(Note: This is part II of my review of the new Charlotte IKEA store)
Having been greeted by the family-friendly atmosphere of the new IKEA store I was curious to see if it would be kept up as we went deeper into the store. I quickly loaded my daughter into the shopping cart and headed in.
The carts were a little weird. They seemed to have the ability to easily make a 360 degree turn on a dime. While, I’m sure, convenient in the heat of the moment in the store, they took some getting used to for normal usage. We kept veering off on weird tangents. Something I’m used to in conversation and writing, but not in my skilled shopping hands. My daughter wanted to be “clicked in” to the safety belt that retracted from the seat in the cart, but I refused because honestly I wasn’t sure I could figure out how to get her out. What I’m telling you is that this was really quite a fancy shopping cart. Perhaps a little too fancy for a guy who cut his shopping teeth on a Target cart?
The store seems to be laid out in such a manner as to enable you to see (and purchase) as much merchandise as possible. Rather than walk through, say, the kitchen section, you are guided by arrows on the floor through not only the kitchen section, but also the bath, bed, lighting, pet, and living room sections before being able to reach the registers to check out.
There were terrific deals to be found down every corridor they forced me down. As a plus, sprinkled throughout every part of the store were little “play stations” where younger kids could spin pictures or pretend to drive (while either seated in the cart or from the ground) while you perused placemats and glassware or vases and baskets. These were perfect for attracting and holding a little one’s attention.
The IKEA style, to me, appears to have a nice flair for the modern while remaining economical. It was a little bit like Old Navy meets West Elm or Storehouse, if you know what I mean. This isn’t quite what I expect to see in the heart of suburbia, but, then again, it is. It’s hard to explain. I’m not sure that their style will fit into everyone’s current room design.
Anyway, we made it through the tour of the first floor to the registers at the end and I am pleased to report that there was an ample selection of both regular and self checkout stations. I, for one, love self checkout. It takes me three times as long to check out because I’ve apparently not mastered the art of scanning a barcode, but it seems to go quicker because I’m doing something. Go figure.
The second floor of the store has an assortment of cool toys and furniture for kids. It took an awful lot to get my daughter to leave that area- namely a visit to the family restroom for something she will someday be embarrassed to think I shared with you. We raised quite a stink, shall we say? After checking out the restroom (free diapers in there!!) we headed up to the restaurant to see what they had to offer.
This was where I will admit to being disappointed, albeit for the first time, in my IKEA experience. We didn’t even stay to eat. For starters I didn’t see anything for me as a vegetarian (I hear the Swedish Meatballs are terrific), and just as importantly didn’t feel up to navigating what kind of looked like a cafeteria style eating experience solo with a two year old. On another day, when I am less tired (so probably before shopping) we will at least check the dining options out one more time.
I can't say that I fully understand the hype surrounding the new store. I will admit that it is an interesting place to shop, but it is still just that- an interesting place to shop, not a life changing experience worth camping out or fighting large crowds for. I do still look forward to looking through the store again and the free cinnamon bun at the March 24th MomsCharlotte Mom's Morning Out event. Hope to see you there!