Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Size Matters...But What is TOO BIG?

We’ve all done it—you follow the road signs, go through the entrance, park where the attendants tell you, shuffle along the rope labyrinth, note the anticipation on all the faces, grab a map when it’s offered to you, and finally…FINALLY… it’s your turn to enter. Disney World? Six Flags? Nope…I’m talking about IKEA.

There was more hype about IKEA coming to our area, than when gold was found in “them thar hills.” I have to admit, I knew very little about IKEA, other than people saying they sure wish we had one. I was curious. I figured the grand opening might be kind of crowded, so I decided to wait a few weeks.

“Let’s go to IKEA today!” It was a Sunday afternoon. As we were driving on the highway, I caught a glimpse of something blue off to the west. Something big...very big...and very blue. Not what I would call a soothing blue. I would describe it as an electric blue, the shade of blue that jangles your nerves and makes your fillings hurt. As we got closer and I could see the whole structure, I was horrified. It was a massive, blue box. No attempt whatsoever had been made to make it attractive or blend in with it’s surroundings. It was my first indication that IKEA is all about saving you money, even if it means creating blight on the landscape.

After winding our way through a path of cones, we were finally led to a parking garage which makes up the belly of the big, blue beast. We parked the car, and headed to the area marked entrance. Sorry, you cannot enter here. That would be way too easy. We’d prefer you walked halfway around the outside of the building, winding up in this exact same spot, and then you can enter. Fine, I thought, we’ll play your little game of Candyland.

Up the escalator, and through the doors, at last we had arrived. I knew this was not a “small world, after all” if we needed a map, so I gladly accepted one. Now, it’s our usual shopping tactic to stop just inside the entrance to a store and come up with a plan of where we want to go. Turns out if you stop in an IKEA, the entire store will collapse. It’s designed to keep you moving. People ahead of us were grabbing cloth shopping bags, which really confused me because I thought this was a furniture store.

The first (and only) item that caught my eye as we were herded like cattle, following the big arrows on the floor, was a drafting table with a price tag of $159. I had to admit that was a pretty fantastic price. Especially since it had a light box built into the table. We knew it was a risky move, but we stepped out of the herd. Upon closer examination, we discovered the price did not include legs. And, it did not include lighting for the light box. Who would buy a table without legs?  Or a light box without a light? I imagined I heard snickering, all the way from Sweden.

I knew we were not going to buy anything, simply because we had tired of being in line and we really wanted to skip that last line at the registers. As we gladly scooted around that whole area, we found ourselves in the food section. A food section...in a furniture store...curiouser and curiouser. “Would you like a meatball?” I was asked. No, I just want to go home.

Fun fact: IKEA was created by a seventeen year old boy. The first two letters are his initials. Sounds egotistical to me. Well, this is Elaine of Elaine’s Wonderful World signing off.