ikeaYa gotta love the Swedes. I mean, the whole cool blonde thing aside, they make some pretty cool stuff. Like Saab…”Made from Jets.” That’s cool. And Volvo, the world’s safest car (although why they build safe cars when they have the world’s highest suicide rate is beyond me). And Ikea. We pause here for a moment of reverence.

Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnayrd. There, now you know. Not that you ever wanted or need to, but still, there you have it. Still means nothing to you, right? Here’s a bit of history. It was started in 1943 by a 17 year old kid named Ingvar Kamprad, from a farm called Elmtaryd in the parish of Agunnayrd. Still means nothing to you right? Well, me neither. What I do know, however, is that this global corporation is the world’s biggest furniture retailer. What began in Sweden, Norway and Denmark has now seen growth in China, Australia and Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. What do you need?  Beds and mattresses, chairs, desks, highchairs, dinnerware, flatware, pots and pans, faucets and sinks, table lamps, floor lamps, wall lamps, the lamp Paul Revere used to warn of the British invasion, hangers and hooks, bangers and mash, modular sofas, leather sofas, sofa beds, Sophia Loren, CD and DVD cases, book cases, cold cases, cases of beer, TV and media solutions, global warming solutions, and a partridge in a pear tree. And what to do when a weary shopper needs nourishment to continue those long treks down aisle after aisle of goodies? Pizza? Nah. Hot dog? C’mon. How about Swedish meatballs and lingonberry jam?  Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

And now I am going to reveal to you the real, true, concrete reason why Ikea is the world’s largest and most successful furniture retailer. You can’t get out of the store. There are arrows and aisles that lead to nothing but…wait for it…more stuff. “Look, honey, lamps! Maybe we could throw another item onto the cart” (which now, by the way, is packed tighter than a homeless guy’s). They actually designate this one way layout “the long natural way.” You wander around the store looking for a cash register but all you find is another row of bakeware and bathroom accessories. It’s the most ingenious and devilish scheme of retailing ever invented. I’m tellin’ ya…ya gotta love the Swedes.

Port Elizabeth

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