I love IKEA like some ladies love Nordstrom. I love the smell (which I've just been told is formaldehyde), the displays, the whimsical names of the products, the Swedish meatballs, cheap candles, and the semi-disposableness of it all.
My cousin Dar introduced me to it in college, when she realized I couldn't cook and was going to starve to death if something didn't change. She taught me to cook, but she also taught me to love 99-cent Swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice.
The biggest appeal to me is how they display all their products in those little exhibition-type rooms, laid out like a real house. I'm a very visual person, beautiful things make my heart swell and frequently (sometimes to Michael's dismay) cause my eyes to well up with tears. I'm not a "spacial" person, I'll throw three things in a box when we move and call it full. Michael and my Mom come along after me and shift it around and add twenty-seven more items before taping it closed. So I respond deeply to IKEA, which manages to make an improbable amount of furnishings fit in even the smallest of spaces, while fitting it out with simple, inexpensive items, creating beauty with very little money.
I call IKEA my Happy Place, and one of my most favorite days of the year is when the catalog is delivered to my mailbox. Though there was no IKEA in Macau, you could find many of their products on the shelves of a few shops. Hong Kong has three, and we rarely made a trip across the Pearl River Delta without at least a quick stop in to restock my candle supply.
I'm happy to see that Shanghai has two IKEA stores, one on the Puxi side, one on the Pudong side (where we currently reside, geography lesson coming up soon). We passed the Puxi IKEA this morning on the rainy hour-long drive to get our medical tests for residency validated, and my face hurt from the huge smile spreading ear to ear.
I know the importance for the kids to have some continuity of recognizable places as we hop around the world, which is why we've taken them to McD's quite a bit in the places we've lived/visited abroad (though we almost never go there in the States). IKEA, with its weird and wacky product names which stay the same no matter where in the world you go, represents a little continuity for me. Hey, don't judge, it totally works! And with our lifestyle of hopping around every year or two, selling off our household goods every few years, it's nice to know that the EXPEDIT bookcase we get rid of today can be purchased again a couple years down the road if need be.
I'm thinking we need to make a little visit to the Pudong IKEA ASAP. Our new (temporary) house is sadly lacking in my signature spicy IKEA candle scent!