Thursday, September 20, 2007


(Note: Sorry for the blogging delay! Classes have started, and with the fall semester in full swing, other things have been keeping me busy. But now, here’s the latest!)

Last Saturday, bright and early, we caught the bus to Älmhult, a city located a few hours north in the province of Småland. According to an IKEA postcard, “Forests, furniture, and stone fences. That’s Älmhult in a nutshell.” Actually, that sounds about right. It’s not a very big town – only 8,000 residents – and IKEA is a huge part of its culture. The first IKEA store was opened there in 1958! As the founder of the company, Mr. Ingvar Kamprad, once said, “Älmhult is, and always will be, the heart of IKEA.”

Fun fact: Did you know that the company’s name is actually an abbreviation for Ingvar Kamprad Emltaryd Agunnaryd? (Emltaryd is the farm where Ingvar was born, and it was located near the town of Agunnaryd.)

As you may or may not know, I LOVE IKEA. I had been waiting for this field trip since June (when the rumors of this trip began), and when we pulled up in front of the store, I couldn’t hide my excitement. I pulled out my camera and, along with a bunch of others, started taking photos of the store and the parking lot.

Our coordinators arranged for a tour of IKEA by one of the managers of the Älmhult store, who showed us around, explained her job, and pointed out some of the strategies they use in the store to encourage customers to spend money! For example, they always arrange a display at the beginning of the showroom walkway to grab a customer's attention – the “first buy.” IKEA also designs all those cool rooms with a specific customer demographic in mind, whether it is starving students, retirees, or families with children. Also, are your familiar with those huge wire bins in IKEA filled with pillows, towels, slippers, dish brushes, wrapping paper, and just about anything else? Well, IKEA has discovered that they can sell up to 500% more of an item if it’s in a giant bin than when it is stocked on a shelf. (Now you know!)

IKEA by the numbers…
Year the company was founded: 1943
Stores located in Sweden: 14
Stores located worldwide: 260
Stores opened in the last year: 12 (in Cyprus, Portugal, Romania, and Italy, among other countries. Eastern Europe is their newest market.)
Year the first IKEA was opened in the USA: 1985 (in Philadephia)
Year the first IKEA was opened in California: 1990 (in Burbank)
Items available through IKEA: over 8,000
Visitors to IKEA stores, worldwide, in 2007: over 500 million

Well, it looks like IKEA just might take over the world, and I think that would be OK with me!

Here we are in front of the store with our purchases:

After shopping, we headed over to the IKEA Inn, where we enjoyed a tasty buffet lunch. Then it was off to the IKEA museum, where we took a walk through IKEA’s history and decades of different IKEA furniture. My personal favorites? The 1970s and 1980s rooms.

After we'd had our fill of IKEA-awesomness, we were off to Wanås. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been to Wanås before, but it is SUCH a cool place that I was more than happy to return. Essentially, Wanås is a giant, outdoor art museum set in a beautiful forest. You’ll be wandering around and suddenly you might stumble upon a giant glass enclosure that looks like a mirage, or ten swings hanging from a giant tree, or recliners made out of logs and bamboo mats, where if you lie down, you hear a voice telling a quiet story. Or, you might happen upon a giant stone outhouse, with room for quite a few people (see pic!). There’s a modern little bridge, a house with no doors, a house with no walls, an enormous metal spider, and a stone pyramid. Each art piece is separated from the others, so you have to make your way up and down meandering dirt paths to find the next one.

I got to be the tour guide, since I sort of knew my way around, and we ran around for two hours seeing as much as we could. Our favorite part, though, was the giant swing tree:

We got back to Lund in the evening, and later I went out on the town with Karen for Lund’s Culture Night. We met up with Emma and wandered around the Stortorget and Mårtenstorget enjoying the music, free coffee and kanelbulle, and watching an acrobatic group perform. Lots of fun, even though it was COLD!!

Next time: an update on life in Lund (academically, socially, and otherwise!)

Hej då!


Sally said...

What a great field trip! How many UC students are studying in Copenhagen? The swings look particularly fun... :-)

Good thing the wool coat is on its way. Looks like you could use it already.

I read somewhere that the IKEA catalogue is the second most widely read "book" (after the Bible).

ginny said...

You were in my hood! Now you can see what a slow pace of life we have up here in the forest.

You've also inspired us to check out Wanås. We were just thinking about something to do this weekend!

charmine said...

WOW! Just so informative and it's great to see the IKEA store,my bro-in-law is a software engineer at Ikea and I plan on visiting this place in sept-oct.

Great post!I hope to see Lund as well.