We use Google maps all the time. Here are their directions from California to Sweden – really! Make sure you read through the turn-by-turn directions.
“What do you do with your photos,” I’ve been asked? Considering I’ve taken around 25,000 shots with my Canon, it’s a reasonable question.
For a while, I did nothing. Then, this fall and again a few weeks ago, I had picture books made. I’ve also had some shots printed. I was well over 10,000 shots taken before that began.
I started with 5x7s and 8x10s. They seemed reasonably large. After all, a ‘regular’ photo print is 4×6 and 8×10 is four times larger than that!
Then I visited my friend Peter in Ventnor City, NJ.
Peter has a few immense prints on his wall and they look great. Some he took at the Jersey Shore. Other shots came from Hawaii.
I stood and stared and, quite honestly, was envious. They really did look great.
Today, I drove to Ikea in New Haven to find some frames, so I could hang my soon-to-arrive larger sized prints.
Ikea is a chain of large warehouse-like home furnishings stores. The home office is in Sweden, the stores are found worldwide and most of the merchandise is made in China.
The secret to Ikea’s success is very clean, simply styled, inexpensive stuff for your home or apartment. It’s mostly unassembled, so you can carry it home in your car. With Ikea, there’s no longer a need to have that brick and board bookshelf!
Though the store is a warehouse, it’s very inviting. Picture frames are hung. Fixtures are lit. Furniture is displayed in partitioned off home and apartment sized rooms.
I got off I-95, turned into the parking lot and gasped. It was Sunday afternoon at 4:00 PM and Ikea’s lot looked like the mall on the last shopping day before Christmas!
I may be a guy, but I do ask directions. I might still be wandering around if I hadn’t.
I was disappointed they didn’t have everything I wanted. All my frames are simple and black. I wanted more of the same.
I bought a few 16x20s and a 5-photo frame which displays 5x7s. I wanted some 12x16s and more 8×10 frames, but there were none to be found in black. I can go back or try them online.
On my way back I stopped at Michael’s to get a matte cut. One photo from my last batch was oddly sized.
I uploaded and ordered more prints tonight. I’m now ready to attack the two walls set aside as my gallery. It’s pretty exciting and a lot of fun.
And, on top of that, I hit Ikea and Michael’s in one afternoon! How many guys will admit to that?
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.