The Irish IKEA Story:
- IKEA opened in Belfast almost three years before the Irish shop
- 98% (exaggerated) of all Irish citizens flocked to Northern Ireland with only one purpose: interested in flatpack furniture and Swedish meatballs
- IKEA in Belfast, was apparently the largest IKEA outlet in the United Kingdom, so when it opened in December 2007 the police had put extra resources on the roads as more than 5000 cars made their way to Bangor Road.
- IKEA had visitors from Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland and of course Northern Ireland were traveling to Belfast on their IKEA pilgrimage.
- IKEA have always been interested in opening a store in Ireland, around Dublin, but the government has always refused them to build their huge outlet anywhere in the Republic.
The general reader might ask “Why?”. Well the Irish government wouldn’t allow superstores to be built larger than 20000 sq2, and IKEA wanted to build more than 30000 sq2. However, the politicians probably realised the money they could gain by granting permission and they changed the planning laws to allow IKEA build a superstore in Ireland. Voila, true capitalism rules.
BUT, a green light in Ireland doesn’t necessarily mean you can proceed!! The planning process started in 2004 and was only approved in June 2007. The government decided to spend some of their “hard earned” EU money (grants) and started to upgrade the M50. And, as long as that work was being done IKEA was not permitted to build…..Argh!!! Fool (keep Mr T in your mind when you read that word). A rumor has it that IKEA offered the Irish government money to complete the “IKEA roundabout” and exit faster, but it was refused. What’s wrong with a bit of bribery?
Finally, IKEA started to build their huge blue/yellow flatpack box in Ballymun and announced the opening date to be 27th July 2009. People started to queue Sunday afternoon, the day before the grand opening!
On the day of the opening, roughly 3000 people enter the main doors in the first hour alone. So, the amount of Swedish meatballs required was amazing. I have to admit, IKEA does think of the community, so they even considered the M50 commuters when planning their opening hours, to ensure that traffic to IKEA didn’t cause unnecessary delays. As they say in Sweden “mucka bra, Johan!” my Swedish friends.
Only the Germans would have outdone them and build a dedicated road to IKEA, to take the traffic away from the hot spots.
The Pilgrimage to IKEA:
The day had come. We had to join the bandwagon and planned a family day trip to IKEA. You can’t go to IKEA for just an hour or two. We had to buy some furniture for our daughter’s room and a few extra bits I’m sure. Before going to IKEA, you need to have agreed a budget before you go, so we agreed ours – budget: €500.
Once you enter IKEA, that budget will not NOT last. You always end up buying a lot more than you need, buy furniture that you do not have room for or totally forget why you actually went the in the first place.
IKEA opens at 11.00 on bank holidays, so we left the house at 11.30 and arrived at the giant blue cathedral 20 minutes later. And, due to the time we arrived, the car park was “only” 80% full. It had only been open for less than an hour.
As with any road trip, we time these with our son’s impressive hunger, and outbursts if he doesn’t get food, so going straight to the cafeteria to get the mandatory Swedish meatballs is a priority. Personally, these meatballs are nothing compared to the Danish meatballs. Anyway, we had our ration of 50 meatballs and juice.
After lunch had been consumed, we cruised the showrooms and wrote down all kinds of furniture – anything we saw and liked. You have to admit it, they understand how to use the space and sell their furniture ideas VERY well. It’s a brilliant way of manipulating your brain. They “encourage” you to buy more.
We found a few cool things for our daughter, but they were sold out. I asked a friendly person, wearing a YELLOW IKEA shirt that would give any normal person an instant tan, when the goods will be delivered again. To my surprise, I was told that they don’t get any shipments to IKEA in Ireland, until they can fill a giant shipping container. WHAT?! So, Irish people are no better off than they used to be, waiting for weeks (normally 8-16 weeks) for furniture to arrive from e.g. IKEA UK stores. Most other IKEA countries would simply get the stuff shipped from the nearest store, to satisfy the customers.
Unfortunately that meant that we didn’t buy the desk or shelves as planned. Thankfully my daughter didn’t know we were planning to buy this, otherwise should would have skinned us alive and screamed so loudly that the windows in IKEA would burst – all of them.
Instead, we bought goods for almost €600, more than the agreed budget I know, but it was important stuff we brought home – right? That evening I assembled the furniture we bought and our daughter was over the moon when she saw her new bed (not from IKEA, but a Danish designed HC Andersen bed).
It took hours to assemble all the stuff and by the end of evening my fingers were bleeding from all the papers cuts. Not to forget, all the times I had hit my thumb with the hammer and scratched my hands with the screw driver.
Was the IKEA experience as good as expected? Well, it’s a bit like eating a McDonalds burger, a burp and a fart, and you are hungry again. IKEA is great and they have loads of excellent ideas and furniture. We could spend thousands of Euros there, and probably will, but you just want more. You always find a reason to go to IKEA. It’s like a DIY addiction and a husbands worst nightmare. Your wife has these unreal expectations that you can assemble furniture by looking at a manual written in Swedish.
Well, happy shopping to all you ABBA enthusiasts and IKEA fanatics. Sweden has only produced a few memorable things to the World in my humble opinion (remember, I’m Danish, so I will always have a grudge):
- Drunken longhaired Swedes in Copenhagen<
- Wasa bread
…and by the way, Denmark beat Sweden in the World Cup qualifier. 🙂
Sorry, we are off to IKEA next weekend again, so we might see you there – tweet me.