Let me stop here and explain that I enjoy shopping. I like going to the mall or cruising the aisles of the Target. To a dangerous extent. I can go to Target and easily drop $100 and not even be able to tell you what I purchased. These purchases can, and often do, remain in the trunk of the car for days- not remembered until the next Target run. I’m not proud of this, but a fact is a fact.
I also should note that I am a true IKEA virgin. I’ve seen the outside of an IKEA in Philadelphia on a business trip. I’ve maybe seen the IKEA website once when my wife was researching cribs or something. This limited experience and the hype lately all over the local news regarding the opening of our own IKEA store is the extent of my IKEA experience. I guess what I’m saying is, “I like to shop, I dig the hype, BRING IT, IKEA.”
Back in the days before we had a child I worked out at Wachovia’s CIC building on Harris Boulevard in the University area. I used the City Boulevard exit off of I-85 North as my shortcut/back way in. Thus, my very first impression of IKEA was “what the devil did you do to my exit ramp?!?!” Two years ago there was no right turn onto the corporate and kinda icy sounding “IKEA Boulevard”. And there were trees. Lots of them.
My confusion on the ramp was quickly turned into excitement, however, as I spotted the large blue monolith of the IKEA building looming just past the exit. “Oooohhhh- what’s dis?!?!?” is what my daughter had to say. As I navigated the maze of a parking lot I noted that there was a news crew on one of the traffic islands doing a report. Looks like the hype was still in full swing. I was in the right place AND at the right time. “What’s dis”, I thought, “what’s dis indeed.”
I parked the car, unloaded my daughter, and started walking up to the main entrance of the building when I noticed the really, really convenient parking just to the right of the entrance. This lot was labeled “Family Friendly Parking” or something like that and was chock full of mini-vans and SUVs. Already I felt good about this trip. Aside from the few token “Mom With Child” spaces at the grocery store I don’t believe I’ve EVER seen a family friendly parking lot next to a store. Clearly not only my money, but also my daughter, was welcome at the Charlotte IKEA. That’s important to me.
We entered the store and were handed a map. Immediately I noticed three things.
The first was the escalator leading up to the second floor. This is only memorable because that also appears to be the first thing my daughter noticed, too. “We ride up dat right now!!” were, I believe, her exact words.
The second were the multiple “family restrooms” immediately to my left. They looked both clean and inviting.
The third was the awesome childcare/play area immediately to my right.
Oh yes. I was feeling good about our outing. To recap what I’ve seen since parking and walking in the door:
- Family friendly parking
- Multiple family restrooms
- A play area/childcare center
I've really never seen a store so accommodating to parents and families.
Now, my daughter is still a little young, and, honestly, I’m still too much of a mother hen for my daughter to stay at the play area. So I loaded her into one of the fancy IKEA shopping carts and brought her with me deeper and deeper into the mystery and hype that is the new Charlotte IKEA store.
What lies just past this entrance? Will something get broken? Will we utilize the family restrooms? Will we eat lunch at the restaurant? Do I still have bags of IKEA goods rattling around in the trunk? Will we buy into the hype or be disappointed?
Gosh. You’ll just have to check in early next week to find out...