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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Monday, August 08, 2005

All This and Meatballs, Too?

This past weekend I took my first ever journey to an IKEA. There aren't that many IKEA's in America (28 according to their website), so chances are you haven't been to an IKEA yet, ever either. As for the rest of you, I can't really speak for other countries. If you do have the chance to visit IKEA though, I would highly recommend it.

But first I'm going to admit something about my own stupidity before I go any further. Are you ready? I had no idea IKEA was a Swedish company. I mean now that I think about it, it makes sense, I guess I just never thought about it before.

Up until now there were very few things I could say with certainty that were "Made In Sweden". The pop group Abba is one. Ace of Base is another. Swedish fish are tasty, but the Swedish Chef is perhaps my favorite Swedish staple. Everyone knows Germans love David Hasselhoff, but that's not important now. No, after that short list, I've got nothing.

So imagine my surprise when I walked in to an IKEA and was bombarded with Swedish references. Remember how I wanted to learn Spanish? Well little did I know how much of a foreign language I could pick up when looking for a simple ottoman. See at IKEA, everything is labeled with its English name, but right next to it is is also its Swedish name. So if I ever go to Sweden and want to converse about lodging or home improvement, I think I could hold my own, with a nifty little IKEA cheat sheet that is.

On top of all the great international relations, IKEA also had some kick ass prices. We looked at everything from dressers, to bed frames to area rugs. All of it was in a word, CHEAP. Now since this was my first time at an IKEA I can't speak for their everyday prices. But then again, I don't think there was some huge quasi sale going on. You know, the ones where furniture stores pretend they are going out of business and EVERYTHING. MUST. GO.? Yeah, there was none of that IKEA. Just some fine, fine wood and ceramic, made by the lovely Swedes.

This particular IKEA also had a lovely presentation. The store was two floors. The first floor had all of the merchandise to buy, the second floor had all the merchandise on display. So the idea was you'd go upstairs, check out their Trading Spaces like demo and decide you just have to have that. Its ingenious marketing really. Once you've found the item you want you simply go back down to the first floor and find it in the corresponding aisle. It's all that easy.

But I haven't even told you the best, albeit, most unusual part of the IKEA experience. IKEA has food. Not just food, IKEA has an actual restaurant in their store. So you find yourself looking at kitchen sinks and suddenly feel a craving for ice cream? No problem. IKEA's got it covered. Seeing is believing and trust me, this alone is worth the trip.

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking what's the big deal? My local Target has a little place where I can pick up fries or a pretzel. You're right. Most stores nowadays do. But how many independent stores offer you the chance to purchase a sectional sofa AND a salmon dinner in the same establishment? Not many my friends, not many. Oh and the average cost for a full fledged, fancy sounding meal? $5.00. The fact that you were at a place that offered such goodies to begin with? Priceless.

In conclusion, if I haven't convinced you to visit an IKEA sometime in this lifetime then I don't know what will. All I know is when and if I ever get married one day, I'm totally kicking the registry with IKEA. Sure most of my friends probably don't live within a 50 mile radius of one, but there's always online shopping, and of course, the all purpose gift card.

If not, maybe, just maybe, the promise of delicious meatballs while you shop will help seal the deal.



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