This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 16/03/2018.
13 things we have all discovered on our first ever trip to Croydon’s IKEA
We take a light-hearted look at some of the quirks you notice at one of Croydon’s most popular shops.
Meatballs and furniture, in whichever order you prefer. A trip to Ikea these days is seen as a bona fide weekend plan.
For some it’s hell, and for some it’s the epitome of heaven on earth. Room after room of endless furniture, utensils, house plants and herring – what more could you ever need?
Croydon’s IKEA is one of the borough’s most recognisable sites, with the two power station chimneys towering over anyone heading in for some furniture-filled fun.
One of the Advertiser’s newest reporters has just been to the store for the first time. Here’s 13 things that he noticed during his flat-pack baptism.
1. It isn’t hard to find
Google Maps and sat navs become utterly redundant on your journey to the IKEA warehouse. The two old power station chimneys, with IKEA’s colours at the top, mean it sticks out from the Croydon skyline.
It’s always good when someone asks you for directions and you can just point towards two giant chimneys and say “there”.
The chimneys have become synonymous with IKEA, and it’s a quirk that many customers enjoy.
2. You have to get a giant blue bag, even if you’ve only gone in to buy a candle
It’s the same as when you say you’re just popping out to buy milk. You come back with milk, a new hoover, three bags of frozen cod and a subscription to Amazon Prime.
It’s impossible to go into IKEA and buy one thing, especially as the shop is laid out in a way that means you have to see every single thing on sale before escaping.
But also, you need the blue bag as proof you’ve been, so you can talk to everyone you know about your eight-hour long trip.
3. Despite the arrows on the floor, it’s impossible not to get lost
This one’s pretty self explanatory. Follow the arrows and no-one needs to worry.
But then disaster strikes, you look at your phone to text someone to say you’re in IKEA, and when you look up, you’re in a completely different section, and you begin planning your life in the children’s furniture section along with the other poor souls that lost their way in 1997.
You’re also too stubborn to ask for directions, so you feign a look of confidence as you internally panic about finding your family. Once reunited, you pretend you were off looking at something, but in reality you vow never to leave their side again. Until next time, that is.
4. Even if you’re not buying a bed, you try out every single mattress
Well, you never know when you’re suddenly going to need a mattress and, after all, walking around IKEA is tiring and you need a lie down.
“This one is too hard, and this one is too soft,” you say, as you lie in increasingly uncomfortable positions.
For whatever reason, you don’t lie on the mattress in the position you sleep, but still feel this is the best way to gauge comfort levels.
There isn’t even a pillow, so the whole exercise is redundant, but it’s a tradition that will last through the ages.
5. Trying to pronounce Swedish words is hilarious
Yes, IKEA sell a lamp called “fartyg”, which, admittedly, is tremendously funny.
You walk up to an IKEA employee and ask for them to show you where to find the … and then you panic because you realise you have no idea how to pronounce “PJÄTTERYD”, so you end up pointing at the word like a chimpanzee.
Sometimes you plan ahead and have been going over the pronunciation in your head on the way to the warehouse, but when you ask for the item, you’re told it’s pronounced differently. Oh the shame.
6. You can never have enough meatballs
This is what you’ve really been looking forward to. Forget the lamp shades, the cheese slicers and the succulents, the canteen is the real reason you agreed to go.
It’s the one day of the year you say “Yes, I’d love some lingonberry jam.” What even is a lingonberry?
You eat at least 45 meatballs, and then tell the rest of your family you’ll catch up with them at the checkouts.
They also sell frozen meatballs, but they’re just not the same.
7. IKEA workers have arguably the worst uniform ever
It faces some stiff competition, but the bright yellow polo shirt has got to be one of the least flattering uniforms in the retail world.
Yellow is a pretty hard colour to pull off at the best of times.
If only IKEA had another colour associated with it that would look nicer…
8. The phone signal is terrible
The cause of tantrums and the bane of many parents’ lives. Handing your iPad to your child is the only way of getting through the trip without actually losing them on purpose and pretending to be sorry three hours later when you’re reunited at customer services.
So when your sweet child turns to you with the eyes of the devil, and says: “Mummy/Daddy, the game won’t work” you know you’re in for at least a few hours of hell as they touch every single item in the store and ask if they can have it.
No, we don’t need three new garlic presses.
9. Some of the plates are just too ‘out there’
You know the feeling, you’ve entered the kitchen section, and all you want is a nice set of white plates.
But wait a minute.
That plate is half black and half white, and that one over there is green. The temptation almost drives you insane, even though you know you’ll be ridiculed at your dinner parties if you serve chilli con carne on a stripy plate.
10. Who knew Swedish chairs were so comfortable?
I didn’t know true comfort until I sat in a “POANG” chair, it’s like sitting on a cloud.
I spent so much time sitting on that chair that by the time I got up, my family were at the checkouts wondering where I was. I ended up buying two, even though they’re entirely useless as office chairs.
The design of these chairs also baffles me, but you can’t argue with sheer comfort.
11. You wonder who needs a hot dog after going shopping
Not just in Croydon, but in alll IKEAs these days there seems to be a hot dog stand after the checkouts.
I’ve never finished shopping and thought “I really need a hot dog.”
You’ve just eaten a pile of meatballs bigger than your head, if you then decide you need a hot dog, you clearly didn’t eat enough meatballs.
12. You bring home a bag of Swedish food only to realise you haven’t eaten any from the last time you went
You’ve got your giant blue bag, now packed with seven jars of herring, some prawn flavoured soft cheese and a packet of crispy round bread.
The moment you get home, you put them in your cupboard and they’re never spoken of again.
Just don’t buy them. There are plenty of Swedes (like myself) living in Britain who need these things to keep us going. Please don’t take them away from us.
13. You buy three kitchen units and realise you’ve got a car the size of a postage stamp
During my visit, I bought a desk … and 12 other unplanned office items, only to realise that it didn’t fit in my car.
You look around the car park and see the countless other families attempting increasingly difficult flat-pack contortion.
But you don’t blame yourself for this. After all, it’s impossible to go to IKEA and not buy too much!