The Wonderful World of IKEA

By Robert Plunket May 13, 2009

Take a trip to Tampa to shop this megastore for the home.

By Robert Plunket


Click here to see our Real Estate Junkie discuss his IKEA adventure on ABC7.


Aside from the airport and an occasional Springsteen concert, there has been no reason for a Sarasotan to visit Tampa. Well, that’s all different now—the new IKEA just opened (at the corner of 22nd Street and Adamo).


I admit that I had never been to an IKEA store before. Our paths had never crossed. I had, of course, read about the giant Swedish furniture and homewares retailer and their high-quality European design at great prices. But I had no idea what to expect. Nobody had ever communicated exactly what their stores were like, how they are completely different from other stores, and how fun and exciting they really are, how they are perfectly user-friendly.


The only thing I can compare it to is a ride at Disney World, sort of like the Haunted Mansion. You enter and you ride up an escalator, then you follow a predetermined path, past model rooms, exhibits, displays, ideas, etc. There’s way too much to take in in one visit, so you drift along at your own speed, lingering in the sofa department, perhaps, or moving along to knobs and drawer pulls.


My favorite part was the three model apartments, tiny in the European fashion (the smallest was 270 square feet), where you get to examine a completely furnished and equipped living space for an imaginary person or family. The 590 square-foot version is set up for a family of four, and it really works.


IKEA has virtually everything you need for your house (one floor is nothing but housewares, like glasses and bedding and lamps), but its genius lies in its storage pieces, of which there are hundreds (check out this bookcase, exactly what I’ve been looking for and priced at $199), and its famous kitchens.

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel you’ve got to check them out. Their cabinets have great style, so completely different from the same old same old we’ve been forced endure here in Sarasota for the past 10 years. There’s also a special section for retail stores and offices.


The big drawback: You’ve got to assemble the furniture yourself. I’ve tried this sort of thing before and discovered that it is not in my bag of tricks. They say they can hook you up with people who will assemble it for you, for a charge. So if you’ve been laid off and can assemble furniture—get in touch with them. It could be a whole new career.


And they have a restaurant! With Swedish specialties like gravlax and open-faced shrimp sandwiches and meatballs. And it’s cheap! Nothing higher than $4.99. Do what I did— arrive hungry, eat, shop for a couple of hours, then eat again. It’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday.

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