How to be a Winner at Chinese Ikea

One of the things on my “40 Before 40” list was going to an Ikea store in China. I’ve heard all about the madness that occurs, nongmin gong sleeping in the beds, nai nais showing up and chilling in a living room to chat all day, etc. It sounded really weird and like it would be one of those bizarre experiences that could only happen here. For comparison’s sake, I went to an Ikea in the US earlier this summer. I’d never been to one before, but I found the experience truly rage inducing. The way they have the store set up so you have to walk through EVERYTHING and then you have to find a way to remember what you wanted so that you can go on an expedition through the MASSIVE warehouse to find it. God help you if you forget where you parked. So the store itself isn’t my cup of tea, but what about the people in it? I didn’t see anyone sleeping in a display bed or people relaxing in living room displays as if they lived there. However, I did notice that literally no parent in the store even tried to control their kids. Anyone under the age of 15 was running around like they were in a giant play room, which I guess means they felt at home, which I guess means Ikea achieved their objective with their cozy little displays. I don’t know, but it pissed me off. My experience in American Ikea made me more scared than curious about going to Chinese Ikea. I thought that if a handful (relatively speaking) of Americans acting like assholes in a store could make it so painful to be there, then what happens when you take that handful and multiply it times 1000? That and the fact that it’s still really hot and humid here, so I figured an Ikea filled to the brim with smelly people would make it that much awesomer. I was scared to go. Because I don’t have a death wish, I knew I would not be going to Ikea on a weekend. I made a friend agree to go with me and I had wanted to go in the afternoon, thinking maybe it wouldn’t be so crowded with people at work, but my friend has a job. She was’t able to get off work and meet me at Ikea until 9pm. As it turns out, that, my friends is the secret. There were about 50 people in the entire store, most of them employees and the rest were mostly foreigners who clearly were in on the secret of how to avoid a shit show at Chinese Ikea. It was amazing. The walk ways were empty, we were able to rush right through the displays (pro tip- I’d looked online and already knew exactly what I wanted to buy) and went straight to the warehouse to get the things I needed. I am now the proud owner of a memory foam mattress top and life is good. I kind of feel like I cheated though. I’m sure I’ll have to go back eventually and karma will get me back.


10 thoughts on “How to be a Winner at Chinese Ikea

  1. I’ve been to the IKEA in Beijing at least a dozen times and it’s hit or miss. Weekends are insane and the cafe always has been packed during lunchtime, but I think most other times have been fine. I definitely have seen people enjoying the furiniture. I swear that most Chinese people can sleep anywhere.


    • Ha ah, yeah it does seem like they can sleep anywhere. There’s always at least one guy passed out on the subway, but they always wake up in time for their stop. It’s incredible.


  2. I don’t thing that I ever want to go to ikea in China. Visiting in Germany and finland is already madness enough for me, especially due to my parents. For some reason they always find a reason to go to the caferia, for breakfast, lunch, coffe time and so on….and surprise, it’s is always, really always, no matter what day, totally packed.


    • The cafeteria? I haven’t heard anything good about it other than it’s inexpensive. But then again, that was Chinese people telling me that so maybe they just don’t care for the type of food served there. How is it?


      • At least I germany and finland the food is pretty okay. It taste good, it’s cheap but of course the cafeteria is no Michelin star restaurant.
        They offer here some basic food stuff which is “known” to be popular in Sweden (at least people think so) and it seems that people do like the food otherwise I can’t explain the ridiculous high amount of the stuffed in the restaurant


  3. I’ve been to IKEAs in Hong Kong and in Chengdu…all in the daytime. To say that they were “crowded” would be an understatement. Congrats on finding the secret to a good time shopping. 😉

    You were smart to look online ahead of time! (Pro tip #2: When you go online, check to make sure the items you want are in stock at your location.)


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