As anyone who has shopped at IKEA can attest, a trip to one of the company’s maze-like furniture stores can be a soul-sucking, stress-inducing, relationship-ruining slog. But it doesn’t have to be.
Before embarking on a recent trip to the IKEA in Brooklyn, NY, we spoke to a company spokesperson about how to avoid burning out while shopping at the store. Once there, we put her tips to the test.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to best turn your IKEA nightmare into a somewhat pleasant dream — or, as they say in Sweden, dröm.
Going in without a game plan is a customer's No. 1 mistake when visiting IKEA, according to IKEA US design spokesperson, Janice Simonsen.
In fact, you need to prepare before even leaving your home. Make sure you have measurements on hand and check out IKEA's tools, like the home planner and online shopping list, before you visit.
Even if you have a strict game plan, IKEA's expansive design and tendency to be overrun with crowds means it is unlikely this will be a quick trip in and out. If you start your day thinking it will be, you're only going to get flustered and upset.
Many people don't realise that every IKEA location has a bistro near the checkout, serving items like pizza and frozen yogurt, and a full-service restaurant, typically upstairs near the showroom.
The full-service restaurant is far superior to the bistro, serving up items such as Swedish pancakes, ribs, and IKEA's signature meatballs at very low prices.
Stop by the full-service restaurant for some inexpensive sustenance before going into the belly of the beast.
'Once you arrive at IKEA, check the store map in the lobby and head directly to the part of the store where you want to shop,' says Simonsen.
The guiding arrows on the showroom's floor can be helpful, but there is no need to walk through the entire store searching for what you want.
A helpful rule of thumb for any IKEA store is that the showroom, which is full of furniture and faux room layouts, is located on the second floor, while the checkout and marketplace, which has smaller home goods like kitchen appliances and textiles, is on the first floor.
Unlike many loyalty programs, the IKEA family program is completely free. Benefits include discounts, the chance to win a $100 gift card every month, free coffee or tea and other food deals.
You can sign up online or at a kiosk in the store.
Småland -- which literally means Small Land -- is a free supervised play area near the IKEA entrance. Kids who are between three-feet and four-and-a-half-feet tall and potty trained can stay here for to an hour of free child care -- an hour-and-a-half for IKEA Family members.
One risk you take when shopping at IKEA is that everyone you know may end up with the same exact furniture.
The best way to avoid this is to spend a little bit extra on an item and look out for limited-time offerings, which IKEA regularly debuts.
One of the biggest keys to having a more enjoyable IKEA experience is figuring out exactly where the shortcuts are and using them.
'IKEA provides floor plans and has introduced more and more 'shortcuts' to make it possible to move more quickly through the store if you don't want to see everything during your visit,' says Simonsen.
Don't get lost in the maze. Take a shortcut.
Once you've figured out what you want, picked up your items in the self-serve area, and paid, you need to devise a strategy for getting your items home and assembled.
The most popular option is delivery. You can also skip the entire in-store process by paying more for picking with delivery, which means IKEA employees will both pick out the items in the store and deliver them to your home. IKEA also offers assembly services.
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