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8/9/08

I Was An Ikea Virgin

So... on our way back from a delicious day in DC (urban gardening post coming next!), we went to Ikea.

The feeling I got was... the same feeling I get as I pull into LaGuardia or Dulles. That nervy rushed feeling, exhausted even before the long trip overseas begins.

I felt like I was in a dream: In my Ikea dream, I would be in a crowd, in low florescent-lit grocery aisles where everyone was snatching cans off the shelf. In this dream I was grabbing, grabbing at food, piling it into overloaded, bursting carts, yet I wasn't even hungry.

There was nothing I wanted to eat.

Two trips in two weeks have made me keenly aware of the consumerism, the massive national waste in a road journey.

The bags, the plastic lids of *every* soda cup, *every* straw, just thrown away at the next gas station stop, the next rest area. It was repeated at Ikea, despite the 5 cent bag: plastic rulers and paper takeaway maps at the entrance- to be discarded, discarded, discarded...

We've vowed to resume packing our "road trip picnics"- grapes, cheeses, a thermos, yummy sandwiches made by my husband out of his handmade bread wrapped with care in cloth napkins. And for cents on the dollar of what we would spend, ill-prepared, on... junk.

To sum it up? We are no longer tempted by cheap, "easy"... STUFF.

Like our road trip food, I found that at Ikea, comparing it to other methods of acquiring good design, packing that picnic might take more time, but I'd rather have a smorgasboard of care, craftmanship, and good design that lasts.

Ironically, I do not have ill feelings towards the Ikea brand.
I just don't desire it.
I achieve affordability, easily, while enjoying the leisurely, ongoing hunt through thrift stores.

That and online shopping- online one can directly winnow down great finds, not have to "rush", have endless options available where you can carefully read about each product you consider, to see whether it is made of materials of which you approve.

Ikea simply presents affordable design for the masses, and has a great business model.
It's just that I would wearily push the cart down the cavernous aisle to look at a dresser, or a desk... I kept thinking,
"Oh, but that dresser I picked up for A. at the thrift store for $15 is 1. original mid-century 2. SOOOOO much better made, no veneer, completely out of wood, and 3. will last another 100 years!" or "Ah. Nice affordable knock-off lamp. But the lamps I've found for $5 in XYZ thriftstores have soooooooo much character!"

Maybe more will start thinking "What will I need, down the road?" and enjoy scouting it carefully over time so they won't feel compelled to numbly purchase massive amounts of... *stuff* in a day.

Later Note: Reading this post, my husband has an excellent point. He points at the lamp in my post, and talks about quality:
"Thirty years from now thrift stores will be empty because there will be no products that will have made it through another cycle of use."

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