If you've had to decorate a home or apartment at some point in your life, there's a good chance you've used IKEA to get the job done. The Swedish company has 474 locations in 64 markets, making it a truly global icon when it comes to home furnishings. IKEA pieces are fit for everything from college dorms to swanky abodes. Many shoppers return for the relatively low prices on well-designed pieces—even if some claim the experience can put a strain on a relationship. But there are still a few things about the build-it-yourself furniture company you may want to know about before your next visit. Read on to see what warnings IKEA employees have for shoppers.
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The stores use tricks to get you to buy certain items.
It's not news that all forms of marketing involve at least some form of manipulation. But while some companies use jingles to stay on the top of your mind or convince you that your life won't be complete without their products, IKEA employs a different type of tactic you've undoubtedly seen while shopping in their stores—likely without even realizing it.
While those large piles or overflowing bins of products spaced out sporadically through the showroom might seem like an organizational necessity, employees point out that this display method is actually a ploy to subconsciously convince you to buy them. In a 2011 interview with The New Yorker, store manager Martin Albrecht said it relies on a concept known as "bulla bulla," which is the theory that products placed in huge piles will give shoppers the idea they are available in excess and will therefore be much more affordable—no matter how much it actually costs. Just make sure you really need those tea lights before you check out.
You could be leaving the store unprepared.
The only thing more agonizing than struggling to put together a piece of IKEA furniture is getting near the end of a lengthy construction process and finding that you're missing one essential screw. But while you can't possibly count each piece before you leave the store, you can set yourself up for success by making one extra stop on your way out the door.
"One thing to keep in mind about screws is that we always have extras that you can pick up," IKEA employee SteveUnicorn said in an AMA discussion on Reddit. "Pretty much any of the hardware can be found near returns."
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Certain items will always be more expensive.
Part of IKEA's undeniable allure is the fact that it provides some fantastic furniture options that can fit both big and small budgets. Unfortunately, however, there are a few products that never seem to be a decent bargain—especially when it comes to ways to outfit one specific room in your home.
"[The kitchen splashbacks] are the only products in the entire store that are custom made by a third party factory," IKEA employee throwawIKEAthrowaway explained in a Reddit AMA discussing the company's secrets. "Everything else is mass-produced, so the price difference can be quite big."
There are some items you definitely can't return.
Some shoppers may be surprised to find out that you're not necessarily stuck with every IKEA product you manage to roll home. This can even be true for items you've started putting together, so long as it's within a specific timeframe. However, employees warn customers can't exchange some products once they've left the store.
"IKEA is pretty lax on their return policy as it is. The only thing that they absolutely do not take back is bedding. None whatsoever," IKEA employee thaiangel9008 explained in a Reddit AMA.
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You're missing one important step during furniture assembly.
IKEA furniture can have a way of making even the most skilled carpenters feel helpless with their occasionally complicated instructions. But no matter how adept you are at building furniture, employees warn there's likely one essential step you could be missing when you open up the boxes and start swinging your hammer.
"One big trick is to build [the furniture] on carpet. It shows that in the directions but in all honesty, it helps," IKEA employee NickNac113 explained in a Reddit AMA. "All of our powered build tables have carpeting stapled to them."
You're shopping for the wrong products.
Anyone who has spent hours perusing the seemingly endless showrooms at IKEA knows there are multiple versions of most furniture items available for purchase. But experts point out that it can be worth it to do a little research at home or use your phone in the store to make sure you're getting a top-of-the-line option.
In a TikTok video posted on Oct. 7, user diywithkb says that you can avoid flimsier items by omitting certain products from your prospective purchase pool. "Search the website based upon material. Solid wood items tend to be a lot more durable," she points out. "They're also paintable, so they make your DIY projects a lot easier."