I..don’t…get it


I’ve even been to this Ikea and I just don’t get it. For a chance to win a dining table and chairs? Someone should tell them they have a 100% chance of having to put their furniture together themselves. And this is all for a remodeling? Psst….people, it’s all blue white and yellow inside with lots of affordable furniture.


I’m not a hater. I still own an IKEA dresser and got through some of my leaner years on IKEA furniture (and I still visit from time to time to load up on “stuff”). But it would never occur to me to camp out for either 1) furniture or 2) The IKEA shopping experience (I’m the person that recommends to my friends that they go when IKEA first opens Sunday morning to avoid the crushing mob).


Clearly an example of building customer evangelists, but I’m still not sure how. Maybe I’m just not the “camping out type”. Anyway, I find this pretty fascinating. Even more so if someone can explain it to me.


(Tip: Church of the Customer)

Comments (22)

  1. BobTurbo says:

    Lots of prizes…. something to do… entertaining.. what you make of it… event… social… community

  2. Josie Hertzog says:

    A friend was among the first 100 persons in line and got a BIG  box of cookware, made new friends, were generously offered coffee and free (good) cinnamon buns. That, for the hoi poloi (me included) sure is pretty fascinating. Bonus points: balmy 60s last night.

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, OK. But usually when people camp out for something there’s fan-dom (fanhood?) involved. They camp out for concert tickets bc they love a band or for Star wars tickets (I’m not going to pretend like I understand that). You know there’s some common uniting love andit’s not like, furniture.

    I guess I just didn’t know that there was such intense IKEA love out there. If these folks wanted to go camping they could have gone up to the Wisconsin Dells or something. They are camping out for IKEA and I need to know why! Are the swedish meatballs that good? Do they have an intense need to organize their closets? There’s a story here and I don’t think we have it yet.

  4. I think it’s a subset of customer evangelists.

    The reasons why people camped out in front of that Ikea are probably very similar to why people ammped out in lines to buy Windows 95 (back in the day) and Xbox 360: Evangelism, curiosity and rebellion.

    The last item is probably key because they do what 99% of other people would not. They’re the One Percenters.

  5. BobTurbo says:

    I have heard the Swedish meatballs are very nice. OK I really don’t know why these people would camp out. I can understand the "event" and it being popular, because grand openings of stores with prizes, activities, and the store being noteworthy and possibly bigger or better than any furniture store ever before are all event-worthy features.

    I would just guess that these people who are camping out have little money and a lot of time? Or the prizes are extremely good. I mean it can’t be compared to tickets at a concert because they can just make more furniture right? Maybe the furniture was taken from the home of a rock star? Or maybe, the kids, who don’t have any money, wanted to camp out and win their parents some furniture to impress them, but then the parents said "hey your not camping out there alone" and they all camped out and lived happily ever after.

    I am willing to beleive any one of those scenarios.

    Oh wait a sec………… I think their was a 50% off sale. There you go. They were all rushing to get the furniture before it went as well. Buying an entire lounge and bedroom suite would save a lot of money.

    http://info.ikea-usa.com/chicagomidsummer/

  6. Wine-Oh says:

    Random Ikea’isms:

    -While I think the idea and concept of IKEA is cool, (I saw one in China in March) I do not hang out or frequent it.

    -I have one Ikea rug that I love but getting it home is a story unto itself.

    -I was in NJ yesterday and stumbled upon an Ikea randomly without thinking it was there. I kept driving:).

    -I have a friend in Chicago who furnished and remodeled her house courtesy of the Ikea in Schaumberg. She went any time she had a free minute.

    -Another friend in Atlanta goes to Ikea for lunch from work because its less expensive and better than the cafeteria food where he works. (I dont get it either)

    -To me to run in to get 1 thing and to have to go through the whole store, is maddening. With my luck that item is in the last part of the store before you check out.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    Josie-thanks for sharing that. The cookware sounds great. Balmy 60s in July in chicago sound really nice…like maybe Taste of Chicago won’t be as sticky as it usually is (if the weather lasts).

    Ben-I can understand enthusiasts for feature-based products a little more. I didn’t think of IKEA products that way but I’ll try ; ) Frankly, the fact that the have garnered this kind of enthusiasm from people makes me like the company more.

    Bob-I was thinking college students that needed free stuff

    Wine-Oh- I feel similarly. If I go (maybe once a year), I defnitely make a day out of it. I get up Sunday AM, stop off for a latte and am there when the doors open so I can actually take some time looking around. I always end up taking stuff home and rugs and curtains are favorites. If I go at any other time, I find that the number of poor caret drivers, people not looking where they are going and folks with kids runniong buck wild far exceed other stores. So if I can’t get there early, I don’t go.

    I just got a dresser delivered last week and even mentioned to the delivery guy how excited I was to get my first, new, non-Ikea dresser (mostly because I have a great walk-in closet).

    Getting the Ikea stuff home can be a challenge and I think I’ve finally reached that point in my life where I would rather pay more than have to put furniture together by myself. I think I learned a big lesson with my adirondack chairs that took a whole weekend.

    They are having their

  8. Balmy for the Taste of Chicago? Nope! Never is, never will be. The Taste jinxes our weather. It’s nearly 11 p.m. here on the first day of the Taste, and the temp is 86 and humid.

  9. BobTurbo says:

    I think they were camping out because that is how the prizes were given out, first in line get the prizes. And the people were either college students moving out of home or, the other people were just poor and wanted to win the dining set.

    And time is money. I probably earn 1/10 of what you earn Heather 😉 and I still would not be willing to sacrifice my time. But if they had something I liked (not very often) I would put it together. Although, I think you can pay them to do that.

    When you think about this whole putting it together idea, if the person buying the product wastes more resources (time and potential wages) on putting it together than the experienced, lower paid assemblers, then it is economically inefficient and therefore I say IKEA is bringing down the entire world economy!

    They are going against the idea of specialisation and should be stopped before the world economy halts. Even college students are not specialists at assembling furniture and should better spend their time at parties enriching the social fabric of society.

  10. Wine-Oh says:

    Dont know if anyone saw a rerun of the Amazing Race last night on Game Show Network. But it was from a couple years ago and the challenge took place at an Ikea in Sweeden. Which happens to be the worlds largest one. (they are all large).

    It was the season with the pro wrestlers and the husband and wife team who belonged in therapy and anger management, Jonathan and Victoria .  Anyway the challenge was to count all these different items or to assemble some desks. Both tedious. If you counted it had to be the exact number of items. They consisted of pots and pans and teddy bears. Mind numbing if you ask me.

    The desk you had to assemble and couldnt have any extra parts. If it was me I would have extra parts. I sat there going this is why I dont shop there. I would pay extra to have someone assemble things and install them for me.

  11. Tim says:

    People love that sort of stuff. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve waited in line for something like that since I was a kid and stood outside the theater 2+ hours for the first Star Wars movie. I don’t know if you’re like me, Heather, but the bigger the city, the less I like crowds. We find off times to do everything, from grocery shopping to movie going.

  12. Two words Heather – Marketing Power. That’s my answer to Heather’s "Does not Get it" question when she…

  13. Herb says:

    I wouldn’t recommend IKEA furniture Heather. I have the firsthand experience of an animal jumping on top of one of their coffee tables. The sharp corners left a nasty gash on my pooch’s front leg. Damn you IKEA *shakes fist.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    Ben-I remember going to "the Taste" and having one of those unfortunate sweating episodes where you stop caring what you look like. The heat and humidity combined with rib smoke…well, all you can do is survive and eat.

    Bob-that’s funny. I assure you that you make more than 1/10 of what I make! I know you were kidding but let me set your mind to rest…if you are envisioning me sitting in a fully decorated, spacious house with a three car garage and expansive yard…well, that ain’t it.

    Actually your points about the economy are good ones. I often don’t take my shopping cart back into the grocery store because I want to support the economy.

    Wine-Oh, I remember that one (I loved the retired couple!). You know that is an interesting study in product placement. If you were IKEA, would you want to highlight the difficulties of putting together a desk?

    Tim-I am with you on that. Crowds and traffic….ugh. I cna’t imagine what it’s like with small kids. I get cranky enough myself.

    Pradeep- I’m not sure what you mean by "Marketing Power"…that sounds like more of a buzz word than the answer to why these people would sit outside overnight to win inexpensive stuff. Please explain.

    Herb-I wouldn’t recommend letting your dog jump on your coffee table! Poor poochy. I don’t allow Jonas to get on the furniture. Sometimes he does (get onthe couches) when I have left theh house, but he has the good sense to be sneaky about it. I will say that when I have bought IKEA furtniture in the past, one variable has been the amount of care I took in building it. Some efforts were better than others. Another thing I found is that once built, it’s best to leave it where it is (whatever it is). Because of how it’s built with the pegs and stuff, it’s best not to drag the peice around the house as it pulls the wood peices away from the pegs. At this point, I have only one peice of IKEA furniture…the dresser in my guest bedroom.

  15. Paul says:

    As in most communities, people who don’t belong don’t get it.

    Although many of us have bought cheap utilitarian furniture there at some point (hey, we were all poor starving students once, for whom Ikea approximated a high-end replacement for milk cartons and bricks and boards), most of us never saw it as anything more.  But Ikea was one of the original marketers of an experience and a social community – ideas that we assume now that Starbucks invented.

    I think there is a certain bunch of social-cause leaning, tree-hugging, granola-chewing, left-over hippies for whom Ikea represents a different way of viewing the world, and who strongly identify with the company the same way that Springsteen fans maniacly follow him around from concert to concert sometimes hitting more than 50 shows in a single tour (I know a guy who did over 100 shows in a tour a few years back, sometimes driving 700-800 miles between shows to catch them all).

    alt explanation:  Shills hired by some buzz marketing company to pretend they were excited about the products and camp out to get local news coverage.  It’s pretty much a polar opposite to the above community ethos, but just as plausible.

    Or, it could have been the free stuff, and lack of something more interesting to do in Schaumburg.  (Wasn’t the cooking — even diehard Swede-ophiles don’t claim their cooking is anything to write home about.)  Who can say for sure?  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    I didn’t know Ikea was considered "hippie". I might resemble your description too much (I’m not a hippie, fashion wise, but I’m an avid recycler)…never thought "social-cause leaning" had a negative connotation associated with left over hippies. Maybe I need to get out more. Yet another thing I don’t get. I’d assume tree-huggers would take issue with the concept of disposable furniture. Hmm, perception is a weird thing I guess

  17. Paul says:

    No implied negative connotations.  Just a demographic type.  You are too young (by at least 10 years) to fit the profile, although from descriptions you’ve given of yourself, you may fit it other ways.  

    Don’t forget that times change, and with times go perceptions.   It was about simplicity, not disposability.  And, anticonsumerism (i.e. inexpensive, unfashionable, minimalist).  And, about buying Swedish products as a statement, because Sweden was one of the original socialist democracies.  The same people bought Volvos in the 1970s for many of the same reasons, although the people that buy them today are quite different.

    When IKEA first came to North America (it was in Canada almost 10 years before it came to the US because they originally didn’t see a niche for the stores here, and the products all had funny foreign-sounding names that were unappealing to US ears)  the people that initially gravitated to them fit two demographics – students, and "liberals"  (broadly defined, not specifically a political term).  Students generally reached a point in their lives where they grew out of it, but liberals never did.  Hence the association, although it is much weaker today than it was 20 years ago.

    Regarding disposability, that too is a perception more than a reality.  Most people of means don’t keep better-built and more durable furniture any longer than IKEA things are kept, it’s just that IKEA seems flimsier.  But, I have a table, which was a kitchen table for me 25 years ago, and now serves as a craft/work/play table for my kids, and it is still going strong.

    So, it is possible for you to be a neo-hippie (modern-day granola chewing liberal :-)), but not share a community love for all things IKEA.  Anyway, it was just one of 3 possible explanations.  The more I think about it, the more I think they just came to get free stuff.

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    Haha…granola has too much sugar for me. I eat unsweetened Muesli, despite the difficulty pronouncing the name. I drive a totally uncool but utilitarian Toyota Rav 4 that gets great gas mileage and I love antiques, but mostly just ones handed down to me. I may have hugged a tree once but I was most certainly joking. I’m an active consumer that detests packaging and recycles. I don’t buy aerosol hairspray, but I own about 50 pair of shoes. I make regular drops at the Salvation Army and then fill my closet up with more clothes. I just cancelled my organic produce delivery service. I won’t live without TV. I hate camping!

    How do I fit into your demographics now? ; )

  19. Paul says:

    Well, apparently you wear flip flops to work, and eat all manner of multi-grain breads.  You pride yourself on being free-thinking, and do "environmental" when society offers the choice or makes it easy.

    You favor a big homey dog, and I’m just guessing, but I’ll bet that you’ve probably thrown a frisbee or two his way. and when too busy, you run biology projects in your kitchen that require an entire day of cleaning and yet still the smell persists.

    You wear Uggs!!!!  You are avoiding processed foods and cancelling organic delivery doesn’t mean you don’t prefer it, just that you don’t see the point in having it delivered.  Safeway out, Whole Foods in.

    You reject silly consumerist excesses like Chocolate Fountains and Pasta Expresses.  You will wear a messy ponytail when you’re in a hurry and more finicky grooming seems like a waste of time.  And, you always go for the underdog.

    How am I doing so far?

    The fact that you make regular drops at the Sally Ann puts you in a distinct minority, and while commendable, that alone almost makes you a tree hugger (joking or not).

    And Muesli?  Come on.  Americans barely know what Muesli is.  That’s borderline communist.  (I had a great uncle whose wife was the first feminist I ever knew back in the 60s, and she was also the first person I knew that ate Muesli.  My parents thought it was some weird and unclean European thing.  Definitely showing your colors there.)

    So, as to buying too many shoes and cycling through clothes? — nobody said you were Mother Theresa.  We are all guilty of something.

    I’ll stick with neo-hippie.  Not a flower child, mind you.  Probably not a draft dodger, or consumer of psychedelic pharmaceuticals either.  But beneath that capitalist exterior, there’s a person of intense earnestness and caring and ethics over capitalism.  You even admit to having owned some IKEA stuff.

    The important thing is, you don’t get why any sane person would spend the night in an IKEA parking lot to be first in line to buy a Jerker for your computer and a Traktor to sit on, and neither do I.

  20. HeatherLeigh says:

    Mmm hmmm, you just ran some computer program to pull all that stuff off my blog ; )

    Let’s call my segment "Avid consumer with a guilty environmental conscience". Based on your description, people are probably imaginging me with hairy legs and Birkenstocks on all day. And that ain’t me. I do own Birks but rarely wear these days (flip flops are easier because I don’t care if they get wet). No Patchoulli, no tie-dye. Lots of cute shoes with heels.

    As for the Muesli thing…do you know how hard it is to find a granola type thing that isn’t loaded with sugar? I just read a lot about nutrition. Nobody should take it as a political statement though. I’m just an adventurous eater when it comes to everything except meat (and I’ve gotten to the point where I view most food as fuel…Muesli is good fuel). I’m not one of those people that won’t go to restaurants…not that picky.

  21. Paul says:

    Sure.  Sure.

    I say if the shoe fits, wear it.  Or, all 50 of them if you must.

    And no, no programs.  I’m not that smart.  I just have a good memory.  It comes in handy for playing parlor games, and freaking people out at parties.

  22. HeatherLeigh says:

    That would freak people out.