One of my very favorite stores - and a great place for frugal shoppers - is IKEA. For anyone who is not familiar with this store, IKEA is a Swedish furniture and housewares company which now has stores all over the world. Their tagline is "affordable solutions for better living," and their products live up to their motto.
First of all, IKEA products are cheap. They're really cheap. I would venture to say that they sell everything from couches to cookware for less than any other store, period. Target, Walmart, outlet stores -- they don't even compare. However, this does not mean that the products are "cheap" in quality. On the contrary, they tend to be attractive, well-made, and sturdy. The company manages through innovative strategies - creative design, using raw materials, and their famous "flat packaging": selling the furniture unassembled in a box that is easy to load on your car.
Heading to IKEA is really a day-long event; the store is so huge and there is so much to see. The upper floor has a huge showroom, set up in "rooms," like a giant mansion. Customers can see all the furniture in "action" and try it out to their heart's content. After making their selections, shoppers head downstairs to the warehouse to pick up their furniture. On the way, they pass through the giant "markeplace," which sells home furnishings of every type: dishes, lamps, curtains, rugs, candles, baskets, and more.
Luckily for young families like mine, the store makes it easy to shop with children. There is an entire restaurant in the store, which sells Swedish specialities like their yummy meatballs as well as kid-friendly options like chicken fingers and pbj. They even sell baby food. Besides the kid furniture showrooms, in which kids are welcome to play, there is a supervised playground where parents can leave children while they shop. All the bathrooms are also fully outfitted for baby and child care, including stools for the sinks and a seperate, non-bathroom baby care room.
For many people, Ikea may conjure up images of ultra-modern plastic furniture and college dorm rooms, but that is only a tiny part of what Ikea is today. While they do have many sleek and modern designs, they have a very wide selection of styles, including traditional and even country-looking furniture. We joke that we're collecting the entire "Leksvik," line from IKEA, which is natural wood looking furniture. Friends often admire our furniture and are surprised to hear that it is from IKEA.
Since we've been married, my husband and I have taken a big trip to IKEA once or twice a year. Besides over twelve pieces of furniture, we own towels, bedding, pillows, glasses, toys, and curtains from IKEA, and we couldn't be happier. After all, our furniture matches and is a style we like. It is sturdy enough to stand up to our kids, but we paid such a reasonable price that it is replaceable if necessary. The housewares that we've purchased are bright colors and fun designs, and almost of all have been of high quality. I guess you could say that our house is going to look like an IKEA showroom pretty soon, but that's okay with us!
Overall, I highly recommend IKEA for terrific bargains on home furnishings that look like you spent a lot more than you did.
Frugal Fridays are on Life as Mom.