I have often heard about this magical store known as IKEA. But up until this past Saturday, I had not personally visited a store. That happens a lot when you grow up in northern Maine–you hear rumors of civilization to the south, but you have no eye-witness experience. I can clearly remember my first visits to places like Chick-Fil-A, Red Robin, Cook Out, Charming Charlie’s, Ross, Ann Taylor… the list could go on forever. And I remember clearly because I had never seen any of those retail establishments prior to college. Moving to South Carolina has been an educational experience in more ways than one.
Greenville actually doesn’t have an IKEA, which is surprising to a lot of people. Greenvillians themselves seem to be a little irritated that Charlotte, NC, has one instead. It doesn’t seem to make much sense. After all, Greenville has everything else (except for an H&M, which may be the one store I ran across in the North that I can’t find down here).
Certain friends of mine, with whom I regularly crash for holidays and weekends, have often bemoaned my IKEA-less life. I shrugged it off for all these years. I didn’t know what I was missing.
Fast forward to this past Saturday. My friend Olivia (of http://www.thefabulouswifeblog.com/) and I had just finished our Kids Books and Coffee video. IKEA came up in conversation. Olivia suggested that we go soon. I said it would need to be before classes start at the end of this month. So we got Miss Madeline ready and made the drive to Charlotte.
I’ll spare you how long it took. We hit construction. Normally, a drive to Charlotte isn’t too bad.
By the time we got to IKEA, we were starving, so we went straight to the café. It’s all set up cafeteria style, but it has the feel of a hip coffee house. And the food was not that expensive. I got my full meal for $8, which is about the same as regular fast food these days. It also tasted better than fast food. And this meal came with vegetables!
Olivia claimed that the Swedish meatballs and cranberry sauce were necessary for the full experience, so that’s what I got. They came with veggies and mashed potatoes with gravy. We also got garlic bread. There were also these things called Punschrulle that we just had to try. And hey, as a girl who came from a tight-knit Scandinavian family that annually honors its heritage with Scandinavian food at Christmas, I have a thing for Swedish desserts.
Now… I couldn’t remember exactly what was supposed to be in those things. So I just googled it. There’s a cakey, chocolatey, oatey roll in the center, which is apparently flavored with a good bit of liquor (I’d say oops, but as rum flavoring seems to abound in every Scandinavian recipe I’ve ever seen, I can’t say I’m surprised…). Anyway, that roll is then wrapped in marzipan. And then the ends of the whole thing get dipped in chocolate. And it’s tasty.
But this is IKEA. And while the food is good, that’s not really the point of the store. So back to the main point.
The place is huge. So huge that they have maps! You just kind of walk through this maze of a store, following the arrows. And there are all these mini show rooms throughout. Everything is staged to look like a real house, complete with books on the bookshelves and clothes in the closets. There’s even model patios, decks, and greenhouses.
There are storage systems galore, all designed to basically take everything you own and put it out of sight. The super-clean-and-not-at-all-cluttered look is in. Also, a lot of the stuff there was cheaper than the equivalent at, say, Target or Lowes. Then there’s sections divided into departments where you see all the couches, or all the bathroom vanities, or the French press that was sitting on a dining room table. Apparently, proper protocol is to take down item numbers here. And then there’s the warehouse, where you actually go find the stuff and take it to checkout. All in all, I was impressed. Liv and I had a great time. It’s no wonder everyone loves IKEA.
10/10–will go again!