The only thing missing from the house was the bedding and towels etc. So there was only one place to go - to the world famous IKEA. This was going to be a multi stage mission. Sara and I had decided that we would compare prices for bedding etc in Norway versus NZ. Everything else here is expensive so we thought we would check first. If it was going to be much cheaper in NZ Sara would bring this stuff with her.
So on Saturday afternoon I was of to IKEA. I didn’t really know what to expect as I hadn’t had the pleasure of visiting an IKEA before. One arriving at the store, the first thing that really hits you is the overall size of the shop, it is frigging huge. You drive into the unground car park, which is huge, obviously. Getting a car park was the first challenge, a lot of the car parks around Norway have little sensors above the park, which detects whether there is a car in the space or not. If it is full it has a red light, it is empty it has a green light, very handy. This enables you to
see down a row if the is any free spots. If they are all red you keep driving. Very smart!!
Useless fact: This store (Slependen) was the very first store in the world outside of Sweden (where IKEA comes from). This was the beginning of what has become the global (except New Zealand) retail home wares empire that IKEA now is.
Finding a park I was off, the first lesson learnt is you don’t go to IKEA on a Saturday, because it is extremely busy. (Another little fact about Norway, actually the whole of Scandinavia, the shops aren’t open on a Sunday, in fact very little is open on a Sunday. Which is really weird for me going from NZ where almost everything is open 7 days) So people have to pack their whole weekends shopping fix into one day.
On walking into the store you just start to follow the crowds, with the number of people you just get sucked along with the flow. You start off in themed areas that are fully dressed, i.e. Lounge with everything, all of which you can purchase. It is a very good set up as it gives you design
and styling ideas, from the furniture to the accessories. It is a little bit like Freedom Furniture back home but 1000 times better. As you just wander around and absorb the sights, you weave around the store through the different areas, I was literally awe inspired. You go from Lounges, to offices, bedrooms, kitchens (a very good kitchen display) you name it, if its got to do with your home, it’s here. I was also impressed with the quality, its not cheap warehouse quality stuff, but its seems to be really decent middle of the road products at very reasonable prices.
After about 45 minutes of being sucked around to shop with the crowds of people, I was back to where I started. It this point I was some what confused, as I couldn’t see any check outs, there were displays for stuff to buy, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Anyway, thinking I had missed something, I went around again, this time picking up a few bits and pieces I needed. This time it only took about 15 minutes and sure enough I was back to where I started again. Still not seeing any sign of checkout
I just stood their for a minute and watched people carrying stuff. I observed they were going down a large flight of stairs, so being a sheep, I just followed, worst case I will claim I am a foreigner and plead ignorance and hope for the best.
On going down this magical set of stairs only to be transported to another world, holly crap, more IKEA, this place really is huge! OK, now things are starting to make sense. This is the area you buy stuff, it could be just a man thing, but I am a bit slow on the uptake. If you think about it, it really is a very clever marketing strategy, they present all these wonderful ideas and inspired your imagination, now is your chance to own a piece of Scandinavian style. So you get your flat bed trolley or your XXL shopping bag and go to town.
Walking into the first area, this is more like what you would call a typical department store, with displays of products, bulk displays of specials (stack them high watch them fly as we used to say in my retail years in a previous life) rows of
shelving displaying all the goods to purchase. It really is very impressive. It is very well set up and displayed. It’s not all in one big open space divided into departments, its all in areas and you flow through from one to the next. They physically make you walk through the whole store. Also to capitalize on this even further, they have special bins everywhere with lots of little knickknacks, like having chocolate bars at the supermarket checkouts. It is amazing how many times you find yourself just going, oh, that’s cheap, I could do with some of those. Whether you need them or not, they are too cheap to leave behind. OMG, I am becoming a shopper. This is coming from a person who is traditionally what I call a mission shopper, as in get what you came for and get out, no wandering around aimlessly, just do it and get it done. I guess that’s what happens when you have time to kill and nowhere particular to be. These stores count on the impulse purchase, the small low cost items, that you don’t really need but that you can’t help but buy. At the end of the day,
its how these places make money. I must admit, these guys do it extremely well.
As I have said before, if you haven’t experienced this before, it is very impressive. Even if you are not interested in buying anything, if you get the chance just go and have a look.
On working my way through the yet again massive bottom floor you come to the bulk warehouse, this is where you pick up your kit set furniture. Again very impressive, everything is flat packed ready for transport and assembly. It is a typical warehouse high racking, everything stacked on pallets, fork hoists, pallet jacks moving things, it all here. Once you walk through this area you come to the check-out area, finally. It is a typical department store style check-out but wider isles to allow for the trolley full of your new kitset kitchen or entertainment unit. But again, being a Saturday afternoon the queues were big. I stood in line for about 15 mins to buy the couple of things I had picked up. Again standing in the queues with time to kill, more handy items in bulk bins for you to browse while you wait, just
what I needed some novelty iceblock moulds, or funky plastic bag clips or what about some house brand IKEA batteries. As I said before, these guys do it very well.
I finally got back to the car, the whole process took 2 ½ hours. It this stage I was exhausted and was glad to be out of there. I had to go back to the apartment for a cup of tea and a lie down.
And yes, for those of you who where wondering, I did get the pricing on the items I needed to check and yes I did end up buying all the items we needed locally.
This was my first of many trips to IKEA over the last few weeks. It’s a bit like a drug you have to go back for more. I have even found myself finding excuses to go back to get things. I think I need some company!!!
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