On our last visit to IKEA earlier this summer, we noted with sadness how there was a certain GAP-like feeling about a lot of the merchandise, by which we mean it seemed dull and forgettable. But maybe we’ve been approaching shopping at IKEA the wrong way.
According to the LA Times, the Beijing IKEA doesn’t sell much merchandise, but it’s become a fun destination for people nonetheless:
Riding an escalator past a man lying on a display bed with a book opened on his belly, [Zhang Xin’s] clan sauntered into the crush of visitors squeezing onto the showroom path, bumping elbows and nicking ankles with their yellow shopping trolleys.
Zhang said the family needed a respite from the smog and a reliable lunch.
“We just came here for fun,” said the 34-year-old office manager. “I suppose we could have gone somewhere else, but it wouldn’t have been a complete experience.”
The article says Walmart and French supermarket Carrefour faced similar looky-loos when they entered China in the 90s, but have since become success stories. IKEA, however, seems to still be having trouble:
“The brand awareness is great, but the question is, how do we get people to open up their wallets and spend money?” said Linda Xu, a company spokeswoman who rolled her eyes when she came upon a trio of slumbering customers.