A dear friend brought to my attention via social media that the Memphis-area IKEA’s opening day was announced, along with the side note that customers can begin lining up two days in advance to be part of the lucky first to enter its sliding glass doors. While I won’t be taking advantage of this offer, for those who do: I understand your utter delight and excitement that surpasses all understanding. My palms are actually a little sweaty as I’m typing and my heart is beating a wee bit faster than usual as I consider we are less than seven weeks from this Swedish powerhouse being part of our landscape. And though this is the Mid-South’s first foray into IKEA territory, the store and all it represents has been part of my own personal landscape for years.
Friends nicknamed my apartment in Los Angeles “The IKEA Showroom.” No offense was ever taken because with bills that equaled income, when I was furnishing my 400 square foot studio the budget, or lack thereof, was priority. I remember looking around that room, admiring my SVÄRTA loft bed, MICKE work desk and area rug. I didn’t have much but what I had was mine free and clear, as in no credit card debt or Rent To Own payments, thanks to the affordability of IKEA furniture. It wasn’t designer but it was stylish and functional, even if it took longer than anticipated to put together (a big reason for savings is having to assemble the furniture yourself; most everything comes packaged in flat boxes and if you don’t have the time, patience or skill for it, the store will refer you to professionals who can do it for an additional fee.)
There is something for everyone at IKEA, regardless of status or income level. I’ve seen more celebrities at the Burbank IKEA on a Saturday morning than I have in Fred Segal on Melrose. On one of those mornings, in the Living Room area, actor Dennis Haysbert told me to never give up on my dreams. One celebrity interior designer, who made me promise to never share that I actually saw him there, said the key to shopping at IKEA for the “distinguished” client is to focus on accessorizing: purchase smaller items here to complement the larger, custom-made pieces flown in from around the world. If you’re on a tight budget I promise you that this store will have something useful that you can walk out of its doors with. And you will receive compliments on it from those who visit your home. If there’s one ideology IKEA has mastered it’s that inexpensive need not be hideous and cheap can certainly be charming.
Photo concept of IKEA Memphis by IKEA USA
For parents who need to shop sans child there is a fun, FREE play area (Småland) where you can drop off said child and get a little bit of “me” time. Maybe you’ll skip through the showroom celebrating that someone is watching your sweet child FREE OF CHARGE. Or you’ll make your way to the café where you can purchase a healthy meal (think salmon and veggies) for about five dollars. Once you’ve picked up your darling child I recommend going back to the café for seconds, this time trying out the meatballs and mashed potatoes, followed by an ice cream cone or cinnamon bun for dessert. If you go on a Tuesday, kids eat free; babies always eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.
For many musicians, artists and actors (including my husband) IKEA is listed somewhere on their Supplemental Income Résumé. I’m not saying it’s utopia but for those I knew who needed a flexible schedule, a paycheck large enough to cover survival costs (in Los Angeles, no less) and…wait for it…BENEFITS, this place was an answer to prayers. No, it’s not perfect and I could privately share stories that elicit both shock and laughter- particularly from those who worked in the Returns department- but its pros far outweigh its cons.
Yes- lines will be long, especially in the beginning weeks. I suggest using the buddy system so while one of you waits in line the other can run to the café and purchase frozen yogurt and Kakor chocolate cookies for both of you. By the time you’ve debated how something so delicious can be so inexpensive you’ll be checking out.
Yes- there may be screws missing from your package when you get home. You’ll have to go back to the store and grab some from customer service. Don’t view this as an inconvenience. View it as an unexpected opportunity to go back to a place where you’ll find design inspiration, lunch for $3.99 and a chance to pick up the Audrey Hepburn painting that caught your eye but couldn’t fit in your cart last time around.
This holiday season is going to be a good one, Memphis. He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, and I guarantee he’s going to find something you’ve asked for at IKEA.
IKEA Memphis will officially open December 14, 2016. For more information about the show, you may visit their regional website, here.