April 8th, 2011

Rose-coloured reviews the North York Ikea on a Sunday Afternoon

Here at last, my post-move post:

So we moved on Thursday and Friday, and contrary to popular belief (mine) it was not a nightmare. Mainly due to awesome friends on day one, and awesome professional movers on the second, the move went off efficiently, quickly, and painlessly.

However, moves do drive home the horrors of capitalism, and the new apartment is completely engulfed with boxes of stuff, stuff of dubious necessity. Nevertheless, as every post-move euphoric does, we went out in search of more. More specifically, everyone goes to Ikea right after they move, and so did we.

I had wanted the cheap-o breakfast at the Ikea restaurant, but we were held hostage at home by the Bell guy until early afternoon (how sadly typical is that?) By the time we parked in the enormous upper deck of the North York Ikea parking lot, crossed the lot, took the elevator to the other lot, clammered along the sidewalk past the loading zone, and on into the store, we were ravenous and headed directly to the restaurant.

So, apparently, did everyone else in the universe. The place was huge, so not every table was taken, but it was a siege of people, a good 50% of them seeming to be little children going bananas. This was generally the theme of the afternoon–large familes, good-naturedly shepherding their absolutely ballistic offspring through a maze of ottomans and loveseats. I swear, I did not see very many people seriously considering the furniture; it appeared to simply be an excursion, like Disneyworld. I can’t say that I understand.

Except about the food: Ikea food is good, cheap, and plentiful, which I suppose makes it perfect for little ones. However, the long lines are less ideal. The fellow in front of us had adorable twin girls, about 3, who passed their ten minutes in line swinging from the cutlery dispenser, bapping each other on the head, shrieking for their mother (who was apparently elsewhere in the restaurant; wise woman), and yanking chocolate milks off the display. My favourite part was when the dad told one girl she was not allowed to have the milk, she simply let it fall to the floor.

The above sounds like I was super-irritated but I wasn’t; the dad was very sweetly doing his best to keep a handle on them (and he picked up the milk), and they weren’t really bad for 3-year-olds in a giangantic line. I was quite content to watch the show, and then scurry off to my own, quieter, table.

My dining companion and I had identical salmon dinners with a side crepe, and dalm cake for dessert, so I can only describe the one meal, but it was pretty amazing for cafeteria food. The salmon was a trifle firm and pink, and the stuffing, which could not be identified, was the same texture and flavour as the actual fish, but it was all very tasty. I had expected the sauce, bright yellow with bits of herbs in it, to be mustardy, but the dominant flavour was butter. Good, but very rich–I guess those Nordic peoples need to be well-insulated from the cold.

The vegetables were very fresh and crunchy, and nice bright colours, always a good sign. There were also these small white pucks of, I think, finely chopped cauliflower and brocolli, cemented together with vaguely cheesy mashed potatoes–again, tasty, not healthy.

We could not locate tea bags and the fountain pop was too syrupy even for me (shock!) but the dalm cake was amazing. I think it’s actually a torte, being gluten-free and built of layers of nut-crumbs, marzipan, and chocolate. Astounding.

Also, there was some furniture. Lots and lots of it, actually, and we dutifully followed the trail through the whole store, albeit rather quickly. I hadn’t been to Ikea in perhaps 3 years, and it seemed to me there was a lot more customizable stuff now–modular offices and bits of kitchens and other things that you would need to have professionally installed. This seemed a bit high-end for the Ikea I know and love.

The regular stuff was as shiny and bright and tempting as ever. I always want their very simple couches and loveseats covered in brightly coloured canvas. They are so charming and cheap, though I have no need of any such thing. They looked as lovely as ever this time, and I contemplated jamming one into the bathroom or something. Right at the end of the trip, Mark suggested we get a bench for the patio with stripy cushions, so that helped mitigate my desire for plush furniture…somewhat.

I also picked out a dresser, after *mucho* agony, because I had failed to measure depth of the space it is supposed to go in. There is not, in truth, a wide variety of dresser depths at Ikea, so eventually I just chose the thinnest one (Malm, 6 drawer), only to discover on the back of the tag that it is supposed to be *bolted to the wall* to prevent it falling over on me. Who does that? I would guess that many people buying Ikea furniture lack the energy, organization, drill, and landlord permission to do such a thing; was this warning a ruse to forstall insurance issues?

I asked a salesperson and she said of course I had to bolt it to the wall (with an “I am talking to a dumb person” face on); otherwise, if I opened multiple drawers at once, it would fall on me. I said, “What if I just open one drawer at time?” and she said that might be all right, but if I had babies, it would need to be bolted in. Babies open drawers now? How terrifying.

The best bit, as always, was the Marketplace down on the first floor. It was actually strangely hard to find the door–it was ill-marked–but then we found it and there it was in all its glory! Thousands of small inexpensive items that I might someday need! I might have gone into a buying frenzy if I weren’t so very tired; as it was we found hangers, a laundry hamper, a drainboard, and possibly something else that I forget, all of which needed to be lugged around for the rest of our stay in the store.

The marketplace was very crowded; this is where most of the actual shopping goes on, it seems. Here I actually did see people looking at merchandise, although the primary activities still seemed to be milling and yelling. It was pretty chaotic–I didn’t realize kitchenware was over until long after we were into plants, and I probably would’ve bought more stuff if I had found a cart earlier in the process. It was always kind of fun to be wandering around and see someone carrying the same thing I was–merchandise twins.

The self-serve warehouse was a nightmare. My bureau came in two separate boxes of parts. Box 2 was on top of the stack, but all the Box 1s were buried deep. Everything was extremely heavy, and at least 5 boxes had to be hauled into the aisle by my esteemed companion, while I hovered around, fretting (nothing like household goods to bring on the gender roles!) There was a brief consideration of reassembling the stack, but if the Ikea folks wanted things left tidy, they should have ordered them better.

I would’ve liked to go to the As-Is department (I’ve found some good stuff there) but the cart was so heavy we could barely pilot it, and the crowd at the checkout lines was sort of blocking the way. While waiting in line I went to the pop machine and returned, went to the bathroom and returned, and then Mark went off to the hysterical blur of the food market and bought some Ikea cookies for a dear friend with a gift for assembling furniture (and some for us–I’d never had them before and it turns out they are fantastic!!) When Mark was returning with the cookies, I finally reached the very bored and unhappy cashier, who grimly rang us out and we were free to go.

The trek back was shorter–the exit is closer to the upper parking deck than the entrance, and after a lot of Jenga-ing the boxes into the car, we were on our way.

As this is a review of the *experience* of the Ikea store, I won’t dwell on the furniture, and anyway, most of it is still disassembled. The laundry hamper is doing just fine, but I guess standards for a laundry hamper are low–probably a cardboard box would’ve sufficed, really. The drainboard was a dismal bust, as it does not fit in the sink and is constantly flipping sideways. But it did only cost $3. The cookies are almost gone. But the memory of the happy chaos at Ikea will live forever.

2 Responses to “Rose-coloured reviews the North York Ikea on a Sunday Afternoon”

  • AMT says:

    fascinating discovery: reading this post, which brilliantly encapsulates the Platonic Ikea experience, has completely resolved my recent overwhelming desire to go to Ikea, even though i have no actual need for anything they might sell me.

    thus have you saved me a day and a lot of money with your bloggy lit. thank you, RR!


  • Rebecca says:

    I am so happy to perform this public service!


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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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