For people in St. Louis who haven’t shopped Ikea in the eight months it has been open, you are probably wondering “What is the big deal?” Well, I think you have to see it to believe it, but even so, I am going to try and explain it.
First is the sheer size of the property. It contains 1300 parking spaces and the store is 380,000 square feet. The unique set up of the store means that you will typically walk 2-3 miles as you follow the pre-set route. Data shows that people average three hours on site per store visit. The layout can be daunting—which is why my next two blogs will be helpful hints on navigating the store.
Of course, the three hours may include a visit to the restaurant, which certainly contributes to the hype. Between the free coffee and tea for Ikea Family members, the 99 cent breakfast and the scrumptious Swedish meatballs, the restaurant lives up to the hype, in my opinion. Again, a future post will be dedicated to the restaurant and market food.
The restaurant is indicative of the overall Ikea experience: Value. The furnishings and décor are very good quality for the inexpensive price tag. The adage “you get what you pay for” doesn’t exactly apply to their products because they have streamlined EVERYTHING to cut costs and offer affordable items that have a higher quality than their competitors. As an experienced furniture assembler, I can tell you that not all particle board is created equal. They use higher grade materials, design items so that the assembly is very sound (this is your labor, so it doesn’t cost them) and they even design the packaging to keep size and materials to a minimum—saving money on packaging and shipping. The attention to detail of all of their costs is what makes these products affordable—not because the products are cheaply made. Having said this, there are higher quality and more affordable lines and another future post will help you to discern the difference.
The last major piece that contributes to the hype is the universal design of the items and how they then appeal to a wider audience. I call it universal because the design is typically basic and minimal, thus blending into different styles. As a whole the store seems modern, but taken out of context I have seen pieces work in all styles of homes, offices and businesses. In addition, the simplicity of the design has spawned an entire Pinterest category—Ikea Hacks. I will share some of my favorites in the future.
The one part of the Ikea legend that I don’t buy into is how difficult and frustrating the assembly can be. As an engineer I appreciate the brilliance of their assembly design and the graphic-only assembly instructions. But I am grateful that many people struggle with the assembly, because it gives me an opportunity to make a business out of doing something that I love. So if you finally shop Ikea and find the perfect pieces to supplement your home décor, don’t let the daunting assembly instructions deter you. Call me instead!