For a day of fun, some people head to DisneyWorld. I, on the other hand, went to Ikea. As soon as you enter the doors of this giant European market the cinnamon sweets and Swedish meatballs aromas hit you with the promise of a nice, filling lunch after a morning of browsing.
You immediately ascend the beckoning escalator up, up and away into the fun and fresh home interior designs that are distinctively Ikea. Ikea is not just a big, box mega store that is overwhelming. It is cleverly laid out, where you follow the path and/or the arrows on the floor so that you systematically wend your way thru the entire place to take in all of their innovative departments filled with affordable design. I saw no evidence of economic depression at the Ikea store in Tampa, Florida on the day I visited. It was bustling with people actually buying things; loading up cars. Do you live in 300 sq. ft. of space? Visit their "model home" where within less than 300 sq. ft. you have your kitchen, living room, bedroom, bath and closets wonderfully laid out and organized by means of shelving and a raised bed. Do you need to exist in less than 500 square feet? There was another model set up that included a children's room. The children's designs are especially functional and fun.
Do you need a giant fabric leaf that hangs from the wall in rain forest, shade like fashion? A white or pink, plastic daisy that hangs on the wall that also serves as a night light? A giant moon-like paper globe lantern for $8.99? Or, perhaps a child's chair, shaped like an egg with a fabric flap that folds down so they can hide inside the chair? View at least two glassed in mechanical demonstrations of how chairs are tested by pounding them with a machine to determine that they have a 10 year warranty. Wow. Who would invent such a precise and synchronized chair testing machine, encase it in glass and place in a retail store?
People tell me I am easily amused. But, I suspect that is a good thing, as I am entertained by the idea of certain things rather than having to actually own the material goods.
To see what's in store on your first trip to an Ikea, check out their website. You will see that not only do they have basic sofas and chairs that you can purchase extra slipcovers for, bedding, shelving, lamps, kitchen cabinet designs, toys, glasses, dishes, plastics, gadgets, rugs, curtains, curtain hardware, fabric by the yard, frames and prints, but their selection of European duvets and pillows using down and feathers is wonderful also. And, we are not talking "Designer" prices, but person-with-a-paycheck prices. So, that makes shopping here fun. There is always the possibility that you actually can and will buy something.
Ikea has their own in house cafeteria style restaurant with reasonably priced selections using real dishes and glassware (not styrofoam). Their specialty is a plate of 15 Swedish Meatballs served with mashed potatoes and a dab of lingonberry (it's a Swedish thing) sauce for $4.99. They also have organic and vegetarian options.
The history of Ikea interested me also. It started in Sweden in the 1940's by an enterprising fellow that started selling matches when he was 5 years old; now expanded into 40 different countries around the world. I believe that they employ their own designers, challenging them to come up with happy designs that perhaps even use eco friendly or recycled goods. If you are ever in a city that boasts an Ikea, do drop in.