Why would a trip to IKEA be included in a travel bog?

IKEA logo

IKEA logo

Like any trip, going to IKEA can be a journey, an adventure, an experience but be warned, such a trip can sometimes test your patience.  You need to put some thought into planning your trip, have a budget in mind and think about your locations and travel times. Yes, we are still talking about IKEA.

To those out of the retail therapy loop, love them or not love them so much, IKEA is a big deal.  IKEA is a home furnishing store or in their words a “major retail experience”.  Of Swedish origins, they brandish the colours of Sweden’s national flag in their logo with a big yellow “IKEA” backdropped against blue.  IKEA stores are located in about 38 countries.  More than 690 million people visit their stores with sales of around €27 billion…wow! 

I recently came up with the idea to make a trip (our second trip) to IKEA.  There are two IKEA stores in Melbourne.  One store is located in Richmond and the other in Springvale.

Alex and I visited the Richmond store a year ago and were exhausted and ready to turn around and go home by the time we found a car space.  We decided at that point that it was not something we were willing to do again in a hurry.  But recently, while chatting with friends, I was informed (reliably I hoped) that a well kept secret was that the IKEA store in Springvale is far easier to access, park and less crowded to walk through than the Richmond store.

So with the seed planted, I thought, lets give it a go!   Alex and I had the need to buy some new storage for our house, and my brainwave was that it might be a good time for Alex and I to get back on our IKEA horse.  Yes, we were off to the IKEA store in Springvale to test the theory that it was an easier option than the IKEA store in Richmond.  Alex was not thrilled at the idea and had his doubts but, ever the accommodating person he is, agreed to come with me.

To prepare ourselves and get our mind focused on the journey ahead, we began at a local coffee spot.  With our stalling tactics milked for all its worth, we set off on our 20 minute drive to the Springvale IKEA store.

Alex knew the way so getting there was relatively stress free.  We arrive at the store and wait at the traffic lights that will take us into the underground car park.  We brace ourselves for the potential car park rage that might lie ahead.  We enter the carpark to find a mere 800 odd car spaces free and can’t believe our eyes. 

Car park spaces indicator and not a car in sight

Car park spaces indicator and not a car in sight

We breathe a sigh of relief, things are looking up.  We have a choice of car spots within spitting distance of the entrance.  Looks like our source was right.  This is a breeze in comparison to the nightmare of our visit to the Richmond store.

We continue in and up the escalator to the official, no mistaking where you are IKEA “entrance” sign.  Hmmm, guess we enter here. 

We must be close

The reason for this big emphasis on where to enter is that the store is designed in and around arrows on the floor, designed to lead you one way through the store, ensuring you pass by every section of every area, tempting you to like something at every turn.  These IKEA people are so cunning.  Rooms of furniture with displays of all sorts are set up, designed to inspire.  There are complete bedrooms, lounge rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.  No need to worry about what piece goes with what piece, they have done all the thinking for you. 

IKEA living kitchen area displayed

We grab the complimentary IKEA shopping list and small pencil, ready to note down the article number of the items (if) we decide to buy.  These are the important codes we will need to refer to when finding our flat pack box at the end of the arrows.

Today in our shopping sights are some storage cubes.  Along the way, Alex votes the kid’s bedroom as design idea for the day.  Well spotted Alex, now keep moving or this could take all day. 

Alex proclaims this the winning display for functionality (big word)

Alex proclaims this the winning display for functionality (big word)

We discount a few display options before eventually finding exactly what we are looking for and even better… within our budget.  I write down the codes very carefully.  Ok, looks like we are done here.  It only takes us another mere hour to walk the rest of the store, following our trusty arrows which I know will lead us to freedom, via the warehouse area and of course the checkout.

Warehouse area

Warehouse area

Aisle 5, location 21, Article Number… “found it”.  With our items found, we load them onto our trolley (hoping they will fit in the car) and make out way to the checkout. 

Checkout the checkout...no people

Checkout the checkout…no people

There is one person in the queue in front of us. One person!!!

Flashback to our visit to the Richmond store from a year ago when, having eventually decided on buying a couple of small items, we saw the queue at the checkout, put down our few items (that had taken us 2 hours to discover) and promptly left empty handed.  It just wasn’t worth the wait.

Flashforward to today… couldn’t be more different….. we do the self service checkout thing, take the trolley down the big lifts which deposits us neatly in front of a loading bay. 

I wait (of course) while Alex finds the car (of course) and brings the car to the pick up bay.  We load our treasure (which fits beautifully) and head home to complete phase 2 of our IKEA outing, construction of our flatpack items by allen key.

Back at home, I lead our self-assembly operation, where I do bother to read the instructions, Alex and I do proceed to easily, quickly and without argument, put the cube storage units together.

So, in summary, I am chuffed with our purchase, with the whole operation taking us a mere 4 hours (excluding construction time of about an hour).  I don’t anticipate our house will be filled with IKEA furniture any time soon, this being our first purchase, but they are an economically affordable option and I can understand their popularity.

I can now officially say that the number of people who have visited an IKEA store has gone up by 2 and their sales have increased by AU$166.  Don’t tell IKEA but we also have our eye on some other items which might mean another trip… to the Springvale store of course.  Sorry Richmond, I love your football club, just not so much your IKEA store. [showmyads]