IKEA obsessed

Gone are the days of catalogue parties. No more will you need to beg your friend from Edmonton to strap a couch to the roof of their car as they road-trip to Winnipeg. No longer will you need to guess colours based on the computer screen. Yes, it is finally no longer a rumour — IKEA is coming. The anticipation has been killing you and seeing the project begin brought butterflies to your stomach like a school girl crush. You’ve been swooning over the bright blue box-store. Kenaston Common will be the latest home of the Swedish-born furniture store, but really what’s all the craze about? And will the love affair last when we have easy access to the cheap furniture that we crave and the inexpensive decor that we have convinced ourselves we desperately need? Or is this a long distance relationship that only worked because absence really did make the heart grow fonder?

Like many Winnipeggers, I loved visiting other cities and visiting the IKEA stores. I lounged on the couches, opened all the drawers in the display kitchens and took a 30-second cat nap one of the beds. But now I’ll be able to do that right here on my own stomping grounds. There have always been small upsurges of excitement over rumours that IKEA would finally be coming to Winnipeg, but like the return of the Jets, often these rumours were just that: rumours. However, the end of November marked the beginning of construction for the IKEA project which has the opening guessed at late 2010 to early 2013. With most projects, this means, don’t expect it open ‘til late 2013!

The thing is, if you’ve ever bought a bigger item from IKEA like a couch or bed, you know that there isn’t a lot of quality. You get what you pay for, but the love affair with IKEA is based on finding a great deal. It’s easy to think that the chair in the catalogue will look great in your living room, that the couch is a great buy, or the bed an awesome deal. However, when you sit your fat arse on that couch more than once you notice the dent in the cushion, and after your seven-year old cousin jumps on your lap while you sit in your new chair, the leg bends. The pictures do their job; you can’t develop a clear picture on the quality from the well put together scene they display on their webpage or in the flyer. Will people still be as enthralled when they can touch and feel the items they are purchasing?

While I’m not convinced this is a great move on IKEA’s part, I think it’s a great sign that Winnipeg is doing well. The projects that surround this construction project, like the possible condo, hotel, theatre and skating rink, are sure to generate a lot of buzz. The whole project will take about 12 years to complete, and I’m definitely excited to see the Kenaston project, dubbed “Seasons at Tuxedo,” grow, despite thinking outdoor malls make little-to-no sense in a bitter cold city like Winnipeg. I doubt, however, that IKEA will be able to maintain a large Winnipeg market after the initial craze that will surround the opening dies down.

Most IKEA stores are the stereotypical blue with the large yellow block style letters, with a few windows. We can likely expect nothing out of the ordinary there, and traditionally the store has a “one-way” layout that guides you through all the store’s items as you browse. Perhaps you can even set yourself up in one of the showroom offices and write a paper there. The walk through all the different showrooms and items will most definitely be a great time-killer on a day off with nothing to do. However, after we storm the gates with a rush of purchases in the first year, I see many Winnipeggers doing just that, wandering about the store with little to no intent of buying much more than a pack of tea lights or a light bulb for the lamp they got for Christmas last year.