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How to Shop at IKEA

A few insider tricks will help make your shopping experience at this megastore more efficient and enjoyable.


  • Step 1: Do some pre-shopping online Do some pre-shopping on IKEA's web site. The site allows you to check if the item you want is in stock in the bricks-and-mortar store you plan to visit. It also tells you what aisle and bin you'll find the item in, saving you time in IKEA's notoriously cavernous stores.
  • Step 2: Pick the best time If possible, shop on a weekday. Even in the evening, that's when the store is less crowded.
  • Step 3: Bring a large vehicle If you don't own a truck or van, see if you can borrow one to avoid delivery fees. And know ahead of time how fees are calculated. Some stores charge a delivery fee per item; others, base the charge on weight. And some stores have a flat fee.
  • Step 4: Ask for the duty manager If an item is out of stock, ask for the duty manager. They have the power to find out if and when an item is being replenished and whether or not they can sell you a floor model.
  • TIP: If you're buying a lighting fixture, ask if it takes European-sized bulbs, which can be difficult to find in the U.S. If so, consider stocking up on bulbs at IKEA.
  • Step 5: Check out the as-is department Check out the as-is department. If a model that's not in the as-is section is damaged, ask if you can have it for the as-is price. You can often score a big discount for a small imperfection.
  • Step 6: Take notes When you unpack your item, make sure all the parts you need are accounted for. Each screw and peg has a part number listed in the instructions, and each product has an eight-digit article number printed next to the bar code. If you're missing something, knowing these two numbers will save you time and aggravation.
  • TIP: IKEA's web site has downloadable assembly instructions for nearly every piece of furniture, as well as an automated customer service assistant online.
  • Step 7: Pick up some Swedish treats Take home some of the Swedish meatballs sold in IKEA's food market, and maybe a jar of lingonberry jam. You're gonna work up an appetite assembling that bunk bed.
  • FACT: In 2009, Forbes magazine named Ingvar Kamprad, who founded IKEA in 1943, the fifth richest man in the world, with a net worth of $22 billion.

You Will Need

  • Computer with internet access
  • A weekday
  • A van or truck
  • A duty manager
  • Required parts
  • Parts numbers
  • Each item's article number
  • An as-is section

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