Posted tagged ‘shopping’

The Only New Yorker Who Hates IKEA

June 19, 2008

There are not many firsts left to be had in New York City, but yesterday marked what seemed to be a pretty big one. New Yorkers and Brooklynites began lining up at five on Monday morning, prepared to camp out with their tents and sleeping bags for the next 48 hours. They weren’t waiting for tickets to Britney’s post psychosis concert tour or for one of those riot inducing “I’m not a plastic bag” totes. They were waiting for a store to open.

In their defense, IKEA’s PR stunt masters advertised free couches worth $399 to the first 35 people in line and there were also free Swedish Meatballs to celebrate the opening of the first New York IKEA. But you would think it would take much more than a couch to get someone to play homeless on the streets of Brooklyn for two days straight. And did they know they still have to put the couch together themselves?


IKEA is a brand that twenty and thirty-something urbanites seem to drool over. If your town has an IKEA and a Trader Joes you know it is a trendy place to live. If it has its own section on Craigslist and even its own fringe newspaper, you’ve made it. I spent three years living in New York, listening to stories about this ultra cheap Swedish furniture store, but did not get to actually experience it until last year. After wandering through the store (which is the size of a small village) picking out a desk, dresser, and bed that would both go together and fit in my room, I brought the name of my selections over to the bored looking IKEA employee who informed me, one by one, that each of my carefully selected, awkwardly named pieces were sold out.

Once I found a set that I could bring home the same day (who cares if it was made for twelve-year old girls!) I weaved my way through bathroom textiles and $6 floor lamps before arriving in the warehouse where I had to figure out how to lift the long flat boxes of wood that would soon become my furniture. I was quickly discovering why IKEA was so cheap: they make you do all the work. They don’t have those big machines to get your Klippan Loveseat—which is somehow condensed into a 3” thick box–off the top shelf. You have to do it yourself, and then lug it around with you while you search the endless isles for your Dalselv bed and Malm dresser.

ikea dresser

And that’s the easy part. Once you get the boxes home, don’t expect to actually have a bed to sleep on for a couple more days. Because what you just got a killer deal on is actually planks of wood with pre-cut holes in them. You thought you got a bed for $200 but you were wrong. You got boards painted white and a little picture book of how to turn these sliced up trees into furniture.

I don’t think this would fly in any other industry but somehow IKEA gets away with it.  My dad is a homebuilder, and if he sold his customers pre-cut wooden boards, some loose tiles for the roof, and some screws, and handed them a little booklet that illustrated–with pictures, no words–how to put the house together, he would be able to give them the “house” for much less too. He could probably cut the price in half! But his customers would most likely be crushed in their sleep by the materials he sold them.

My couch lasted three months before the back started caving in. Now whenever someone leans too hard on the back of my couch (you know, like sitting) I have to pull it out from the wall and push the back end back up. My dresser (pictured above) has six drawers and five are still attached and three are still fully attached on both sides. It constantly looks like a robbery just took place in my room even if it is otherwise completely neat.

Unfortunately, for many New Yorkers who do not want to invest too much into their apartments, IKEA looks like the best option. There are two Kmarts in the city but they have a sparse selection of furnishings and they haven’t gotten the trendy thing down like IKEA has. And New Yorkers still have to survive with out the cheap and chic Target. Even though my $700 worth of forest materials turned furniture have less function and absolutely no resale value, I can see why it is so tempting to just go back and buy more low quality furnishings there. I would just stay away from anything that has potential to kill you while in use, like bunk beds.