Joco Opinion

August 19, 2014

Snarky in the suburbs: The cult of Ikea: Assembly required, but not 48 hours in advance

Family reunions at Ikea? I don’t get it.

If there is one thing I know about myself it’s that I’m a horrible predictor of what the next big thing will be.

Take the cupcake craze. When all the cupcake shops started popping up in every other strip mall, I laughed and said, “Yeah right, like who’s going to pay $3.75 for a cupcake?”

Apparently, everyone.

Not learning my lesson I continued with my baked goods economic forecasting and thought the cake pop — a tablespoon of mashed up crumbs, dipped in frosting and shoved on a stick with a $2 price tag — was one of the world’s biggest ripoffs. Like, right up there with paying a buck for 8 ounces of bottled tap water. I do believe I gave the cake pop, maybe, six months tops before it would go the way of the dessert burrito.

You’ve never heard of the dessert burrito? Point made. But as for that cake pop, it couldn’t be any more popular. There are cake pop bouquets, cutesy pink cake pop kitchen appliances, and even, yes, and I take this as the final blow to my skills as an economic futurist, cake pop cupcakes.

Another thing that befuddles me is the cult of Ikea. I don’t get it. I know many, many, people are excited about Ikea opening in Merriam next month. So much so, that Ikea announced it would allow customers to line up 48 hours before the Sept. 10 grand opening. If I had to compile a list of things I would stand in line 48 hours for, thus requiring me to use a 52-ounce QuikTrip cup as a bathroom, Ikea wouldn’t make my top million. (Some of my top 10, just in case you’re curious, include any kind of money give away that exceeds the low five figures and seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln.)

Because we’re talking about stuff right? Not a limited supply of an Ebola vaccine. As far as I know Ikea has furniture, bedding, wooden kitchen spoons and $5.99 mattress pads. For sure, the furniture is cute and inexpensive, but don’t you have to put it together yourself? I think if a furniture assembly instruction page is longer than three sentences, or in Ikea’s case three pictures, and you have to wear reading glasses to magnify the image, then you’ve most likely aged out of Ikea. (This would be me, by the way.)

The last thing I bought at Ikea was in 1996 in Houston. I was eight months pregnant and attempting to put together an armoire for the baby’s room. The act of basically constructing furniture from almost scratch upset me so much I thought I was going into early labor. There were panels you had to put together and then you had to make sure you got these glide hinges on just right so the drawers would go in smoothly.

The thing that really started my contractions was that I couldn’t get the drawer knobs on. You would think that would be the easy part. Just a little righty tighty and presto the knobs are on. But no, not even using my third trimester of pregnancy mom strength could I get those freaking knobs in.

I feel my blood pressure rising right now just thinking about it. I curse you, armoires from Ikea. Most especially that special Swedish thingy you had to use because a good old U.S. of A. screwdriver wouldn’t work. I’m telling you, the whole experience made me proud to live in a country that embraces Phillips- and flat-head screwdrivers.

All of this is why I was taken aback when I read that there are 1,200 parking spaces at the Merriam Ikea and store managers fear that won’t be enough. They predict 5,000 to 10,000 shoppers per day during their first couple of months in business. My immediate thought was, “Ikea, you Swedish drama queen, calm down. I think you’re a little full of yourself.”

Then I got on social media and discovered families were planning reunions — that’s right, reunions — based on Ikea shopping. What’s next, church services being held in the various Ikea “inspiration room” settings? Will the prayers be directed to the God of Commerce or the Holy Trinity of 30 percent off, free assembly or BOGO?

You know, just know, some enterprising mom is already planning her child’s Ikea birthday party featuring fun time in the kid’s play area followed by Swedish meatballs and birthday cake in the restaurant for the kids and salmon lasagna for the parents. OK, I was sort of kidding about that, but I just Googled “Ikea birthday parties” and guess what? It’s a real thing, complete with Pinterest pages.

Is this one of the signs the world is ending? I’m a little scared.

Freelancer Sherry Kuehl of Leawood writes Snarky in the Suburbs in 913 each week. You can follow her on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and read her blog at She’s also written a book, “Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.”

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