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Maze Misery: IKEA and Stew Leonard's

Retailers who purposely turn their stores into labyrinths

August 5, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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We needed a picture light, just a little fixture that attaches to the wall and hangs over a picture.

No big deal. Or is it?

First we went to a massive Lowe's—endless aisles that vanish seemingly to infinity.

A cheerful greeter at the front door directed us to the electrical aisle.

We could not find what we wanted.

Then we asked a Lowe's employee who summoned help. After a few minutes the electrical department guy came. Very nice, but still no dice.

"Try IKEA," were his parting words. Luckily, IKEA is three stores away.

Why IKEA Is a Buyer's Nightmare
We are buyers, not shoppers. Living in a 16-foot-wide row house in Center City Philadelphia means no room exists for "stuff." When we need something, we go for it.

If something catches our fancy on the way out, we'll pick it up and take it to the register along with the thing we came for.

But with five columns a week, clients and incessant correspondence with readers, I don't have time to dawdle.

No one greeted us at IKEA. We had to forage around to find an employee and told her our need.

She let us in through a shortcut and pointed the way to electrical.

IKEA Is a Horror Scene
The Brits love mazes—seven-foot-high hedges designed to confuse the hell out of the suckers who enter them. Sometimes they wind up screaming for help because they are so scared they have to relieve themselves.

Same thing with IKEA—myriad aisles that end in a wall full of merchandise of no interest, forcing you to retrace your steps.

Purposely misleading signage guarantees the buyer will remain totally lost.

Quite simply the greedy Swedes want to force all customers to traverse every inch of the store—all two or three floors. The upshot: Shoppers arrive at cash registers with a shopping cart overflowing with mod crap to further junk up the house.

When we found the electrical section, no picture lights were to be found.

Whereupon we had fight our way back through the labyrinth with no one to help us.

Exit signs at IKEA mean exit to another department.

 
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