IKEA. You know IKEA. Even if you have never stepped foot into one of their mammoth complexes, you know IKEA. There is a side of me that was a little surprised that IKEA is 1) needed and 2) allowed in China. With the volume of cheap products that are produced in China, I would have thought that they would have no problem providing a domestic alternative.
I am by no means well-versed in the IKEA experience, having only been in 2-3 during the previous 20 years, all of which were in the United States. Plus, I hadn’t been in one in probably ten years. Having said all this, I thought I would know what to expect. And, for the most part, what we saw on our first trip there was, primarily, nothing out of the ordinary. A labyrinth of show rooms displaying the possibilities of every fathomable room, nook, and cranny of a home; a flow of people slowly herding themselves through the arrowed paths at one moment, and gathering in swells at the narrow turns; and Swedish meatballs (and a fair amount of other meats on sticks).
Obviously, I would have been shocked if I didn’t see several potential customers sitting on some chairs around a dinner table, fluffing the pillows while trying out a couch, hell, even falling back onto a bed to check to see if it had that perfect ahhhhhhhh feel. I did see this. And much, much more.
This is just small glimpse of what we saw. There was virtually no soft surface upon which a person was not draped over. It was quite a sight. Having felt the Summer heat, breathed the dense air, and seen some pictures of the apartment sizes available to the average Beijing young adult, our half-baked theory was that this was just more comfortable for them than their own living spaces. It had air conditioning, soft seats, free Wi-Fi, on-property dining, and an apparently indifferent staff.
I can’t blame them. Necessity, innovation, etc. They are pioneers. The malls and superstores took their land, and they are here to reclaim what is theirs.