Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Amazing Store

Ikea is amazing. No, not their furniture, but about how very, very good they are at selling things. It doesn't matter if you want or need anything or not when you go inside; once you walk out that door you will have a bag full of, well, stuff - useful-seeming, well-designed, inexpensive stuff, true - that you only vaguely even remember picking up on your endless trek through the store.

We went to Ikea today for groceries. They're by far the best source for essential foods like pickled herring, lingonberry jam and gravlax around here. And food was really the only thing we needed. But somehow we still came home with a pillow, a picture frame and other odds and ends I'm pretty sure I had no idea we needed up until now. I'm still pretty sure we don't actually need any of it, in fact.

So they're good. But even more, there's never any overt sales pressure, no blaring "Extra! Cheap!" signs or pushy salespeople. You never feel forced to buy anything; it's just that you run into piles of really cool stuff throughout the store, somehow looking far better and more useful in that pile than it will ever do once you get it home. You know this, and you still end up buying it. That's not just good, that's sublime.

Oh, and the herring is pretty good too.


  1. Why is it that you can buy all kinds of raw and smoked (often even Norwegian) salmon at any supermarket in Japan but gravlax, the king of fish, only at Ikea? There must be a huge market for it in Japan if marketed skillfully, don't you think? I agree that Ikea has a lot of well designed, fun, and cheap goods, but the main reason I go there once a year or so is because of the gravlax. Gravlax is also the reason I still visit Sweden every once in a while, but don't tell my family. ;)

  2. I think the problem with gravlax is that it is sort of similar to cold-smoked salmon; you tend to eat it in uch the same way. So instead of being its own food for foreigners, it competes with smoked salmon for mindshare, and loses. In a sense, there isn't room enough for both of them, unless you already have a good idea about gravlax being different - and you don't do that unless you already eat it.

    If any Swedish food could carve out its own niche, it would be surströmming. But that has its own problems getting worldwide acceptance of course...

  3. Yesterday, I saw boxes for Lättmjölk and Yoghurt naturell used as interior in a few designs stores in Daikanyama and Naka-Meguro. Maybe Swedish-style dairy products could earn it's own market. My girlfriend is so hooked on Wästgöta kloster and that "Bulgarian" yoghurt made it, right?


Comment away. Be nice. I no longer allow anonymous posts to reduce the spam.