6 Things I Learned From My IKEA Crusade

6 Things I Learned From My IKEA Crusade

I don’t own any furniture. I don’t mean that in the poor hipster, “my mattress is on the floor because that’s what the Japanese do” kind of way, I just never got around to buying any when I moved out. My roommate had a lot of stuff he was bringing, my overpriced mattress came with a box spring, and my parent’s had an old dresser, so there was no need for new stuff. Furniture wasn’t on the long list of “Things I Need When I Get a Big-Boy Job,” and it fell way below “Pants That Actually Fit a 6’4” Guy Who Doesn’t Eat Enough” and somewhere in between “House Slippers” and “7-Speed Blender” (the latter became a no-brainer).

But it’s been a few years since then, and with some drastic life changes came time to find my own apartment, which in turn, has begged the need for actual furniture. I started at chain furniture stores, which were a complete waste of time. I don’t need two dressers, two night stands, and two mirrors. I’m in the market for a bed frame, one dresser, and maybe a nightstand. That being considered, and after exhausting all efforts at bogus places, IKEA was the only option left. If you go on a weekend, it’s a volunteer trip to hell. There are plenty of places I’d rather be than IKEA on a mid-day Saturday: Dahmer’s basement, Rebecca Black’s recording studio, Ted Kennedy’s passenger seat, Chernobyl, Vince Wilfork’s jockstrap, or Kim Kardashian’s mind. Any would suffice, because there is now a need to describe the absolute horror that is IKEA on a weekend.

I’ve made this mistake twice now, once because I was too indecisive about what I wanted, and the second time, because I didn’t want to take a vacation day to pick up furniture. Here is what I’ve learned in these two trips.

Get There Early Or Die

For some reason, every Saturday and Sunday is the ideal time for everyone in my state to get furniture. Most of the time, it’s college kids with their parents who just can’t decide on a futon. Or, it’s bored parents who think they need a new shelf system for their daughter’s bedroom and decided to take each and every one of their six, screaming brats with them while completely ignoring them because shelves are more important. You will spend at least twenty minutes finding a parking spot, which isn’t even a parking spot, it’s a patch of grass where a tree used to be. It takes at least another ten minutes to shuffle into the front door because those same parents are arguing in front of the daycare as to whether they should leave their kids with the others, but they decide against it because they’re morons and they probably make other poor parenting decisions like to not vaccinate stupid little Johnny who can’t stop drooling on the displays. All of this is can be avoided if you get there early, get in, get out, and drive away as quickly as possible. Don’t take your foot off the gas until you can no longer see blue and yellow in the rear view.

Kids All Day

I sincerely despise children, mainly because they’re not raised correctly these days. This generation, and the tail-end of Gen X, has unanimously decided that raising children to be courteous, polite, and quiet was what their parents did, and they refuse to be those same uncool geezers. Their solution is to be their child’s “best friend” and let their spawns terrorize every single public place they go. They run around, they scream, and they cry when their iPad batteries die. And what’s the parent’s response to that? Scream louder and cause a scene, and ruin everyone’s fucking day. When you’re at IKEA, it’s the perfect place to exhibit why you should have never taken yourself off birth control to begin with. While non-paternal couples and singles browse furniture, measure their sizes, and mind their own business, they’re tripping over your children and watching you do nothing about it. It’s like watching Monty Python’s “Every Sperm is Sacred” sketch in real life; you open a cabinet, and there are five children in there. There are no rules, so you have to look out for yourself. It’s like a toddler minefield, and you have to tip-toe from room-to-room, avoiding little hands and Goldfish crackers. Absolute bedlam.

The Meatballs Aren’t That Good

Everyone who I’ve ever talked to about IKEA has said, “Dude, you have to get the meatballs.” My own mother said, “Sweetie, get the meatballs, they’re fantastic.” Naturally, I paid eight dollars and change for the famous IKEA KÖTTBULLAR Meatballs, which really aren’t that great. I wouldn’t say “the meatballs suck, avoid at all costs,” but they’re more along the lines of “There’s a slight chance you’re going to regret these, and they’ll taste good going down.” Also, they never give you enough mashed potatoes. If you’re truly a glutton for punishment, get the Dryck Påsksmust “Festive Drink” with your meatballs. Enjoy the inevitable sadistic bathroom trip.

Don’t Buy the MDF

MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is essentially the main reason that IKEA is so cheap. It’s one of the materials, aside from particleboard, that they use to make a good amount of their furniture with. It sucks. You will never be able to take it apart without breaking it, and the “finish” on it will scuff if your cat rubs against it. If you take the extra two seconds on their website or in the store to look at the product details, you can weed out most of this stuff. There’s a small, but decent, amount of furniture that’s made of solid pine that they carry which is pretty solid. Not quite “furniture store” quality, but it’ll last longer, and you’ll be able to at least move it twice. Some people argue that MDF is just as good as furniture-grade plywood, but I sincerely doubt it. Proceed with caution.

Don’t Try To Pronounce the Names

IKEA’s Swedish naming convention is actually really cool, because every name is a simple Swedish word that correlates to something about the product. Sometimes it’s really simple, like FYRKANTIG, meaning “square” for a run of square candles, but SENSUELL means cooking pots, and PYSSLINGAR is a storage container of some kind. I don’t even know. I just follow the warehouse codes and directions, they’re in English.

Get the Checkout Hot Dogs and Cinnamon Buns

I don’t know if this is a general thing in stores across the US, but there’s a “food court” after the checkout lines right near the exit. Fifty-cent hot dogs and one-dollar cinnamon buns. These blow the meatballs straight out of the water, I don’t care who you are. My girlfriend only comes with me for the cinnamon buns, which invoke sounds of enjoyment that I’ve never heard from her…ever. They’re worth it, so get them. They’re messy though, and napkins are your friend.

Image via pcruciatti /

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Living for the weekend.

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