Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I predict a few others will blog about this too

So, it appears as though all of my random rants and rambles hard work has finally paid off. I got one of the coveted media invites to the pre-grand-opening shindig at the new IKEA; which, for the record my iphone still doesn't recognize as a "real" word. Apple, IKEA - you two should talk.

Now, being a Winnipegger and loving pretty much all things free and the invite specifically specified cocktails (one of my favourite free things ever) I was in. I also didn't know if I was going to make it to IKEA otherwise; I don't enjoy battling crowds and waiting in lines to be able to spend my dollars - this is also why I have never been a big fan of "the bar". To be fair, I also don't need anything really, if I was in the market for some furniture I would probably lean towards IKEA over any other retailer in terms of new furniture. The earth tones that dominate the furniture at the other big box stores kind of make me a little nauseous.

IKEA, unless you somehow have missed their general concept, offers mass produced furniture, often in quirky colours, frequently with sleek lines, that will supposedly hold up better than your average put-it-together-yourself type furniture. I even downloaded their free tool for designing your own kitchen a while back as I figured I was more of a high gloss cabinet sort of girl then shades of brown, beige and marble that you typically find at the big box places.

I have been to IKEA before, like many Manitobans I have been to the stores in Calgary, Edmonton and Minneapolis (and like probably few Manitobans, the one in Reykjavik, Iceland). Wandering the maze, and it is a maze (on purpose) of idyllic rooms I mostly just end up dreaming of highly organized spaces. Those Scandinavians have turned maximizing space into an artform.

Here are my thoughts on Winnipeg's IKEA store after last night (some are specific to Winnipeg, some just to the brand)
  • First and foremost: WARNING!! Unless you are in the restaurant don't expect to be able to use your mobile phone. Most of the building is a dead zone. I see this as problem in every way except IKEA needing to worry their staff are texting all day at work. How are you supposed to snap a pic and send it to someone asking if you should buy it or not?
  • A COCKTAIL reception should have COCKTAILS. I mean, thanks for the beer and wine, but I have the drink tastes of a 14 year old - where was the funky blue drink with pineapple (yellow) garnish?? But seriously, thanks for the invite, I had fun.
  • IKEA needs to sell the cord hiding strip that they use to hide their own cords on their displays. Dangling cords are unattractive and that cord hiding stuff is hard to find (Home Depot/Rona sells some but it's not as nice as the stuff they had at IKEA).
  • There needs to be more "all-in" pricing. The beauty of their products is also one of the drawbacks. There are seemingly endless combinations of products and it is common to see for example, two medicine cabinets set up next to each other (effectively looking like one) and then with add on lights and perhaps other bits and bobs. By the time you add it all up the $300 cabinet is actually $800. It's like car commercials that tell me that their car is only $13,995 - by the time you actually have a model that anyone wants it's more like twenty grand.

Perfectly organized now, but what is it going to look like on a Saturday?

I think it will be interesting to see how clean they are able to keep the store - all those slushy boots tracking through the store will be hard to keep up with. Also, making sure that things stay well stocked and organized down on the main floor will be really important; assuming the chaos that will surely ensue for the next few months they don't want to feel like a tacky Walmart with empty shelves like there was some sort of doorcrasher special.

A discount section before the store officially opens? Classic Winnipeg!

An interesting topic filled the local twitterverse last night regarding the potential conflict of interest in offering media types a preview that involved a swag bag and 15% discount. I think it seemed a little far reaching - no one was forcing the paid media types to purchase anything and they certainly could have turned down the goodie bag at the end if they felt that it might be misconstrued.  I don't recall hearing the same comments when media attended the VIP Cinemas on McGillivray last month, enjoying free food and drink. There was also no requirement attached to the invitation requiring anyone to mention the store one way or the other.

I'm really glad I got to go last night, I don't imagine I will go for quite some time now as seeing the crush of people desperate to buy buy buy will probably just stand to make me question and regret my own place in the heaving cycle of consumerism and I have enough guilt associated with my love of driving (factor in that I would have no choice but to drive to IKEA and I don't think I could keep my meatballs down!)

A Winnipeg exclusive - the Penis Bridge picture!

Oops... someone forgot to take the tag off of a prop!

For future reference, should anyone like to invite me to an event, ply me with food and drinks and give me a goodie bag at the end, I have no moral issues with that, but no promises about sunshine and roses if I blog about it. As for IKEA, don't worry Winnipeg, you'll like it, but don't forget to shop local too - in fact, Winnipeg has a number of furniture manufacturers that produce their stuff right here.

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