The Ikea experience

The first two times we went to Ikea, we had no intention of buying anything. We heard good things from people who had previously shopped there and wanted to find out for ourselves if their products are as well-designed and reasonably priced as they are being made out to be. The store was huge, with the first floor dedicated to the showroom and the level below it acting as a “market”. This market section resembles a grocery store with racks and shelves stacked high with merchandise while shoppers walk around with a trolley to put their intended purchases in. All the smaller items could be found in this area while the bigger items are stored in the warehouse at the back of the store.

The idea is for people to create their customised list based on the displays in the showroom, find out the location of the item from the tag hanging from it, pick the item up at the specified location, put it in the shopping cart and pay for it. It’s very Do-It-Yourself (DIY), with the staff only offering assistance on product information, what options are available and performing stock availability checks. The store is also peppered with posters claiming that because most of their furniture are stored in flat boxes, you could even transport them home yourself. How’s that for a healthy dose of self-sufficiency?

We went home that first time with a product catalogue clutched in our hands. Wow, look at these amazing products and at that prize, it’s a steal! We were after some bookcases and a TV unit and went back a second time to look at these items and liked what we saw. However, since we neglected to take measurements of our living space, we couldn’t really decide how many bookcases we wanted and if the TV unit we liked would even fit. We didn’t go home empty-handed though as we bought a set of light globes for our floor lamps and a desk lamp for the kitchen.

A week passed. By this time, we had made measurements and plans as to how we want to decorate our rumpus room and made a list of what we wanted to buy. The list consisted of 3 large bookcases, 4 CD towers, 1 corner bookcase, 1 storage combination (TV unit), 3-drawer chest for the wardrobe, a twin-set rubbish bin combination with a slide-out attachment. The sum was a good chunk of money but considering the amount of furniture we are after, it is only a pittance compared to what we’d pay if we get it from another store.

With that in mind, we went back to Ikea last Saturday, already dreaming of our new purchases all set up in our living room. We got there at around 2 PM, had a snack (I wanted to make sure that hubby has the energy to walk around the store since our previous visits left him hungry and miserable) and trooped back to the store. We soon found out that although most of what we wanted were available in-store, some items are out of stock. The corner bookcase was sold out, same with the TV bench that goes with the entertainment unit, ditto with the CD towers and so was the slide-out accessory for the rubbish bins. We debated for some time if we want to consider another model that is in stock but finally decided against it.

We also decided to have the items delivered and thought that we could skip the pick-it-up-yourself step and let the staff do it for us since they would be delivering it anyway. I bet our faces showed a world of bewilderment when the guy we were talking to told us that he could only help us with the location of the items but we would have to pick them out ourselves, pay for it at the checkout counter, queue up at the home delivery section with our purchases, pay the delivery fee and wait for it to be delivered on the appointed day. Gj looked like he wanted to throw his hands in despair. Guess now we found out why the prices are kept low as the shopper really do all the grunt work, no exceptions.

After collecting everything we want (3 large bookcases, a 3-drawer chest, 2 shelves on either side of the TV unit, 2 bridging boards and 4 small doors for the TV unit), we queued up for the delivery service just as the store’s announcement system informed us that the store is about to close. We paid the $65 delivery fee (lower if you live nearer the city) and were told that we could expect our purchases the next day. We went home exhausted and hungry, as usual, but glad that at least we got most of the things we wanted. By then we’re also thinking that maybe the unavailability of some of the items on our list is a blessing in disguise. With the exception of the TV bench, we basically got what we were originally after and budgeted for.

I woke up Sunday morning to a ringing phone. I wasn’t able to get the phone on time but got a recorded message from the delivery guys. Although we were originally given an estimate of an afternoon delivery (1 to 6 PM), they said that they’ll be coming within the hour. They made good on that promise as the Budget truck they were driving backed into our driveway half an hour later. It only took about a couple of minutes for them to unload the heavy boxes and they were off. Speaking of heavy boxes, we were amazed me to see these delivery guys lifting a 45-kg box all by themselves when hubby and I could hardly do it together. We even got an offer of help from a fellow shopper when we were trying to get one bookcase into our trolley the day before, must have been the look of agony in our faces that tipped him off – here are two puny Ikea virgins who haven’t even developed the kind of muscles required to lift the merchandise!

Anyway, hubby has put the TV unit together and was looking mighty satisfied by it last night. He even said that the thing made the room look classy. Next up would be the 3 bookcases and the chest of drawers. After that, we could ring Ikea up and see if that TV bench is already available. Can you tell that we’re newly converted fans?

Published in: on January 16, 2006 at 8:01 pm  Comments (3)  

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. @Yinsu: Oh, don’t you just love going through their showrooms? It’s quite an experience, really. It would be good to see an Ikea store in the Philippines but I guess it’s not feasible for them at the moment. Fingers crossed for the near future?

    @Duke: We thought we could get the tags scanned at the counter as well. We couldn’t imagine nor believe it when we were told we’re expected to haul all those things around. Lucky you weren’t made to do so at the HK store.

    It was funny seeing people pushing around trolleys containing sofas, constructed shelves (from the bargain section) and other big items. It’s amazing to see the lengths people would go to to get a bargain. It was chaotic and tiring and yet so much fun! Can’t wait till our next visit. 😀

  2. So, you’re new IKEA converts. Welcome to the club!

    I discovered Ikea when I was living in HK and became a big fan. Unlike you guys though, I didn’t have the hassle of getting all my purchases by myself. I bought a sofa set and some CD shelves and a book shelf and it was a breeze. I just had to go to the counter with the tags of the items and asked them deliver it. Back in HK, if you reach a certain amount, the delivery is free and they assemble the items for you.

    I figured they have different policies in each country. Here in Turkey, delievery is not free at all!

  3. i love ikea too. 😉 i went to their store in canada. i wish we also have one here in the philippines. 😉

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