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Quiet Week

This was one of those weeks where not much was scheduled, not much occurred out of the ordinary. I was on call for jury duty — for Friday. I dutifully called the jury hotline on Thursday evening — all jurors were released (sounds like we had been imprisoned and were being let go). My guess was that the judges, attorneys and staff just didn't want to start any trials on the Friday before a holiday weekend.

Unrelated to jury duty, I've been thinking about replacing our desk and secretary table where I do all my computer work. It's getting kind of shabby and not well suited for two computers and a printer (soon to be two printers). So after playing golf on Thursday, I decide to stop at Ikea and see what they might have.

For those of you who do not have an Ikea near you and have not heard of these stores, I must provide a bit of background. I first learned of Ikea when someone told me "they are going to build an Ikea in Tempe". Of course, my response was, "what's an Ikea?" Then I got one of those looks like "what cave did you just crawl out of". So I learned that Ikea is a furniture store — but not just any furniture store.

Ikea is one of those places that people go crazy about (see Krispy Kreme). They sell their own designs of contemporary (European-style) furniture which usually must be assembled by the customer. I cannot vouch for their claims but the company touts "beautiful, durable furniture at low prices". My source who introduced me to Ikea told me that they are so popular that people from Phoenix would drive all the way to San Diego to shop at the Ikea there. Note that Ikea even has its own entry in Wikipedia.

I watched the construction of this new store — the site is right next door to my workout facility (Lifetime Fitness) and about a mile from the HP office. I noticed right away that the building was huge. According to their website, the size of the store is 342,000 sq. ft. The parking lot was equally oversized at 23 acres. The photo here (not one of mine) shows the nearly completed store in its garish paint.

Finally, the big day came for their grand opening. I could not believe how many people showed up. There was a large contingent of police just to direct traffic. The parking lot overflowed and people were allowed to park in an adjoining field. Some tried to park at Lifetime Fitness but employees stood guard, turning away the Ikea customers. It was crazy! And not just that first day, but each weekend after that for months! Weekdays were slightly better but it was still full to bursting.

One of my HP co-workers suggested we stop by at lunch time. Supposedly, their snack bar was pretty good, serving Swedish meatballs among other delicacies. However, we figured that we would have to walk there from HP because the traffic was still so bad — so we never made it.

Over time, the crowds thinned out a bit — so, at least on weekdays, one might consider a visit. So it was with that history, that I went there for the first time. The entrance is a bit confusing. In one direction is a child care center. In another direction is the bank of cashiers. The remaining option was a pair of escalators going up to the second floor. Easy choice — second floor. I immediately found the snack bar, so I took a quick look at the menu for future reference.

Then I walked into the sales area and immediately found the modular office furniture that I was interested in. A couple of brochures and a few questions answered by a sales associate — and I was on my way — that wasn't too bad. Uh, then I discovered that the sales floor is laid out like a maze. So I began walking, looking for exit signs, turning here, turning there. Before long I began to think, how would you get out of this place if there were a fire. Don't think about that, just keep going for the exit. Ah, there is an escalator leading downstairs to checkout. Home free. Oops, not really. More maze, more signs, more frustration. After what seemed like a couple hours, I finally spotted the checkout area that I had seen on my way in. Finally, out into the bright sunshine and on my way home — mission accomplished. And I will be back — but now I starting to learn what the Ikea experience is all about.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com