Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ikea is here.

Since we moved to Korea people have told us that Ikea was going to be built here. At the risk of sounding like "back in my day" kind of whiner, I want to tell you about my mixed feelings regarding Ikea being built here at this time. First of all, I love Ikea-trendy, cheap items for my home? Love it. Sign me up. But listen, you need to know how stinking hard it was to decorate our apartment when we moved here. I could NOT find a floor lamp here.  Rugs were not only hard to find, but when I did find one at Emart, it was $700. Now when other expats move here, they'll just pop over to Ikea and get everything they could ever need. 

Knowing the difference between how crazy Costco is on a Saturday in the U.S. and how it's 10 times crazier here, I was braced for full on lunacy with Ikea. I heard it's about an hour drive to the north and west of where we live. Officially, Ikea opened on Thursday. Our winter break started Friday afternoon and we decided to go on Saturday. Soo and Heidi wanted to go too, and we decided we would get there right when it opened at 10. I figured that we would need an hour to drive, 30 minutes to sit in the car waiting to get into the parking lot and maybe an hour to wait in line to get into the store. 

First we stopped for coffee, were led astray by the gps directions (we crossed the Han River 4 times when really, we needed to cross the Han zero times) and got to Ikea right at 10:00. There was an additional parking lot for the Lotte outlets across the street, so we parked there and decided we'd just pick something up at Lotte to validate our parking. This area is like a little golden triangle of shopping: Ikea, Lotte Outlet and a Costco. 

 It was not at all as crazy as I had anticipated.
Looks like a line for a ride at Disneyland, but it's just the entrance to Ikea

This guy was wearing a tank of coffee on his back pouring cups to
those waiting in line.
They were also handing out these hand warmers
We got inside after a very short (2 minutes maybe?) wait. I was talking to an Ikea employee inside and he said they space out the people entering the building between the 7 entrances so there aren't too many people rushing in at once.

me and Soo, ready to shop!
Overall, it was just like being in the U.S. the crowds were comparable to Denver and so were the prices. I had heard that things were marked up as much as 40%, but I didn't see that.
The cafeteria
The store is laid out so that you go through the show room, then eat and think over what you've seen and then go buy it all. We got to the restaurant right around 11:30 and we just beat the rush. The meatballs are the same! The menu is more limited and there are no kids' meals. The cold foods are similar (salad and wraps) but the hot foods are limited to these 4 choices:
 meatball set, fried kimchi and rice, bulgogi and rice, pasta.

The classic!
 Being there was overwhelming. In the end, I got a new lamp and rug for the bedroom and a few other knick-knacky things. I'd found a rocking chair that I liked and they were sold out. I inquired about it and the Ikea employee told me that somethings were sold out because they didn't antipate how huge the response would be. Please, I could have told you how huge it was going to be.
see? Normal prices
By the time we left around 1:00, the line to get in was much longer and the traffic was getting worse. In general in Korea, things open late and people get going later in the morning than they do in the U.S., especially on a weekend. Going right for opening was a good way to beat the crowds.

Jim had so much fun putting this lamp together that he's asked me to go back to Ikea to buy more things! Just kidding. 

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