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Human Pachinko

July 22nd, 2017

Disturbing Visit to IKEA

What an experience I had today. I shopped at IKEA for the very first time. It was the most dehumanizing shopping experience I have ever had.

Where do I start?

First of all, there is one cramped entrance to the huge parking garage (you have to use their garage), and in order to get in from the north, you have to make a U-turn. That’s stupid.

After that, you find yourself in a poorly marked garage which probably contains 8 acres of space. I parked on the ground floor, figuring that was where the store entrance was. Because most store owners want to make it EASY to get into their stores.

I walked up to the entrance, grabbing a cart along the way, and it turned out to be the entrance to a bank of three elevators and some escalators. The store was not on the ground floor. You’re supposed to get into an elevator…with your huge shopping cart. I am not making that up.

I got into an elevator and went up a floor. I got out. No store. Okay. I waited for another elevator. They don’t have big signs telling you where to go. You have to guess.

Went up another floor. Got out. Went to something that looked like an entrance. It turned out it was the entrance to some kind of indoor playground for kids. Who takes their kids to IKEA to play? Lunatics, I guess.

I stopped a salesperson. I said, “How do you get INTO this place?” She told me to get on the elevator and go up one more floor.

On the next floor, I found a store. I pushed my cart (with one wheel that kept trying to turn) into the entrance. I found myself confronted with one department of the store, from which there was no escape that didn’t involve going forward.

You won’t believe this unless you’ve seen it, but IKEA forces you to go through the entire store in order to get your product. It’s a one-dimensional store. It’s not like Target, where you can always move in one of two directions. It’s like being trapped in the intestines of a giant beast. You go in one end, and you visit every twist and turn until you come out the other. There are a few minor deviations, but that’s the story.

I went through the entire floor, held up by endless people who clogged the narrow aisles and barely moved, and when I got to the end, I had not seen sheets. That’s what I wanted to buy. I asked another salesperson, and she said I was on the wrong floor.

Seriously. They have enough room to put the whole store on one floor, but they used it to divide the parking garage into levels. Is that stupid, or am I?

The person who told me to go up one floor was wrong. Somewhere on the playground floor, there was a store which was somehow hidden.

I had been at IKEA for quite some time by then, but I was determined to get my sheets, so I persevered.

I got to the next floor, and I was once again confronted by the constricted concrete entrails of IKEA. Surely this is the most authoritarian store in America. I walked past aisle after aisle of Chinese garbage. After maybe ten minutes, I got to the sheet area. I found my sheets and hightailed it for the exit. Which I could not see. When you’re in the bowels of IKEA, you can’t see the checkout stations. It’s like a DVD you can’t fast-forward.

I got the one of the slow registers, and I asked the guy for a bag for my sheets. He offered me a “green bag” (which was blue) for a dollar. Are you kidding me? Do I need a reusable bag cluttering up my house when I’m trying to move? I turned it down. I made the smart move. I thought.

Got out of the checkout line, and I found myself in an non-air-conditioned room (in Miami in July) with three big elevators and maybe fifty people with carts trying to jam themselves in. I could not believe it. I had four sets of sheets and two sets of pillowcases, and I knew I couldn’t carry them on the escalator. Now I knew what the bag was for. It was a fee for avoiding the elevators.

Miraculously, I made it into an elevator during the first tide, and I got off at P1, which, I figured was the first floor of the parking garage. I looked around for my car, and then I noticed there were tree tops visible over the low walls of the garage. I was not on the ground floor. I guess in Sweden, they number floors downward, starting on random levels.

Back to the elevator bank, which took forever.

Finally got out on the correct floor. Couldn’t find my car. Okay, that was my fault. But by this point, more frustration was the last thing I needed.

Back to the elevator bank. Found the car. Drove home.

I have never had a store make me feel more insulted or unimportant, not to mention claustrophobic. You can’t walk where you want. You can’t have a bag. You’re trapped like an ant in an ant farm. And what about fire codes? If that place burns, everyone in it will die, because you can’t see the exits. You could be a hundred feet from an exit and have to make three turns to find it.

What a disgusting store. I will never go back. If I like the sheets, next time, I’ll order them online.

The merchandise is horrible. I’m sure some of it is fine, but I saw display after display of aggressively inoffensive disposable sawdust and melamine furniture. Who buys this crap? You have to be out of your mind. You spend hundreds of dollars buying a sawdust living room, and then a month later, it has a street value of $75. No one wants used sawdust furniture.

Imagine how cluttered our landfills must be, with all the sawdust and melamine furniture we buy. And the funny part about that is that IKEA preys on the weak-minded by claiming to be green and friendly and gay. How can disposable furniture be green? How can furniture made in dirty backward countries that have a license to kill under the Paris Climate Accord be green?

I felt like a character in a dystopian film like Soylent Green or Logan’s Run. I feel icky inside, thinking about it. My visit made me think of Holocaust victims being herded and sorted on arriving at a death camp. I’m not trying to be funny, either. That’s exactly what I thought of.

I hope the sheets work out, but I will never set foot in that store again, even if I can find the way in.

5 Responses to “Human Pachinko”

  1. Steve_in_CA Says:

    IKEA is awful the first time. But once you know the layout and cut throughs you can get anywhere pretty quickly. Their solid wood furniture is very good. I am not crazy about the sawdust stuff, but have some, because: wife. The saving grace is it is cheap enough to furnish a college apartment and dispose of it in 4 years.
    I have grandkids, so I think their solid wood toys are great.

  2. Terrapod Says:

    How do you feel about Swedish shopping Steve? Don’t hold back now .

    To go to Ikea you have to have a different mindset, one of an Indian safari mahout, and also need to plan your attack by using their floor plan map (you did know that I hope).

    Every blessed one seems to use a different floor plan, so any experience at one store does not transfer to the other beyond knowing that the store is up in the air and the checkouts are usually (not always apparently) on the ground floor, except in your case, where it appears checkouts are one floor up in the air as well.

    I do agree with your take on the socialist mindset of management and store flunkies/minders – run people through the gauntlet and hope they buy more stuff before exiting the sausage grinder.

    The only things I really like are their stainless steel pans, some of the preserves of Swedish origin (check, some are Swedish made in Poland) and some of their book shelving (I have a LOT of books and the “Billy” series is good enough), everything else, pass. The names they select for products are also something of a joke.

    Vaya con dios (yeah, I know, you are moving away from that, but I had to show off).

  3. Stephen McAteer Says:

    Ikea shop layouts are a nightmare. I avoid going to the physical shop for that reason and buy online from them. Their office chairs & desks (Adjustable height, reasonable prices) are good. Bookcases are generally good too, as Terrapod says.

  4. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    I had friends who enjoyed going to the IKEA in Chicago when visiting their daughter.
    They are a “destination” store, like Cabela’s.
    I had your same experience when they built a local store near Detroit.
    While in it, like you, I wondered how the FD gave them an occupancy permit.
    And the made up “swedish” names make me think of a Muppet character.
    I do not see the appeal.
    Oh. Four swivel caster dhopping carts. Stupid.

  5. Steve H. Says:

    It’s hard to think of a business that insults and controls its customers more.

    Well…guess I forgot the naked airport scanners.

    I didn’t know IKEA had furniture with non-ground wood in it.