Aside from a few minor contractor items here and there that needed finishing up our space was ready for decorating. We had a painter come over this weekend to paint the entire space while my wife and I headed to Atlanta for IKEA shopping. The paint color we chose is called Snowbound and can be found at Sherwin-Williams. For those of you that have not had the joy of IKEA shopping yet let me just say it is not for the faint of heart. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the majority of what the company does and the products they sell.
Going to IKEA is like visiting three floors of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, a mall food court, and a Home Deport. We had already been to an IKEA once before so we knew what to expect. We came prepared and had laser focus on the task at hand. Or so we thought…
*Disclaimer – If you enter into an IKEA without a plan of attack you may become disoriented, experience black outs, nausea, vomiting, and/or resting bitch face (where the muscles in your face make you look expressionless without any meaning because of the proximity to HUNDREDS of people all at once).* See Kanye with RBF
I want my pain to be your gain. Let my mistake guide you to good fortune and prosperity when visiting an IKEA. Like I said, I had been to IKEA once before for a quick”ish” trip for smaller items. This time we were going bigger…kitchen cabinets, tables, chairs, lights, and just about anything we could think of to decorate our space. We had already designed the kitchen layout on the IKEA website so we knew what we wanted for the most part.
You are given a pencil and paper with columns and rows when you arrive on the first (top) floor. This paper is to write down the row and shelf number of larger items that you want to purchase as you walk the store. Just about everything is flat boxed. You walk the store looking at the displays of kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, and all things home and office. If you see something you want then write down the corresponding number on your handy dandy paper so when you get to the final level you search for your corresponding box and grab it.
You can grab most of the smaller items just like you would at any shopping store and place in your cart. We made our way around each display looking for ideas and design inspirations. Seeing the different rooms already put together is very helpful. One of the two carts was full by the time we were ready to make our way down to the second (middle) floor. Things were running smoothly so far.
This floor had everything kitchen related. A large chunk of our time would be spent here. We made our way to one of the customer kiosks to print the kitchen plans we already designed. Each item was already given a number that either you could grab while you are walking the store or write down on your IKEA paper to grab later. We wrote down all the row and shelf numbers for the larger items and proceeded to the third (bottom) floor.
Things slow way down once you get here. Carts are over flowing. Kids are screaming. Parents are crying. Everyone is waiting to check out and escape this madness. Mind you, it took nearly four hours for my wife and I to make it to this point. Remember what I said earlier that IKEA is like three floors of Bed, Bath and Beyond, a mall food court, and a Home Depot? Think of it like if you were walking out of a BB&B but instead of a parking lot you walked straight into a Home Depot. This is where the wheels came off…
This transition is where you bring out your handy-dandy IKEA paper and start hunting for all your boxes that you have been keeping track of since you arrived. My wife and I pulled over our carts to the side to regroup. We checked that all the items we needed were either in our cart or on the paper before we ventured out into the warehouse of endless boxes. Do you see where I am going with this yet?….wait for it…here it comes…
We lost the IKEA paper. I repeat, WE LOST THE FREAKIN’ IKEA PAPER!
After arguing for a solid five minutes on whose fault it was we realized that it was gone, nothing would change that. I went back and retraced our steps as best as I could in hopes that it would magically be laying on the ground perfectly intact despite the thousands of feet and hundreds of carts that would have trampled it. My wife stayed back emptying our carts to see if it slipped down without us noticing.
No luck on my end. No luck on her end.
So all the time and energy we just spent walking this entire behemoth of a store was wasted now because our paper with all the little numbers corresponding to rows, shelf, and item was gone. How is it possible that such a large and profitable company would rely on such a barbaric way for its customers to buy its products?
Short answer, they can. We still had our carts full of the smaller items we needed so we proceeded further into the warehouse. We noticed some customer kiosks that were similar to the ones on the previous floor and realized that we could search the entire IKEA product line. Even though we lost the paper with all the info we found a small glimpse of hope. However, in order for this to work we had to remember all the items that we wanted. And it was a lot of stuff! Close to 30 minutes passed before we wrote down the last item shelf and row number.
Time to get serious. Neither one of us wanted to be here any longer than we needed. So we had to divide and conquer. I glanced at the first item on the list and headed toward the corresponding row. I got to the row and located the correct shelf and item number. One down, so many more to go. I grabbed box after box, dodging bodies right and left.
IKEA has very similar carts to the ones used in Home Depot. The ones used to carry lumber and heavier items. Ours was packed solid. Some kitchen items were still needed so we had to wait in the customer service line because those boxes can only be pulled by IKEA employees. There were three customers service employees working. Three servicing a few hundred shoppers. This does not compute.
Another 30 minutes passed before my wife approached the counter. I waited over to the side with the carts. My wife handed the list to the employee. He looked at the list and then started typing on his computer. A couple of minutes passed as he would glance back at the paper then focus again on the computer. From my point of view it looked like he was actually helping and we may make it out of alive. Suddenly, he handed my wife the paper. She turned, looked at me, and I swear lasers were coming out of her eyes.
She walked over and told me that most of the kitchen items were not in stock. Let me just take a pause right here. In an everyday normal situation if a store is out of stock it’s not a big deal. You can always just come back the next day or whenever the item is in stock again. However, we did just drive 3 1/2 hours to get here and spent five hours with the walking dead. At no point when we were using the customer kiosk on the second (middle) floor confirming the design of the kitchen or using the kiosk on the third (lower) floor were we alerted of items not being in stock!
No mention of item quantity was listed that would give us the impression that something we wanted may be gone by the time we reach the end of this journey. Nothing. Zero. Nada.
We felt defeated. Hours of shopping and the main items we came to get were not even in stock. The customer service guy said we could come back in three days when the next shipment arrived to see if the items we needed come in OR they could ship us the items for a small fortune. Neither choice was really a viable option. There was nothing else to do but check out and drive home.
As I drove away seeing the big bright IKEA letters in my rear view mirror I couldn’t help think how many times this must happen to other people. Looking back on it I guess we should have called to make sure what we needed was in stock. Relying on the IKEA home design program and website alone was a mistake.
If you are making a trek to IKEA for large projects make sure what you want is in stock. Make sure to get confirmation or you may spend hours shopping only to find what you want is not there.
The silver lining…on the way home my wife researched ways to get IKEA items without having to drive to a physical store or spend an arm and a leg on shipping. There is a business in Nashville called ModerNash that you can place your IKEA order with and they will drive to the store and pick up what you want then call you when they return! You are charged a service fee for your total order. If you buy a full king size bed for $500.00 or a lamp for $500.00 the service fee will be the exact same. The next day we put in an order with ModerNash for everything else we needed. The next week we received a call when they returned. Drove 10 minutes to the store, loaded the boxes, and headed home. Absolutely worth it!
So until Nashville gets an IKEA this is the way to go for us. Maybe you have a similar business where you live. It’s worth finding out. If you don’t, now you know what to expect when going to an IKEA.
May the odds be ever in your favor.