Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ikea Rocks

Cool, maybe, but is it comfortable?

So. Vegetable Assassin threw down the gauntlet. Ikea rocks, she said; nothing you can say will change my mind.

I love a challenge.

Well, Vege, I know Ikea rocks. I've tried beer mats, rolled up wads of paper, my foot, wedges, beer cans, dead cats, but it's no good. In fact everything I ever bought from them rocked, apart from the OOMSKORTEN rocking chair for £19.99, which just wobbles. But that's not the point.

The key thing is the brain-numbing Ikea shopping experience.

They opened a new store in Southampton recently. It's been a while, but naturally we head down with the hordes. It's huge! We park up and shuffle in, wide-eyed. It takes a while to get our bearings. Everything is strange, and foreign. We squint at the labels.

Who names this stuff? Is that sofa really called EKTORP? Surely that's a medical condition. There's a shelf called BODO. Wasn't he a hobbit? Do I want a light called RUTBO1? A bookcase called BILLY2? DO I want to sit on a POANG? Are they messing with us?

Plus what's with the food? We try a hot dog. It's actual dog, on stale bread. We try Ikea coke which tastes like brake fluid. The french fries have apparently been cooked in France. Sometime last year. I don't even want to think about the provenance of the meatballs.

But perhaps there's an exotic ingredient in the hot dog, because we're being won over. They've got whole houses in there! 20m2 living rooms! Supercool eco-kitchens! Dining rooms bristling with awesome fold-away cleverness! Everything's in primary colours and metric measurements. It's cool, it's chic, it's tomorrow3.

We get carried away. We grab our little Ikea pencil and Ikea list and start to write down part numbers. It's easy! Just pick 'em up on the way out. First though, you must descend through the labyrinthine martketplace, having traded your little yellow bag for a shopping trolley the size of a small car. My advice? Keep your head down and grit your teeth. Do we need a set of eight RAMBO cheese graters? No. Or 100 TWIGLET candles. Or a clever SPILPOO toilet paper dispenser. Or ELEKTROKUT plastic bedside lamps.

At last, time to pick up the big stuff. And now the day falls apart. If you want to buy a Billy bookcase, it's on aisle 34, section 7. Apart from the shelves which are on aisle 92, section 16. The feet? Aisle 4, section 22. Hang on; these are black. We wanted oak. Start again. It's out of stock. Black then? If we must.

It takes hours.

And you're almost guaranteed to get it wrong.

Don't bother asking for help. If you do, you encounter the mysterious dichotomy between Ikea the company (efficient, clever, fresh and bright) and Ikea the employee (officious, stupid, stale and dull). The answer to every question is 'If it ain't on the shelf, we ain't got none', which is a bit strange when you're asking where the toilets are.

What's more, it's not that cheap. Look around the checkouts when you finally get to them; everyone is staring wide-eyed at their receipts. Surely the KLAPTORP wasn't that much? No it wasn't, but those GOTCHA cushions mount up. Sly bastards. And then they charge you extra for using a credit card. And parking. And bags.

The final insult; you get home and it's in pieces! I thought the boxes were a bit small. Hours of screwing later (ooh-err missus) and you have half a sofa-bed and a three-legged bookcase. In blue. And boy, does it rock.

1 - Yes. We buy four
2 - And a whole wallful of these
2 - This isn't a footnote, it means 'square meters'. Come on, shape up.
3 - It's chipboard, but nobody's looking too closely.

And the answer to the crossword clue in the last post was 'spent a penny'. Bumper pack of Twiglets to anyone who can tell me why.


  1. Seriously the maze that is IKEA stops me from going. Especially if I have my young children with me. You could lose them in there.

    On second thought...

  2. It's just not right that when you say EKTORP, I know exactly what that couch looks like without even consulting the catalogue. And don't even get me started on how screwed you are if you lose that little one-of-a-kind wrench thingy and your wobbly furniture needs a "tune-up". IKEA = LOVE/HATE. - G

  3. Hot damn, you are fussy with a capital FU. :)

    Firstly, the food there is about two things; meatballs and tart cakes. You don't order HOT DOGS unless you're insane. But this is you we're talking about so you know. Point qualified.

    Also, I once had a unit called SLAG which caused much hilarity. The names are part of the EXPERIENCE as is finding those tiny pencils and paper measuring tapes in your pockets for weeks after.

    I don't dig the Ektorp. I like me the big old retro Tylosand.

    Things I admit I hate about Ikea: KIDS EVERYWHERE MAKING NOISE. What sort of in bred individual takes little kids to Ikea? It's annoying. They just get in the way and they're bored and squally and loud.

    Also, I am an expert at assembling Ikea furniture. I'd rather assemble it myself and pay a hundred bucks less for it than it come ready built and expensive.

    There, that showed you.

  4. i've been there once and never had the urge to go back. not sure why. maybe you nailed it here.

  5. What is a twiglet??
    And this just proves to me that I AM the only person in the WORLD to have never been to IKEA.

  6. Here in Scandinavia it is very fashionable to hate IKEA these days. We say we are soooo bored with them and then, we buy all our furniture (not to talk about all the wonderful things they have to set the table) from them. :)
    I like IKEA, with a few exceptions their stuff is good.

  7. this cracked me up, we bought a dresser there years ago and my whole family almost had a meltdown over putting it together. misery.

  8. Actually the IKEA names aren't too bad when you consider that some people proudly display their latest SMEG kitchen appliances.

    Nasty authors = pen and pen inside anagram of nasty. "weed" as in had a piss (spent a penny). Can I have the twiglets please?

  9. At least, on the bright side, there isn't another shop where you can ask a shop assistant 'Can I have a lot at your ARSS?' or 'I'd like to return my PINIS please, because I need the next size up'.

  10. IKEA...hate the place but must confess to having a couple of Billies and Poangs in my home.

    Assembling them almost ended in divorce...or a husband with a Billy shelf nailed to leg!

  11. I have been to Ikea once since I got here. Same experience as in the UK from head to toe. I'm in no rush to go back.

  12. Uber!!! I just choked on my apple slice. I needed a laugh today and this was just the ticket.
    How I wish I could write funny; you are charmed!

  13. all right I read it again and laughed some more.

  14. I love wandering around and dreaming about getting the stuff. I am NO good at assembling so I have to pay extra to have the stuff delivered!

  15. Ikea----you either love it or you hate it. My mother (89) blows her away! She's like, "What kind of store IS this???"

  16. Makes my blood boil every time I go in. I'm sure they should have lawyers at the aisles for the couples who've decided to divorce halfway round.

  17. Haha Ubergrump, good post! I have to disagree slightly with regards to Ikea. I like their storage boxes (although putting them together is a b*tch). But their furniture sucks. Buy a light and you can only buy their light bulbs- other brands don't fit! Same goes for duvets and duvet covers. They're weird sizes! What is up with that?!

    The only good thing about Ikea really is their meatballs. And i'm not being dirty... :)

  18. At least they are consistant they whole world over. The experience here in Atlanta is exactly the same.

  19. You can't just go straight to soft furnishings, that's what I don't like about Ikea.

    Their stuff is okay and they usually have really good rollmops in jars. What I don't like is the way going to Ikea isn't like going to a normal shop. Oh no. It's like going to a museum where you see all these weird modern art exhibits. But you don't get to choose what you see (unless you've been there before and know the shortcuts), instead you have to shuffle past every exhibit.

  20. You nailed the description. We wander around hoping to discover some fiendishly clever, stylish, bargain-priced "design solutions," but it never really turns out that way, and the "fun" fades quickly.

  21. When I got taken to an Ikea I got bored and filled out a complaint form. I forget what I said, but they sent me a key chain. That's the only thing I've ever owned from Ikea.

    I will admit, it really was a good keychain.

  22. This is a great post and so true. But what's a twiglet candle? Are those edible?

  23. The great thing about Ikea is that if you can't find the toilets you can just head down to the bathroom section and take your pick.

  24. Well observed. I must disagree about the staff though. Years ago mam bought me a candle holder in the shape of a dutch girl and I so wanted the dutch boy to go with it - out of stock. But months later we saw it on display and asked to buy it, to be told no as it was a display item but on explaining about my dutch girl, the manager actually gave it to me free of charge. Hows that for customer service?

  25. I don't go to IKEA because I never trust a store run by a country that can't PICK A SIDE.

    Either your with us or against us. I sure as hell ain't buying a bookcase from you until you figure that shit out.

  26. All true
    But I was there this afternoon and bought two Tobias chairs which are lovely.
    Ikea once won a prize for the way they directed people round the big stores. The month after they changed it and now everyone gets lost - even the staff

  27. I went today and had a hot dog (that's 45p) whilst waiting for someone who gave a shit sort out why there were no black Malm single beds when stock showed 9. They are going to deliver one free tomorrow. I had the hot dog cos it was 45p, life's too short and I'm too cheap. I go at 10 am mid week, it's empty and everyone is cool, no traffic. 99p for 6 part english breakfast with free tea. Don't grump my store.

  28. Hey 'Grumpy! I love browsing at IKEA, but hate everything else. Parking, trolleys, the restaurant, the warehouse, queuing to pay, actually paying, home delivery, and (once again) the car park. Bah! Indigo

  29. Can't say I have ever been to IKEA! Thanks for saving me the trip.

  30. We got it down to a fine art - enter via the exit, straight into the warehouse, find the wardrobe we want, go out the way we came in.

  31. MoomaK ~ I always wondered why there are so many kids wandering around. Now I know!

    Georgina ~ Where do those wrenches go? We should have thousands of 'em. But I can't find one

    Vege ~ Ow! Ow! OK, stop it, you win

    Sarah ~ Good thinking

    MiMi ~ I'll have to do a Twiglet post, won't I?

    RA ~ Ah ha! Fascinating. Even struggling on the ole' home turf

    Julie ~ A whole dresser? Brave

    Raj ~ WINNER! Way to go mate

  32. Matt ~ 'next size up' :)

    Nat ~ Is Billies the plural of Billy? Or is it Billys? Stupid bloody Ikea names

    Matthew ~ Global misery eh?

    JenJen ~ What do you mean 'how you wish you could write funny?' I learnt the art from you

    Amy ~ That's smart. Very smart.

    JP ~ I already like your Mum. She sounds top banana

    Mme D ~ Good idea! And flat-pack counsellors.

    Lou ~ Their storage boxes ? Eight quid for a cardboard box you have to make yourself? I don't get it

    was3 ~ Ha! I don;t think there was an Ikea when we were there. They're spreading like a plague

    Richard ~ I never tried a Rollmop. They always look to me like fish that have curled up due to neglect

  33. Blissed-OG ~ Doesn't it? The return visit is even worse

    tattytiara ~ Well, strike a light. I must try that.

    Robyn ~ Nope! They're much more fun than that

    mo ~ Ahem. I think we might have done that by mistake

    PW ~ Good heavens. Well, I stand corrected

    Moooooooog ~ Yeah! And the same goes for Spanish wine. And Swiss chocolate.

    KAZ ~ Tobias? Sounds sort of 70s. I like it

  34. Mart ~ OK! Top tip. I'll try it and report back

    Indigo ~ You summed it up exactly. Nails down a blackboard

    Christie ~ Happy to oblige. You will though. It gets to everyone at some point

    pixie ~ Without paying? Respect

  35. I just love Ikea! The one that we have here has a cinema that plays cartoons and a play area so you can leave the kiddies while you follow the yellow lines around the maze with your little pencil and pad, the staff are helpful, and even remind you if you have left any kiddies behind, there are two places you can get something to sustain you on your mammoth trek around the mammoth store...and , besides all these things that you can't even pronounce, never mind spell. I still have my beloved Billy Bookcases!
    At least I could pronounce that!

  36. Funny post - made funnier by the fact I went to Ikea this week. Love your style Uber.
    Check out my latest post - I finally bedded a girl. Sort of.

  37. I daren't enter Ikea, firstly the kids - and then I can't get out - never stopped long enough to try the fame meatballs.

  38. other people's kids - I don't have any (that I know about)

  39. Don't give Raj the twiglet - wasn't he there when we did that clue...

  40. Ps Can't sleep. Call you tomorrow evening.

  41. mighty beautiful livvy the livvya livster19 February 2010 at 11:30

    bet i can do a better pose then her right every one oh please say yes and i bet you will