Did you know that “Ikea” is a Swedish word for “insanity?”

OK, not really. But with the phenomenon that occurred in Columbus in June, you had to think about it for a second, didn’t you?

Let’s review: When the announcement came that Columbus was opening a new Ikea store there in June, people began camping out in front of the building up to a week in
advance.

Camping. Out.

On June 7, the doors opened to welcome hundreds of eager lacrosse moms, home-office dads and Gen-Exers, looking to upgrade their digs.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, some customers drove from three hours away to take part in the festivities.

Even Sweden’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.S. showed up.

For a store opening.

By 9 a.m., 600 people were wedged into the store.

A store spokesman said they expect the store to see 10,000 to 15,000 customers a day.

This outpouring of, well, insanity, only serves to demonstrate the power of TV and advertising.

In this era when Americans have more body baggage than an airport conveyor belt, what’s so great about furniture that you have to assemble yourself?

In this era when Americans have more body baggage than an airport conveyor belt, what’s so great about furniture that you have to assemble yourself?

It’s the Ikea mystique.

Ads for Ikea showcase chic and attractive families enjoying each other’s company in spotless, well-appointed homes, reveling in the Ikea lifestyle.

In other words, it’s nothing like real life.

No dogs are barking, kids bickering and moms yelling about who moved the car keys.

Plus, for all our flag-waving, we’re still enamored with Europe because we suspect they have more style than we do.

Ikea is such an iconic brand that when it was learned that a catalog published in Israel for ultra-Orthodox Jewish customers contained no female models, it became an international news story that triggered a huge political and cultural debate, and an apology by the company.

There’s even a social phenomenon known as “The Ikea Effect,” which theorizes that people place more value on an item than it deserves because they assembled it. In other words, the rickety desk that you built yourself holds more value for you because of the time you invested in its assembly, even if it’s so crooked, you can barely use it.

What happened in Columbus in June is fascinating, given that it’s a very diverse and cosmopolitan city that consistently is listed as one of the best places to live and work in the U.S. It’s a city with a world-class zoo, universities and
hospitals and plenty of fun and interesting things to do other than sleeping in a tent in front of a store.

Not even Stark Countians would go to that extreme. Would we?

People who like Ikea aren’t just customers, they become acolytes. Its appeal, they say, is its “Swedishness,” its clean, timeless lines and functionality.

The addition of Ikea as a brick-and-mortar store can only bode well for Columbus, as well as for its neighboring retailers, many of which are struggling to compete with online shopping.

Now, if we can just convince them to come to downtown Canton.

About The Author

Charita Goshay

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