She's right, so rather than wasting precious shopping moments trying to figure it all out on your own, read this before you go.
When you arrive at the IKEA store in New Haven, the first thing you'll want to do is pick up a complimentary pencil and measuring tape and one of the small carts equipped with handles for attaching one of the large plastic shopping bags the store provides. Larger carts with baskets are not allowed upstairs.
Take the stairs or elevator to the second-floor showroom. Here, arrows and signs direct you through the cavernous displays so that you won't miss a thing. The showroom features several model homes that will give you bountiful ideas on how you might use IKEA furnishings in your own living space, whatever its dimensions. You'll also see plenty of model rooms and areas devoted specifically to living rooms, storage, kitchens and dining, work spaces, bedrooms, bathrooms and children's rooms.
Everything you see is for sale, whether it is a framed print in a bedroom, a dollhouse in a kid's room, or a full set of kitchen cabinets.
What creates a bit of a conundrum for first-time visitors is the oft-repeated question: where do I go to buy all of this stuff?
Some smaller items are available on the showroom floor for you to toss into your shopping bag. Anything with a red tag, however, you must pick up yourself in either the Marketplace of the Self Serve Furniture Warehouse, both located on the first floor. The tag provides all of the information you need on where to find each item, so take careful notes. Large, bulky items may have yellow tags, which mean that you will need to pick the item up at Furniture Pick-Up or pay for delivery.
This self-serve approach has many advantages. Not only can you shop at your own pace, you won't be accosted the moment you enter IKEA as customers frequently are at other furniture stores. "There's no pressure from anyone; no one is on commission," Franc explained.
However, Community Relations Coordinator Megan Malicki emphasized, "Self service doesn't mean no service." The Connecticut IKEA employs 350 people, all dressed in easy-to-spot yellow IKEA shirts and ready to help you with any questions you may have.
In the kitchen design area of the showroom, employees are available to assist those who want to use the store's computers to design their new or remodeled kitchen. Those who want to get a jump start can begin their kitchen planning online with the Kitchen Planning Tool at IKEA.com.
In many areas where shoppers may need time to browse, such as the kitchen area, you'll find playhouses strategically positioned to keep younger shoppers enthralled.
Before you leave the upstairs showroom, you may want to take a break in the IKEA Restaurant & Cafe, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Enjoy a taste of Sweden: Swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice are always among the Cafe's offerings.
Once you are ready to head downstairs, there is much more to see and to buy in the Marketplace. This is where you'll find many of the decorative items you saw in the showroom, along with cookware and dishes, textiles and rugs, bathroom accessories, home organizers, lighting, wall decor and more.
Once you find your way through the Marketplace, which is no small feat, you arrive, finally, at the Self Serve Furniture area, where you can complete your shopping trip by picking up the larger items that caught your eye in the showroom. Red-tag items you noted can be found in their designated aisles and bins.
About 80 percent of merchandise can be picked up by customers without any assistance if they choose. Most items are packaged flat so that they are easy to fit into your vehicle for transport home. Some assembly is often required. Delivery is available everywhere in New England, however, and you can also be referred to a contract assembly company if you will need help once you get your furniture home. If there are yellow-tag items on your list and you can fit them in your own vehicle, they can be retrieved at the Furniture Pick-Up area.
Even if your intention is only to browse, it's hard not to leave with something, particularly when you discover the Swedish Foodmarket on your way out. The good news is, unless you have no willpower at all, a visit to IKEA is not going to break you. I spent under $15 and brought home a pink plastic stool with a vibrant and plushy flower seat cushion, a set of toddler utensils, a four-pack of plastic drinking cups and a toy car. My daughter is only 21 months old, but her vocabulary already includes "IKEA."
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