization that something they want is out of stock or much flimsier or uglier IRL or something, the FS figures the whole thing has been set up perfectly for a quick trip. But the Grazer figures that the whole reason there's a huge big store with all these cool display areas and example rooms is so the Grazer can get ideas and inspiration and figure out if their existing throw pillows will work or if maybe they need new ones, so if you don't carefully wander through the entire store you're missing the entire point of going to IKEA in the first place. (This has in fact happened to me, although with a platonic friend rather than a romantic partner, and it didn't help that the Grazer I was with was . . . . optimistic . . . about how much time was going to be spent Grazing.)

Both parties are entirely correct about how IKEA is set up, but without a pre-discussed clear determination of the day's plan they'll wind up mad and frustrated with each other as the Focused Shopper is driven mad by (what they consider) the glacial pace and the Grazer feels like the FS is virtually shoving them in the back to get them to hurry the hell up.

And so ten years later they get all "IKEA TRIP!!!!" at each other. . . . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 10:39 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


I think that's astute, soundguy99, although those types don't have to be that rigid. My bf and I have been to IKEA together many times and never get into arguments, because we're both capable of both kinds of shopping and we make it clear to each other which we're there for. I'm typically a Focused Shopper, but I can have a lot of fun browsing at IKEA if that's what I'm mentally prepared for. So it does need to be explicitly decided, because one person hoping to get in and out in 45 minutes and the other wanting to mill around for 3 hours can create conflict no matter what kind of errand/shopping trip it is.
posted by misskaz at 7:49 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Ikea's pretty cool. Got some nice loot on my last trip. Gotta watch out for those LACKs though! They seem harmless but are dangerous in large numbers.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:37 PM on February 7


Some nice meta-gaming there soundguy99, but to be honest if you min-max your Focussed Shopper class the whole thing just gets boring. It's just, in, bang out the quests, beat the checkout queue boss, done. If you're not exploring a darkened store-room out of curiosity, how are you ever going to encounter a Legendary EXPEDIT? Some of the most exciting experiences my character has had were when we ventured "off-piste".
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:48 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


When I first moved into the apartment I'm in now, I had to get a bed (prior to this I had a sleeping loft and when I moved here I didn't). I was recovering from a thrown-out back, and I bribed a friend to come help me put it together; he showed up and insisted on doing the whole thing himself "because you hurt your back". He kept up a running stream-of consciousness commentary as he worked, and you could tell whether he was getting frustrated or not based on his spoken opinions about Sweden at the time ("What the - how do I put this screw in? Sweden SUCKS!.....oh, wait, it goes like this. Heh, just like that. Sweden's awesome!")

That bed finally has been relegated to the curb becuase it broke (and also because the slats had been prone to dislodging during unusually vigurous activity in bed, a trait that once or twice resulted in me and whatever swain I was with falling straight through to the floor). ah memories.

--

As for kids and Ikea, I saw one of the sweetest things ever a couple years ago. I was looking for Christmas presents for all the kidlets in my family (my cousins all have had kids and so holidays are awash with little ones), and I was wandering around and around in the toy section trying to decide. While I was there, a family with about five kids were also browsing, and all the boys discovered a bin full of snake plushies, and gigglingly each grabbed one and draped them around their necks like pythons, and every now and then I would see a pair of them chasing each other pretending to make the snakes attack each other.

Then after several minutes their mom rounded them all up, saying they had to go; she made them put all the snakes back. And they did, gigglingly patting the snakes on the head and telling them "bye, hope you find a good family!" or some such. They started down the stairs; I'd finally made up my mind what to get and I was heading down a bit behind them.

And so I got to hear a bit of conversation between two of those kids, about seven and eight, who were lagging behind. "Hey," one said. "Know what we could do?"

"What?"

"When we're grown up and have our own money, maybe we can come back and get those snakes."

"....Hey, yeah, let's do that!"

And they both grinned and skipped ahead to join their mother and I just stared after them melting into a happy puddle from the cute.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


it must be difficult to be in various industries in sweden when he comes into your place of business. like how could you resist giving him all the individual ingredients of the full meal he just ordered in your restaurant, putting down kitchen tools instead of silverware, and then just cackling madly.

Why kitchen tools?

Just the one single allen key. If he needs kitchen tools he can make a special return trip to the store to get kitchen tools.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:14 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


So Grazer vs Focused is the Guess vs Ask of IKEA? Or can we boost the framework for shopping as a whole?
posted by infini at 8:22 AM on February 8




I'm honestly psyched that IKEA's starting to sell bicycles and plan to stop by soon to look at them (and especially the trailer, that thing looks great for the price.)

The more cheap, widely available bikes set up to be useful we've got in the world, the better off we'll all be.
posted by asperity at 8:44 AM on February 8


So Grazer vs Focused is the Guess vs Ask of IKEA? Or can we boost the framework for shopping as a whole?

Oh, I think it applies to shopping as a whole - also, I know I didn't come up with the concept, and maybe not even the terminology.

But at least in the US I think IKEA (probably inadvertently) tends to exacerbate the conflict, because they have intentionally limited the number of stores (my closest IKEA is 2 hours away) and what they're willing to sell online, so shopping there is a bit of an Event. "Focused" vs "Grazer" doesn't have quite the same weight if we're talking about shopping at Target or something where there are half a dozen stores within 10 miles or I can buy everything they have in the stores and more online and get it in 2 days.

Thus the trope about shopping @ IKEA destroying relationships.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:29 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'm honestly psyched that IKEA's starting to sell bicycles and plan to stop by soon to look at them (and especially the trailer, that thing looks great for the price.)

Whoah, I've been looking for a decent affordable bike cargo trailer! That one look good.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:47 AM on February 8


That is a pretty nice-looking trailer, for sure. And the bike doesn't look half bad, either. Disc brakes and stock fenders!
posted by tobascodagama at 10:58 AM on February 8


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