Tuesday, June 05, 2007

So, IKEA. We meet again.

Actually, this was the first time I'd ever been to the IKEA in Elizabeth, NJ, which might betray my inexperience. I was pretty much thinking we'd get in, get our $70 dresser, and get out.


The layout, in which you progress along a pre-mapped course through a showroom, on pain of getting irrevocably lost and dying of starvation without even a Swedish meatball to sustain you, is very, very conducive to a) finding something (more expensive) that you like better, and b) picking up a bunch of little things on your way out. We did both.

Instead of the $70 dresser, we got a $129 bookcase. It has four rows of four cubbyholes each, and we got four wicker baskets sized to fit in the cubbyholes to serve as the "drawers," mostly for clothing like underwear & socks & whatnot. It gives us a lot more storage than a dresser would have, and it's prettier besides—I do like it better. And it also cost more: $129, plus $13 each for the baskets, plus about $10 total for a couple of trivets, a little set of tupperware, a set of salt & pepper shakers, and a set of little dishes for soy sauce. And then I'd forgotten about the whole "cars need gas" thing (we borrowed my parents'; they want it started while they're on vacation, we want a way to get to places like IKEA, so everyone wins). So I'm pretty seriously strapped this week, trying to come up with about $130, which was about $90 more than I'd imagined I'd be spending.

I'm not sorry we bought it (I love it!), and I will manage to cashflow it—the frugal food week will be helpful in making it work—but it's going to be a tight week until my next paycheck.


Sarah said...

IKEA is a little like Target. You always spend more than you plan to.

Strange Bird said...

My boyfriend HATES Ikea for this reason: the rat maze set-up makes him feel like he is FORCED to spend money, so he bucks the system by instead getting a terrible headache and being cranky all day. Ikea:1, Strange Bird:0. ;)

SF Money Musings said...

I love and hate Ikea. I end up buying things not on my list or what I originally intended. And you can't beat the meatballs and the price - it's really delicious and satisfying.

ali c said...

A friend of mine is convinced that they pump oxygen into the place to make everyone euphoric. As if the maze weren't enough.

PiggyBank Raider said...

I, too, have a love/hate relationship with Ikea. It feeds the consumer in me, but it kills the environmentalist.

Kim said...

Ah, so true. IKEA is such a love/hate place. I lean more towards love, but only because I've developed a system. When I moved to the Bay Area, and a mere 7ish miles from IKEA (dangerous!!!), I spent a LOT of time there. Even if I didn't need anything. There were roommates and boyfriends that needed things, and I was the one with the car--and the "sure, I'll TOTALLY go with you! I LOVE IKEA" attitude.

The System:
0: Only go when you have a lot of time to wander...nobody likes feeling time-pressured in IKEA.
1: Bring a shopping list.
2: Right when you walk in the door, grab only a pencil and one of those sheets they provide to write things down on. DO NOT grab a cart or bag, unless you have things on your list that you can't carry in your hands (like a rug or multiple small items)
3: Stick to the list.
4: When walking around the showrooms, write down everything you like and are thinking about buying, including items that are similar (different styles of bookcases, etc). Write down item number, price, color, and then jot down your comments/gut reactions.
5: When you're getting ready to leave (and going to that self-help section), compare prices/your comments on all of your items. Don't forget to check the discount section--sometimes an item will be as much as 50% off just because it's missing an easy-to-replace shelf!
6: Go through your cart/bag and REALLY decide if you need all that stuff you didn't mean to grab.

Generally, I end up putting back the candle holders/ice cube trays/swedish meatballs, and I always feel better about my big purchase knowing that I am definitely getting what I want, having planned carefully and looked at all my options.

It really makes you feel like you're in control--and not like IKEA is manipulating your every move.

Dani @ Living Behind the Curve said...

Here's a tip: avoid the rat maze! Most shoppers, and therefore the general traffic flow, follow the arrows on the floor. There are shortcuts, though, that can get you through to the checkout while avoiding most of the store. The next time you're in an IKEA, watch the ceiling for directional signs. Underneath the signs, there is usually a small gap in the displays that allows you to cut through to another section. Following these shortcuts, I can make it to the register of an IKEA in 15 minutes, with only the item I went in for.