The sky was overcast and a slight drizzle fell upon me as I stepped out of the car in front of the monstrous blue building that dwarfed me as if I were one of the tiny rain drops. The yellow letters on the front spelled out Ikea, like someone with a Brooklyn accent admitting to a vandalism crime; “Yea, I key a car yesterday, so what?” The furniture warehouse opened here in Memphis, Tennessee last month only a couple minutes from where I live, so it was time to see what all the fuss was about since we didn’t have any of them fancy stores down in Arkansas when I was growing up. I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed, both with the vast enormity of the store, and the different varieties of shopping carts, they had the traditional one with four wheels, a two wheeled dolly that folds out into a cart, or a big yellow bag similar to a reusable grocery bag, although I wasn’t sure what good that would do at a furniture store, unless of course it was a magical bag like in Harry Potter that could hold anything. I didn’t get a shopping cart, dolly, or bag, but now I’m kind of wishing I would’ve gotten the bag just in case it was magical, a regret that I’ll have to live with the rest of my life.
I walked past a child’s play area on the right where parents could leave their children to be supervised by an employee while they shop. It seems like a really forward thinking, innovative idea, but I have to wonder if any parents take advantage of this, dropping their kids off there even though they aren’t shopping, or “accidentally” forgetting the kids when they leave, just to have a couple hours of “me time” before going back to their monotonous lives full of soccer practices and play dates. If this isn’t already happening, I guarantee it will in the future. My wife and I do want kids at some point, and I’m not the type of snob to turn my nose up at free day care. So I walked past the play area and into a living room, and then into a kitchen, looking at the different furniture and storage containers, checking the price tags and marveling in agreement with my wife about the inexpensiveness of everything. There was a wooden end table already built for only $7.99! We don’t really need an end table, but for that price, you find a place to put it.
We walked through a city of sofas, chairs, and bedroom furniture. My favorite item of the day was a chair/ottoman combo. The back of the chair rocked instead of the bottom, so it stayed in place, and it was really quite comfortable. I considered buying it for a moment before concluding that I couldn’t afford it, and walked away with the hope that maybe one day I could buy it, thought with the same determination that others feel when they decide to start saving money to buy a house. It’s good to have goals. We walked through the children’s section and came to an agreement without saying a word that the bedrooms of our children would be filled with crap from IKEA. I wonder if they offer a store credit card with an insanely high interest rate. It’s definitely worth looking into. My wife and I made our way through the cafeteria, home to the famous swedish meatballs, but it was the middle of the afternoon and neither of us were hungry so we continued on.
At this point I was beginning to get a little bored and just slightly impatient. IKEA was awesome but I was quickly growing tired of being there as I came to the realization that shopping isn’t that much fun without money or a space at home in need of furniture. We kept walking, further and further from the way we came, me following my wife, my wife following the arrows on the ground. I needed to go to the bathroom, a trend in Sweden that must not have caught on yet, seeing as how I didn’t spot a single bathroom as I walked through the store, debating the likelihood of me getting caught peeing into one of the plants and my chances of getting arrested. I journeyed on, and once we finally trekked our way around the entire building, I found the restroom near the entrance and reappeared moments later feeling much, much better. All in all it was a pretty cool store, a paradise for a new homeowner who doesn’t yet own any furniture, but for me, a guy with a full apartment and an empty checking account, IKEA is completely unnecessary. I’m sure I will visit again at some point, maybe to eat some meatballs or perhaps buy some furniture, or if I’m feeling particularly saucy, maybe, just maybe, I’ll do both.