On the way to and from Charleston, we decided to stop in Charlotte, NC, to give us all a chance to get out of the car for a little while. On the way down, we stopped at the Apple store so my husband could get a new laptop. On the way home, we stopped at IKEA because I have never been to one. I have heard about IKEA for years and everyone always posts about IKEA finds, but I have never lived near a store so I have not had the chance to see what all of the fuss is about.
Now that I have been I am still not even sure how I feel about the experience. The Charlotte store is fairly new and I don't know if all IKEAs are like this or if it is just because the novelty hasn't worn off yet, but it felt sort of like we were stuck in an amusement park and in a herd of sheep and in a furniture store all at the same time. I think every single person that lives in Charlotte was at IKEA with us. The parking lot is HUGE but people were still parking on the street, across the street, in fields, etc. Once we finally got inside, there were escalators, elevators, food (we are talking a full-on cafeteria!), kiddie play areas, and lines of people as far as the eye could see. I think the only thing that outnumbered the amount of shoppers was the amount of employees - they were everywhere! (Good for you, IKEA - way to provide jobs in a tough economy!) Because of the layout of the store, we were pretty much forced to go through every single department to finally get to the exit. We discovered shortcuts after we had been there a while, but they are definitely hidden. We were pushing Riley in her stroller so that hindered our ability to maneuver around the masses of people standing dumbly in the middle of the walkways staring off into IKEA space. Eventually, Paul took Riley to go eat and I was left to browse on my own with the shopping cart. That presented a whole host of other problems - all four wheels on the carts swivel which I guess is supposed to give you more mobility. I could never seem to master driving the cart and most of the time I would end up pushing the cart sideways through the crowds when I was trying to push it straight ahead of me! I eventually abandoned my cart and went to find Paul. I figured if the cart and my stuff was still there when I got back, then I would buy it. If not, it was a sign that I didn't need it anyway.
This is turning into a long post - are you even still reading???
Well, we found our cart and our stuff was still there so I actually did get some good things. We bought new pillows for our bed. Of course there were hundreds of choices, but we both went with the GOSA RAPS pillow for side sleepers. I have to say, so far we are impressed - they are not too soft, not too firm and they fluff up in a way that fills up the pillowcase so they look good too. I also got some aluminum RIBBA picture frames, some white ceramic flower pots and some other little finds. When it came to the furniture I just couldn't get the idea of "dorm room" out of my head. A lot of the stuff was cute and if I was still in college or right out of college I would have been in heaven! But I am trying to slowly weed out all of the MDF furniture from my college days so I just didn't find anything that I was dying to have except for this little guy:
His name is ALEX. I have been looking for a cabinet or shelving unit to put inside of a closet in our sunroom to hold art supplies, fabric, paper, etc. This cabinet is great because it is pretty deep and wide so it holds large flat objects and it is on castors so I can wheel it out if I need to. It fits perfectly! It took my closet from this:
It was very easy to put together and came with all of its parts so I am pretty happy with it. Despite the madness of the crowds and the overwhelming size of the store, I am so glad I finally got to check IKEA out and I would definitely go back again. Even though the furniture isn't exactly what I am looking for, I think IKEA would be great for basic staples - white dishes, pillows, frames, fabric, kitchen utensils, etc. However, I think it is the type of place where I need to go in with a list - it is too massive for me to just browse. What do y'all think? Do you love or hate IKEA?