We talked to Ikea staffers and read former employees’ blogs to offer insider tips on how to survive the mammoth store and leave with the best deals.
1. Avoid peak shopping times. Try to go mid-week mornings or on Friday nights. Expect crowds, especially on weekends and through the holiday season.
2. Take one of the complimentary pencils, purchasing forms and measuring tapes when you walk in the entrance. You'll need to write down aisle and bin numbers, sizes and prices to more easily find the furniture in the warehouse that you liked while browsing through the showroom.
3. Think twice about the impulse purchases in the Marketplace. These items are cheap, eye-catching and require no assembly. But how often will you really use those hand-held mini-frothers?
4. Go with a list in mind or in hand of what solutions you need for your living space. Too many choices can be paralyzing, and there are a lot of options in more than 300,000 square feet. Browse online. Take a list, so you can see in person the products you’ve already noted from searching the website or catalog.
5. Take measurements from home if you have specific item in mind. Write down your room dimensions, other furniture dimensions and layout. You may also want to measure walls, floor space and doorways.
6. If you discover your purchase is missing a part needed for assembly: Go back to the customer service department in the store with exact product information, and they will give you what you need.
7. Don’t go hungry expecting you will eat something right away. You will walk through an entire floor of the showroom before you encounter the cafeteria. Then, there will be lines. You don’t want to have low-blood sugar in an Ikea.
8. If an item is out of stock it might only be sold out for the day. It could be available as soon as a day or within a few days. Ask an employee in the bright yellow shirts for help.
9. Check out the as-is section of discounted, pre-assembled furniture in the self-serve warehouse area before the check-out aisles.
10. You get about 45 minutes of child-free shopping for kids between 37-54 inches tall. A parent can usually recheck a child in after 45 minutes. A typical visit is two to three hours, according to Roth, so plan accordingly.
11. Join Ikea Family, the no-cost loyalty program. It comes with a discount on certain products, early sales information and free coffee, and longer time for children in the supervised play area.
12. Take advantage of flat-fee delivery. It costs the same to have a single lamp delivered or a roomful of stuff. If you need several things, plan to buy on a single trip and have everything delivered within a half-hour drive for $59.
13. Save your receipt and original packaging. You have 90 days to get a refund on most items.
14. The 75 cent hot dogs and $1 frozen yogurt comes at the very end, after picking out your items from the warehouse and making it through the checkout line. If you just want to pick up food from the prepared and frozen food sections, you can make a right at the entrance and bypass the showroom.
15. Know yourself. Be honest about your skill level in assembling things and how cooperatively you and your partner can work on a DIY project together. It’s not worth wrecking a relationship over a coffee table. Know when to spring for the assembly service. In addition to offering third-party assembly services, the store offers a $99 pickup and delivery option. You hand a list of what you want to an employee, who pulls everything from the warehouse and has it delivered to your home. Assembly is purchased separately.