For the last six months to a year our television station has reported on the ‘soon-to-be’ Ikea store about thirty thousand times. Well, why not? It’s a big deal. The largest retail opening in New Haven in anyone’s memory.
About a week ago the store opened, and we reported again. This time it was the traffic and the impact on the businesses nearby.
Tonight, as Ann Nyberg (one of our lead anchors) and I were heading to dinner, we decided to take a detour and see Ikea. Ann, of Swedish ancestry, treated this a like a homecoming or a visit to a long lost relative.
The store is immense – not only in square footage but in its vertical reach. The concept is similar to warehouse stores, like BJ’s or Costco, in that the stock is adjacent to the selling floor, stacked to the very high ceiling. Judging by the signs, the idea is to walk through Ikea as if you’re on a trail, going from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ and so on. Somehow we started at the end and walked against traffic for the rest of our visit.
On this Monday night, the parking lot was full and the store jammed. I have been told, and had seen on our news stories, that it was busier last week. That’s to be expected.
We turned first to the Swedish food section. Ann bought some sort of Scandinavian cookies which she later opened with her teeth as we drove back to work. I bought a small tin of herring¹. Then we walked through the store.
The furniture and furnishings for sale are spartan but nicely designed… maybe aesthetically pleasing is a better phrase. Though the word Swedish is liberally thrown around when describing the place, I picked up a few items and they were all from China. I guess they were designed in Sweden. At least I hope they were.
As we waited to pay for our items, we ran into the Achilles heel of the organization – the checkout line. Though our items all had UPC stickers on them, the clerk had to look them up in a book and then scan those UPC codes.
For a store that’s so streamlined and efficient, the checkout was too long, too tedious.
As we waited to pay, two families from Fairfield County, shopping together for their, soon to be entering the workplace, daughters let us get ahead. This furniture is perfect for them. It’s also perfect for Ann’s daughter who will enter college in the fall. I could see it as the right thing for a spare room or a first house. It’s simple, functional and relatively inexpensive.
As long as you’ve got a way to carry it home, you’re set.
I’ll be curious to look back at this store in a year and see if the throngs are still here. I guess, since it scratches an itch unserved by others, it will do well. There are no others in New England, and the closest Ikea to our south is opposite Newark Airport.
I just wish everything wasn’t made in China.
¹ – My tin of herring is 2.5 servings. Somewhere along the line the idea of nutritional information has become a scam with companies ‘gaming’ the serving size in order to post acceptable calorie, carbohydrate and other numbers.