When the Ikea store opened in Portland this last July the news harbingered huge traffic jams and the papers displayed diagrams of how to avoid the traffic. However, the biggest story, prior to the grand opening, was of those that camped out in line, some for a week, to be one of the first five-hundred in the door. I knew right away this was a place I wanted to avoid until things cooled off.
As it turned out there was not a single traffic jam, the ones who sat in line for a week, thinking they were going to get a free chair, simply got a coupon for a free hot dog in the cafe, and the doors opened on time to the sounds of Swedish oompah's by a brass band. I think there were a few dignitaries to cut the ribbon.
Well, yesterday, we finally took the light rail down to check the place out. After all, if they build such a large cathedral to shopping it might be worth the time to at least step inside the door and find out what was doing with everything yellow, blue and square. It was dizzying. You are free to shop where you want but if you came with no specific plan they have conveniently put huge arrows on the floor to route you around the mouse maze interior. Ten-thousand different items made from wood, plastic and paper in every form conceivable that is square. They pride themselves on being square. Appropriate for a store that resides in such a big box I guess.
Here is one big kudo to send Ikea's direction though. If you want a plastic bag, they charge you a nickel. They beg you with signs not to use the plastic bags, or if you must they will sell you a large reusable bag for fifty-nine cents instead of the disposable. They cite these facts in their plea:
The amount of plastic shopping bags that we all use once and toss is overwhelming:
-The average family of 4 accumulates 1460 plastic shopping bags a year.
-100-billion are given away each year in the U.S.
-It can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down in the environment!
The nickel they charge for the bags is routed to American Forests, reported to be the oldest non-profit conservation association. Every dollar donated to American Forests plants a tree apparently. I had never heard of this organization until this trip to Ikea but a quick look at what they do made them seem like a worthwhile charity. They will plant trees in your, or another persons name and would make a nice gift.
Ikea also had several displays showing how to live pleasantly in very small spaces. One display showed how a family of three could live quite comfortably in 580 square feet. Quite livable actually.
Well, that was my trip to Ikea for the first time. I'm not in a hurry to go back. In the end we bought six glasses made in Russia for $3.54. The old glasses in the cupboard, the ones we got free at Spaghetti Factory years ago are headed on to Freecycle today to be adopted by a new family.