Friday, January 02, 2004

Ikea blog.

Maybe, I thought earlier today, Ikea won't be so bad today. Today isn't the day after Thanksgiving, or any day during the weeks leading up to Christmas, or the day after Christmas, or even a Saturday or Sunday. By bad, I mean crowded. Chockablock with the teeming middle class; so overrun that idling in an aisle jams the flow of people a dozen shopping carts back; so much of a human mass that the three-story building doesn't need to be heated.

I was wrong. It was bad today. The whole population of suburbs was there, along with a lot of the city, and people from flat farm country as far as Peoria, no doubt. Ikea's big blue and gold building is a major landmark in Schaumburg, and our move into this part of metro Chicago has put it within about a 15-minute drive from home. Yuriko sometimes goes without meeting madding crowds, since she can go on weekdays. But I don’t go there much, since I get a crowd-related headache ever time I try on a weekend. Got one again today.

That aside, the store has its charms, especially a line of generally well-designed goods -- housewares, furniture, etc. -- that aren’t particularly expensive. I think that the Scandinavian egalitarianism of the Swedish parent company, which has stores all over the civilized world, comes into play here. It goes against the irritating retail attitude that assumes that if you aren't willing to pay a high markup, you deserve crappy-looking things. Ikea's phenomenal popularity here in the States ought to clue in some of the more clueless retailers here that the less-than-wealthy can have good taste, too.

I also like the fact that everything retains its Swedish name, with appropriate English subtitles on the signs. Among other things, the store sells hemlis, bumerang, flang, lambo and jakt, and those are just clothes hangers or shoe racks. The food court's pretty good, too, though that term really doesn't do it justice, since it isn't a selection of fast-food chains, but instead Ikea's own idea of keep-them-in-store food service, which includes more standard sorts of sandwiches and pasta, but also Swedish meatballs with lingonberries and roast potatoes.


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