Not too long ago, there was an ad for IKEA lauding it as Swedish for “idea” but every time I shop at an IKEA store I have to wonder whether it was a good idea. As I drive away sweaty, thirsty, and feeling as though I’ve just trekked through a very vast expanse of either jungle or desert, I wish I knew the Swedish translation for “frustration,” “exhaustion,” and “I don’t care how good the savings, is this really worth the effort?”
In fairness to the Swedes, I’m sure most of my difficulty with their iconic store is that I’m not well-versed in how to shop there. I always wear the wrong footwear, I never remember to bring provisions – water bottle, high energy snackables, compass – and worse, I never enter the giant sliding doors with an iron-clad plan.
[When The Man goes with me, there is always a plan but since The Man would rather have all of his nose hair plucked out by a blind person with dull tweezers than go to IKEA, I often go alone.]
For shoppers like me who suffer from high anxiety and who are subject to ADD caused by over-visual stimulation, IKEA is not a good place to meander or browse. There’s just too much to see, too many ways to get lost, and too many displays to knock over while turning in an aimless circle.
Even if I go in with trail mix and a plan, I am often thwarted right at the very end just when I think I’ve escaped without physical damage or emotional scarring. As I barrel into the self-serve section pushing a trolley as big as a tractor trailer (and far less manoeuverable), I skid to a halt in Aisle 37B/subsection 1a only to find they have no more of the Stokholmen shelving in the off-white solid wood but have 500 of the same in the lingonberry mauve (foil finish).
Today I walked out with aching feet and feeling like a salmon who had just made the ardurous swim upstream (because I never, ever follow the arrows painted on the floor). Any plan evaporated when faced with the vast array of things laid out to the horizon.
I left without even so much as a bag of Swedish meatballs (which I’d actually meant to buy). Good ideas for IKEA (for next time): don’t go alone. Add Valium to the trail mix. Rent a mobility scooter. Learn Swedish for “clear the decks, coming through!”