When people who live in normal homes need furniture, they spend a leisurely afternoon in quiet showrooms calmly lounging on sofas, bouncing on mattresses and carefully analyzing swatches for that perfect arm chair. When the city dwellers who lack closets, square footage and walls they can put holes into need furniture, they hop aboard trains and busses for the chaotic pilgrimage to IKEA.
I never thought the day would come when adorable Asian babies suddenly stopped being cute. Go to IKEA on a Sunday and you’ll see what I mean.
This was our mission this past weekend, one week before getting the keys to our new place (pictures to come). We put it off Saturday, determined to sleep in. We decided to make the journey Sunday, a day we also slept in — by accident.
Now, I’m a Type A personality in every sense, so I had made a very detailed list before heading out, complete with color choices and a marked-up floor plan of our new place so I could avoid impulse purchases that wouldn’t fit. As this was my first journey to the warehouse store, I had no idea what my list-loving brain was in for.
Ikea is daunting enough, but when all the signs are in a language you can’t read and you’re surrounded by screaming children after a two-hour commute, you find yourself on the express train to Breakdownsville.
After a talking off the ledge from Craig and a team of helpful associates, we settled on some amazing furniture to outfit our new place and provide some much needed extra storage. Our only impulse purchases were two closet organizers Craig picked out so I could fit even more clothes. He’s a keeper.
Here are my tips for surviving IKEA:
- If you don’t know what you want, avoid peak hours. Arriving at 3:30 pm ended up being a blessing by the time we needed to check out. Z-o-o.
- Eat beforehand. Our adventure took six hours from start to finish. Those ¥100 hot dogs and frozen yogurt were the only way I survived.
- Dress comfortably. Much of the reason IKEA’s prices are so good is the customer handles almost everything. They give you handy organizers to write down the item name, number, price and warehouse location and then you retrieve most items on your own. Or, bring muscle.
- Grab a salesperson. They’re at the information booths marked with an “i” and can tell you where everything is, so you can avoid winding through the maze of model rooms (which drove me up a wall). You’ll need them anyway to put together an order for you for any large furniture not in the self serve section.
- Delivery is available . . . just no more than 20 pieces. We found this out after purchasing more than 30 pieces, meaning we had to schlep them all back on the train with us. This isn’t free — the starting rate was ¥5,900. But check for promotions. We scored a coupon for half off delivery.
- You can opt for assembly if you’re not particularly handy or heavy on patience. Of course, this also will cost you a ¥5,000 flat rate for the appointment + 20 percent of the cost of each item. This is handled by a third party who contacts you to schedule a time. They called us the next day. We chose to have just our bed assembled. Beer and wine will get us through the rest of it. Kanpai!
Here are some of the great pieces we picked:
While I love what we bought, it’s going to take a lot to get me to one of these places again. At one point, I decided this place was what hell must be like. Maybe adding cocktails to the hot dog stand would help all guests, the parents and childless alike, to navigate the countless displays and 40+ aisles of merchandise with a little less stress? They’d certainly be more willing to buy the bright green artificial plants or wooden hangers by the checkout.
Now for the fun part — putting our stuff together. Pray for us.