The roof is on fi-yah!
All I've got is this touch-tone phone...

And I thank you for bringing me here, for showing me home...

After spending a big chunk of Saturday painting trim and doors in our bedroom, Katie and I decided we needed new doorknobs for all the rooms in our house. So we joined up with my brother and his fiancee and hit a couple home improvement stores in the area. Since we all know almost exactly what we can find on a daily basis at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Menard's, we opted for one we'd never been to before... HOBO (Home Owner's Bargain Outlet).

None of us had ever been to this place before as it's a good 45 min to an hour drive from our place, but we'd heard plenty about it from people we knew. Everyone raved about the selection and the prices and all that good crap. So we decided to give it a go.

Well, the most accurate word in my description of the place would be "crap." First, we discovered that their return policy would only give you an exact exchange or in-store credit. Even within the 30 day return window and with a receipt. Then we discovered that their selection of basics was only equivalent in terms of quantity with other normal home repair places. Not a huge selection, not a spectacular variety as we'd been promised.

And then the prices... oh the prices. They were the same. I did not notice a difference at all, in all honesty. The kitchen and bath faucets were nearly the same price as places like Home Depot. In the few instances that there was actually a meager price difference (offset, I'm sure, by the amount of money we spent in gas to get there), it was only because they carried only off brands. Not that I'm adverse to trying off brands in some areas, but only if the return policy would guarantee my happiness. And it did not.

We left. This place sucked. Instead of leaving to go home completely dejected, Brian and Jen promised us the "shopping experience of our lives" and took us to IKEA. Jen is an avowed IKEA whore dating to her days growing up in southern California. She sucked Brian into the Cult of IKEA once she moved out here. Katie and I, despite always driving by one in Schaumburg when we'd go into the city or go to Woodfield Mall to shop, had never been to one before. It was time. So we hit the one in Bolingbrook.

Ikealogo_1Holy Dear Sweet Mother of Jeebus.

The building, alone, frightened me. By itself, it's larger than most strip malls. And two levels, to boot. Then there was the fear factor instilled in us by the sight of Jenny jumping up and down in her seat as we pulled near.

When we entered, Brian and Jen explained to us that the bottom floor is where they carry all the goods separated by department. Upstairs was where they had their showcases set up displaying practical uses for their products. These showcases were set up as entire rooms with nearly every single piece of furniture, decorating matter, and organizational material being an IKEA product. Ed Norton's character in Fight Club was right, you really could build an entire existence just using an IKEA catalog.

Of course, before we could really do any shopping, Brian announced that he needed to buy himself a meal of meatballs from the kitchen. THE KITCHEN! It's a home improvement store with a full-fledged eatery! I'm assuming this is because they expect you to get lost and will need to have some sustenance in you while you await the arrival of the blue-and-yellow-clad search and rescue team. Brian and Jen bought a 20-piece Swedish meatball meal with sides of rice and mac and cheese. Katie and I had a side of mac and cheese and a bowl of soup. Now that Brian felt fully energized, it was time to venture forward.

The selection of stuff was incredible. While a lot of it was geared towards short-term usage (I really don't think a big chunk of it could withstand a lot of abuse), they did have some nice home organization and decoration items. And that's a big chunk of what we bought... some newspaper files and a desk organizer unit along with one framed print of San Francisco and three oversized poster frames so we could finally hang up the big travel posters we had purchased from allposters.com.

As cool as the place was -- and judging by the more than two hours we spent there, it was certainly cool -- we had trouble making the most of our visit because we were so overwhelmed by how much stuff was there.

But we'd certainly make a return visit.

If for no other reason than because we never did buy our damn doorknobs.

Comments

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Tracy Lynn

I LOVE me some IKEA! There stuff is so clean looking. And affordable. And they sell EVERYTHING. Fantastic.

suze

i love ikea. it's not the greatest or most creative furniture in the world, but i like the clean lines and low cost. i never leave without spending a bundle however....

ms. sizzle

ikea is THE shit. i love it and will definitely be going there upon my arrival in seattle. it is totally overwhelming, for sure. you gotta get a feel for it over time. ;)

Chase

Oooooooooooh, YAY! When we move to Dallas, there's a new, huge IKEA store about 10 minutes away. I think we could secretly move in there and no one would be the wiser.

I didn't know they had a kitchen though!! *faint*

Elaine

That store freaks me out so badly. They opened one in Atlanta last summer and my boyfriend and I went the week after it opened. It was a mad house! It's so big and there's people everywhere. And what the deal with the restaurant? I guess it takes people eight hours to do the wehole store so they need a fueling center or something.

Eric

Hey... we just went to the brand new IKEA in Canton, Michigan on Saturday... it opened last Wednesday. We like it, too. It felt like we were back in Illinois... because we used to go to the one in Schaumburg all the time...

Kevin

Tracy Lynn, Suze, Sizzle, and Eric, do you regularly buy stuff there? We're debating a pair of small dressers that could double as nightstands and I was worried about the quality.

Chase, I don't see how they could possibly find you. I almost fell asleep on one of their bunkbeds as I fantasized about how cool the setup would've been in my dorm room. Try it. Photoblog the affair.

Elaine, it freaked us out too. We really didn't know how to deal with the sheer size of it all.

Johnny C.

I like ikea. I frequent the ATL location pretty often. I'd never buy a couch or bed there though. I hate their couches. They have so much good little stuff though. I also bought my comforter and sheets there. The in tables are radical. I agree though. Alot of it is short term use and made for those who live in a loft. You still have to love the simplicity and the classic feel of most of their products.

Word to your mother.

Dagny

Welcome to the cult of Ikea. Your post reminded me to check on the status of these bowls I want. It looks like the jerks have discontinued them. Grrrr.

As far as furniture goes, you need to be careful. Some of it really sucks quality-wise. Of course, I am quite happy with my bookcases and kitchen table and chairs.

Carly

Hello, my name is Carly and I'm an Ikea addict. It's been nearly two years since my last Ikea purchase. I once furnished my entire home in Ikea product, and finally got tired of hearing all my friends say, "I have that!" when they came by. So I let go of my Ikea existence and sold off all the remnants and started anew in my new place, with a custom couch, coffee table from some one-of-a-kind-store and a bed from Costco. I still have my Ikea desk, but that's gonna go too.

I don't begrudge Ikea. It's just too easy to fall into the trap... and that's what they're betting on, those evil Swedes. They do have kick-ass meatballs in the kitchen, though.

Kevin

We didn't try out any couches, but we found a pretty decent recliner for use in our bedroom as a reading area.

Dagny, we may have to put the dresser/nightstands through an impromptu stress test of our own design before we purchase. But our new bedroom carpet must happen first. So who knows what we may find in the meantime as we shop.

Carly, the thought of living the IKEA life scares me. And I don't think Katie and I could do it. We love too much of what we already have to replace it with IKEA. Yeah, the meatballs weren't bad.

Bre

I'm not even kidding when I tell you that I'm sitting in my living room and my end tables, coffee table, bookshelf, entertainment center, and laptop stand are ALL ikea purchases. And that's just the living room!

sandra

If that IKEA scared you, DO NOT go to the one in Schaumpton -- it's terrifying. Not only because it's f-ing impossible to get there (you see it from the expressway...and then when you get off...and think, "why the hell can't I actually find my way there??") -- and it's three levels. Like a mass-produced hell, with meatballs. And damn good deals on homeware...

Eve

IKEA Cult Devotee here. I LOVE IT THERE! I bought all of the furniture and accessories for my spare room there. Although I HATE shopping, I love shopping at IKEA. And I love reading their catalogue all the time. [My]Dave and I used to go there and head right for the eatery for quiche and mac and cheese, then on to the shopping. Once we were done shopping hours later, we'd head downstairs to wait for the big boxes and grab some hot dogs and cinnamon buns at the cafe. Good times!

Bec

I love Ikea, I get the catalogue and soend thousands in my head before goign to the store and spending a few quid on kitchen-y things. But, ooo, need new storage solutions! And the cool towels, and the swirly rug and the bean chairs and... mmmmmm, spending joy...

Kevin

Bre, Eve, and Bec, it would seem that Katie and I are way behind the times on this one. Is there anyone that doesn't absolutely love IKEA?

Sandra, Schaumpton? Is this some Chicago joke that I, out here in the burbs, am not privy to?

Mocha

Yes, but you can order from www.ikea.com and never leave home again. It's perfect! But then you'd miss out on the warm cookies and milk they serve at 3 p.m. each day. That's my favorite part. I feel like borrowing a kid to get some free cookies right now.

Dagny

Unfortunately Ikea does not stock everything online. Sometimes you have to go into the store. Before each trip, I do go online first though. You can check inventory to make sure they actually have the item you want. Also the store I go to in Emeryville has this lovely secret door. By entering it you can skip the showroom and go straight to the marketplace. I went to the store in West Sacramento and they did not have this lovely door. I will never go to that store again. When I bought my bookcases, I went in shortly after the store opened and was out in 15 minutes. Of course that was on a weekday. Weekends are hideous in Ikea.

ChickyBabe

I swear everytiome I walk into Ikea I ask myself why... I never find anything I like, and the concept of buying something that won't last has little appeal when it will end up costong more in the long run.

Kevin

Mocha, for me, I think I'd rather see what I'm buying in person, first. Smaller stuff, sure, why not? Or if they are items I've purchased before and have a history with (preferably positive). Cookies sound good, though.

Dagny, I don't think any store's entire stock winds up in their online ordering system. Mostly because too many places operate separate inventory databases for in-store and online. Kinda sucks because you see something you love in the store but forget to or cannot purchase at the time. So you go online and they have no record of it whatsoever. Especially when it's a big chain of stores. Their online store is usually only what's available in one specific distribution warehouse, whereas their bricks and mortar stores may get their inventory from an entirely different center or have a nice backlog of old items that are slow selling.

ChickyBabe, yeah, but for many, the appeal of paying less now outweighs the long-term savings. Too many people "live in the now." I've got a friend who's willing to pay $20/month for a fitness center because the immediate savings on her pocketbook outweigh the fact that she would only have to pay $180/year at the fitness center where I work PT. She winds up paying another $60, but, to her, it's better because she's not hit with that one "big" bill once a year. I just don't get it sometimes.

jackt

The furnishings at Ikea are pretty respectable I think. But a lot of their furniture is a bit too flimsy. You're usually better off getting something a little bit more expensive that'll last longer. Also the self assembling drives me crazy because I am totally not handy.

SJ

Oooh, IKEA, slobber slobber. Some of my favorite kitchen things came from IKEA.

I'm surprised to hear negative comments about the quality of the furniture. Nearly all of my daughter's furniture came from IKEA, and it's lasted for several years (and survived numerous moves). I even have a couple of pieces she tired of and gave me. Our big living room rug came from IKEA, and when I had it cleaned, the lady told me it was very well-made.

Next time you go, be sure to pick up a bottle of their pear sparkling cider. It is fabulous. Oh, and Bret said to tell you how much he loves his sperm-shaped vegetable-scrubbing brush. Do Swedes know how to sex up the kitchen or what?

Kevin

jackt, I have no problem with self assembly. The only downside to it is that both Katie and I enjoy it and it becomes a fight for who gets to construct the majority of it. Most couples fight over remote controls, we fight over the power screwdriver.

SJ, I will have to try the cider. Sounds gooooooood. Actually, the quality argument was the primary reason I stayed away so long. Most of the people I had talked to said that it's not much good beyond a few years and I'm one for long-term investment when it comes to furniture. It's not fun to shop for, so I'd prefer to do it once a decade if not less often.

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