I don’t especially enjoy shopping. In that respect, I suppose I’m not the stereotypic female. But I just can’t shop with gladness in my heart. If I need something, I research it, go out and find it, then buy it. Then I can go home. Sometimes the finding of particular clothing or household items takes a while, which is frustrating, but generally that is how I shop.
Except for Ikea.
I like going to Ikea. Maybe even love it. Whatever. If someone ever suggests going to Ikea, I jump at the opportunity. Just ask PG. (He’ll tell you about this one Sunday morning when he made just that suggestion and I went from half-awake in bed to completely ready to go waiting at the door in under fifteen minutes. That was legendary.)
I’m not sure why I like/love Ikea so much. Maybe because when a store first opened in the Vancouver area, I was a teenager and just beginning to think about the fact that someday I’d have to move out of my parents’ house and pay for stuff myself. Ikea was the perfect place to dream in those days: cheap, funky, build-it-yourself furniture that was nothing like the heavy, traditional stuff that our parents owned. You could even toss the boxes in the back of your car (or your boyfriend’s pickup truck – yes, I actually dated a guy with a pickup truck once upon a time) and take it home right away. And put it together all by yourself. All you needed was an Allen wrench – oh, those Allen wrenches! I had an impressive collection of them at one time, all different sizes. They made me feel so grown-up, so independent!
Most of my friends and I lived about a fifteen-minute drive from that first Ikea store. We would go on a Sunday afternoon (which in itself was an adventure, as there were very few businesses open in Metro Vancouver on Sundays back in the late seventies-early eighties) and just wander around. The store wasn’t huge, especially compared to Ikea stores nowadays. But we could easily spend two or three hours there, oohing and aahing at each room display, trying out every couch and chair, sitting at every dining table, opening and closing every cupboard door and dresser drawer. Heaven!
Also, I’d been to Europe twice by that time, and the whole European lifestyle vastly appealed to me. Everything was more compact and multiple-usage and much less wasteful. Who needed a kitchen the size of an arena when Ikea could do one along one short wall? Why have a TV room entirely separate from your living room when Ikea could show you how to do it in one small and stylish room? European was automatically better than North American in my adolescent mind. Ikea epitomized that to me.
So Ikea and I have been hanging out together for many years now. Although I have since expanded my home furnishing purchases to include items from other retailers, I still own many items from Ikea. My dining room, for example, which consists of a table, four chairs, and a china cabinet, was bought at Ikea in 1981. People still look at it and admire its simple, classic lines and ask where I got it. When I tell them where – and also WHEN I got it – they are astonished and I feel good about my impeccable taste.
And now it’s DD’s turn. She is now dreaming of her own apartment and how she’ll furnish it. She is now collecting ideas and things for that eventuality. Ideas and things from Ikea. She and I spent a couple of hours there yesterday, wandering through the displays, and discussing colours and styles that we liked and disliked, what would work in our kitchen if (when?) I complete that renovation that I have been slowly working on for several years now. We bought a number of items for DD’s office, items that she can take with her when she moves out.