Millions have broken down and broken up in it's convoluted maze.
The first time I went to Ikea, my then roommate and I completely freaked out in the parking lot after thinking we missed the last bus, and only narrowly avoided a complete meltdown.
But I have pretty much mastered Ikea shopping at this point, and I am going to share with you my very special secret tips to make your journey into the land of skubbs and brimnes as simple as possible.
1. Prepare Ye Online first
NEVER ever ever go to Ikea without a list. You might as well stab yourself in the face with a whole set of Andlig knives if you go just thinking you will know what you want when you see it. Oh hell no.
Here is what should go on your prep list:
- Names and ARTICLE NUMBERS of items to check out (Do you know how many Hemnes things there are DO YOU? Get those digits. 790.018.17 is the Hemnes bookcase I want in the color I want. Be specific!)
- Number of each item you will need (We needed 5 Platta decking sets and it would have been a murder suicide if we had to go back again for more)
- Measurements of the areas in your house that you want things to fit in (i.e. couch must be less than 84" long and 40" deep)
- Check whether things are in stock at your local store or if they need to be bought online (guess what- all the Sultan Alsorps? Only buyable online, skip the trip.)
- Organize the list by category- if you know you need to see 3 kinds of chairs in person before you decide, list those together in a chair section. This will save you time and tears later when you forget if the Soldern was a lamp or a flower pot or a footstool. (Trick question--I made it up.)
- Print your list in duplicate so your partner can have one, which brings to the next tip.
You need 2 people. This is for convenience, sanity, and so someone can tell you that you will never use those very cute but not at all practical gravy boats. You also need to have a partner who will stand in line at the end while you go to the food section.
3. Never go to Ikea in a group
2 people is the minimum and maximum of who should go to Ikea. Don't try to bring other people. You will get separated from each other, lost, and waste time. Plus too many opinions can be confusing.
4. Enter in the Exit
WHAT? Yes, it can be done. It is a little weird and it is clearly not set up this way, but you can go up the exit stairs and enter where the registers are. You have to walk through the lines where people are paying for things since the closed lines are fully gated, but it is ok. Everyone in the checkout line is weary and confused and won't give a crap about you squeezing by.
When you enter in the exit, you skip the whole upstairs and go straight to the marketplace and furniture pickup.
This is another reason why you need those article numbers from your list. There will be computers where you can look up the aisle your pieces can be found in, and you don't have to run around the store looking for the tags with that info on it.
When you go in this way, you will feel like a total baller and you will feel smug pity for the people looking at you funny and going up to the real entrance. FOOLS.
5. Visit the As-Is section
As many of you already know, Ikea has an as-is section where you can find floor models and things that have been returned at discounted prices.
It is my first stop whenever I go there, partially because it is fun and I am a bargain hunter at heart, and partially because it is at the exit where I enter (I NEVER go to the upper floor showrooms....that way lies insanity).
Be sure to dig through the fabric boxes if you have any upholstered Ikea furniture, because sometimes there are heavily discounted slip covers there! I just found one for our Ektorp couch that is normally $150 and has to be ordered online, but was in the as-is section for $89 and no delivery fee. Woo!
The as-is section is also great because you don't have to put that shit together. It is already done for you. This is perfect if you are looking for a small piece you can put in your car, but unless you have a truck or something, it might make more sense to buy a new bookshelf and assemble at home.
Go to the as-is section first and grab any dishware or lighting stuff you want. Then go back to the as-is section right before you head to the registers to see if you missed anything or if any new items have been put there.
6. Don't forget lightbulbs
I need to learn this lesson better, myself. Ikea is a great place to buy lightbulbs and I always forget to do so.
Make sure to get bulbs before you go back to the furniture box section or you will regret it. Sigh.
7. Get the heavy stuff last
Even if you are passing the boxed furniture first since you have gone in the exit, you should not put those things in your cart yet. First you should get any storage, kitchen, plant etc items and then come back for the heavy stuff on your way out.
Why roll it around when you don't have to? It's not going anywhere, they have tons of them.
Also, by saving it for last you will be sure to put it in the car first and have it on the bottom where it belongs, with the lighter stuff on top.
7. Shop for food while in line
You have reached the registers, yay!
Now you wait and second guess all your purchases while wondering why the line doesn't move at all.
Your shopping partner is totally sick of you by this point (and vice versa) so give them a break and trade off going to the food section beyond the registers while waiting in line.
Things to get: the tomato sauce, the cloudberry jelly, lingonberry syrup, and frozen potato pancakes.
There are also a lot of fish products that look totally gross to me but you might like. The frozen desserts like the daim pie look really good but they are a mistake, you will regret it later when you have 3/4 left and are sick of it because it is so flatly sweet.
Bring the things back to your cart in line, argue about how many jellies one person really needs, and then let your partner go get some bags of the sub-par coffee.
8. Do not attempt to put anything together til you have eaten and slept
Ikea shopping can really take it out of you. Putting together the fiddly things together can be life-ruining. Especially if you are already cranky and tired.
Go home and unload and take a break for dinner at least. It would be great if you could sleep too. Then when you are refreshed and no longer hate the world, that is the time to start with that tiny fucking allen wrench.
No bloodshed, minimal frustration, and you got yourself some cheap stuff.