It has nothing (well, very little) to do with allen keys and assemble-it-yourself furniture.  And it’s only partly because – for some reason – my 10-month-old twins seem to love it.  (Seriously.  Whenever we go, they stare wide eyed at the BILLY bookcases and BJURSTA tables, babbling and smiling at passersby.)

IKEA just opened in Winnipeg a few months ago.  Instantly it became very uncool to be excited about it.  I decided I didn’t care.

A little background. Years ago, when I got my first apartment with my friend and roommate Ryan, I acquired an IKEA credit card (one of several…I was fresh out of university with four credit cards.  It was a recipe for disaster but that’s another blog post.)  I decided the smartest thing to do would be to furnish our whole apartment in IKEA, purchased over the internet.  Too bad I neglected to tell Ryan.  The day that the furniture arrived, Ryan was late getting home from work and came home to find me seated on the living room floor, surrounded by a half-assembled bed, dresser, coffee table, and several chairs – projects I had begun, but abandoned halfway through when I could no longer decipher the wordless instructions. Probably because they look like this:

ikea instructions

There’s a reason these instructions have been parodied – they’re useless.  And who is this fingerless pointy-nosed blob actually assembling the furniture?  Are we to assume this is how IKEA views its customers?

But I digress.  Anyway, Ryan and I spent a night eating $5 Little Caesar’s pizzas and assembling an apartment’s worth of IKEA furniture, an experience that has left such an indelible mark on our psyches that just a few weeks ago, when he texted me a photo of the instructions for his latest IKEA acquisition with the caption “Oh fuck,” I got a sinking feeling in my stomach  – and laughed because it wasn’t me that was going to have to put it together.

Fast forward to the present day.  It’s winter in Winnipeg, a winter that has seen us get almost two metres of snow, and below freezing temperatures into April.  I have twin boys at home and I’m feeling very cooped up, because some of my neighbours seem to think shoveling the sidewalk is optional, and I can’t push a stroller through that muck.  Then IKEA opens.

It’s a 1.2 kilometre indoor walk through the showroom and “Market Hall” (where you buy all the no-assembly-required kitchen gadgets and home decor).  Over a kilometre of walking – if you do it twice, that nearly qualifies as a workout.  Then, to replace all the calories I just burned, I can relax in the restaurant and get a fresh cinnamon bun and a coffee for $1.70 ($1.70! That’s better than Tim Horton’s!)  They have baby care rooms and bottle warmers (a fact which actually made me cry when I learned about it.  Thanks, breastfeeding hormones). The aisles are big enough for my giant tandem stroller.  And perhaps best of all, when the boys are a bit older I can drop them at “Smaland” where they can play, supervised, FOR FREE.

Yup, I am IKEA’s target demographic and they have me figured out.  But guess what?  Nearly ten years after I bought it (on credit!), my family is still using my then-$45 INGO table.  It does the job.

(Top image credit: J. James  [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)


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