August 26, 2006

IKEA is a Zoo

When I moved to Belmont just after graduating from UC Berkeley in 1999, I certainly didn't have a whole lot of furniture, having been a starving student, so I started over from scratch - buying a new desk, a new bookcase, and a new dresser, assembling each at the apartment, after somehow squeezing them into my small car, and lugging them up three flights of stairs. While the desk didn't follow me along to my next two moves, the dresser and bookshelf did, so they've given me about 7 years of good service - at least until my dresser began to fall apart, making the morning's search for socks just that much more memorable each day.

After a few weeks of going into the other room to get my things out of each drawer individually, my wife and I set out to a number of different stores on the peninsula to see if we could find a good-quality solution for something less than what we pay each month on our mortgage. At our first stop, one of the more-promising dressers was $650, while others were $999 or above, and some peaked at $1,500. Our next two stops weren't much better. In fact, one store didn't have much below $2,000, which seemed a little steep for something I couldn't live in, drive around or surf the Web on. That left IKEA as one last stop. I was skeptical, knowing the low-price leader is often the high-crap leader, and it was certain to be a not-so-exciting experience.

After making our way through a series of parking garages, we entered the IKEA maze as hamsters in a Habitrail, missing only the sawdust and an exercise wheel. Packed in like sardines into narrow walkways, with arrows telling us which way to go, we darted past bunkbeds and stoves or dining sets, past housewares and beanbag chairs, to find anything that resembled a dresser - and to our surprise, we did find some options after all. They weren't nearly the quality of the previous stores, but the prices, in the range of $149 to $249, were significantly less. And as my wife has now mentally committed to our purchasing flat-screen TVs for the house, that's where any of our available money should go, not just a glorified wooden box for shirts, socks and pants.

Though we chose a good dresser, we didn't much feel like dragging it out of the store, packing it in the car, and taking it up the stairs today. But we marked it down, and will try IKEA's catalog or online store, and make someone else do the grunt work. But I am not so sure I want to step inside an IKEA again - to be pushed through like schools of fish among the masses, in a claustrophobic mess of wood, bright paint and screaming kids. I'd rather throw my things in cardboard boxes than do that.

Listening to ''Envio - Time to Say Goodbye'', by Armin Van Buuren (Play Count: 3)

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