IKEA Meltdowns: Do They Happen To You?

IKEA Meltdowns: Do They Happen To You?

Dabney Frake
Apr 17, 2012

Although my partner and I are decidedly low-drama, some of our worst blowouts in history have been in an Ikea. Before Boston had one of their big blue stores, we used to make marathon field trips to New York or even Montreal to get things we needed for the house. And now that we live in Saint Louis, it's back to driving the almost five hours to Chicago.

Once there, the pressure to make decisions in one day, confusion in the face of their labyrinthine layout, and retail overstimulation usually result in the perfect storm of arguments. We can't agree on anything, and often give up in frustration and anger. What's worse, I know of about four other couples who have told us similar stories of Swedish retail woe.

While in St. Petersburg, Florida for my remodeling project, I took a quick trip to the Ikea in Tampa to check out their famous biannual kitchen sale. (It was a snappy 30 minute drive.) Even though a big purchase was in sight, I was struck by how relaxed I was, knowing I could — if need be — sleep on it and come back to make my final choices. I was practically skipping through the store.

For those of you without an Ikea nearby, do you too buckle under the pressure and take it out on your mates? For those of you with stores in your home city, are you more serene than us, the Ikea-deprived? My marriage wants to know.

*The image above is a pedestrian model for Ikea, showing customer movement through their stores. Note the red splotches, which show concentrated pedestrian flow. I prefer to think of them as increased anger zones.

(Image: UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

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