How to Enjoy the IKEA Shopping Experience & Save Money


IKEA shopping is really unlike shopping anywhere else. It is a huge store with Swedish food and has been known to make or break a relationship.

Having experienced IKEA shopping in several different states for different apartments and for both myself and supporting my friends, I’ve come to enjoy the experience. I can enjoy it because I’ve got a process to shopping at the store and it’s one I”m going to share with you.

Wear Comfortable Shoes for IKEA Shopping

I’m not joking, skip anything another than super comfy shoes. It is preferable to wear supportive sneakers of some sort. You will be on your feet walking around for hours. Even if you are just looking at a few things you will spend an hour minimum at the store.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Allow yourself plenty of time, you don’t want to have to rush through decisions. Even if the decisions are easily made, chances are there will be a line at the register and there is no telling how long you’ll be waiting to check out.

Don’t Go on the Weekend

How long you will have to wait in line to check out will vary greatly depending on when you go. If you can go during the week, go during the week. Try to avoid shopping on the weekend, it’s insane.

I’ve found, during the day in the middle of the week to be the most relaxing experience, since most people are at work during the day. However, if you have to go on a weekend, go a few hours before closing it is usually a little quieter then.

Have a Plan

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go IKEA shopping without some kind of plan. Have a list of items you need such as:

  • bed frame
  • mattress
  • living room chair,
  • dining set
  • etc.

Then use their website and decide on a couple of pieces you want to look at and compare in person. You may end up going with something completely different, but it’s best to have some idea of what you want.

Know How the Store is Set Up

When you walk in you will see a map, golf pencil, and paper ruler, take one of each. The map also doubles as a list so you can write down where to find the products you want to buy.

You will then go through display areas that make everything seem amazing, it will include apartment mock-ups by size and on every item, you will see a price tag. This tag will contain lots of information besides the price (the price for the piece and the price for the combination), the aisle and lot number.

You will need to know these things to pick up your items later on. You will then enter the Market Place, which has everything that isn’t a decent size piece of furniture. I’m talking kitchenware, curtains, bedding, lamps, and even decorations.

You then move to the warehouse with all the furniture in boxes. See, shopping IKEA is only one part of the puzzle, you also get to assemble all of the furniture when you get home (though you can pay others to do this).

Since the furniture is in boxes and there are no displays, you need to know what aisle and lot to find the pieces you need. Don’t worry the boxes will have a picture of the furniture so you make sure to get the right boxes.

Watch the End Caps

Within the display area, there are tons of end caps and baskets full of stuff at very low prices. They will all seem like things you need, trust me you don’t need all of them. All the odds and ends add up and can easily be a couple hundred dollars on top of your big furniture purchases.

Before You Shop the Warehouse, Shop the As-Is Section

At the end of the warehouse but before you get to the checkout, you will see an As-Is section. This section is basically the IKEA clearance section. You can find great deals, some of it is furniture that has been put together already, others are in the box still. I’ve seen discounts of over 70% before.

For anything out of the box, be sure to inspect it thoroughly, there are probably some dings at the very least. Make sure all the mechanics still work. I once got a steal of a bed frame, the headboard had a ton of scratches, but the scratches were on the side that would face the wall so I didn’t care.

Check to see if the item you want is available in the As-Is section or if there is something you’ll take instead of the original plan in order to save more money. As with anything, don’t just buy stuff just because you can save money, make sure the item you are getting is actually on your list of items to get.

One last tip on the As-Is section, they usually have a container of various hardware and you can fill up a bag for $1, you can get screws, hinges, and any other hardware you might need for just a $1. It’s a great deal, this is where most of my hardware supply comes from.

Leave with a $1 Frozen Yogurt

There is a restaurant but there is also a small sort of cafe you can order food from, my favorite is the $1 frozen yogurt. It’s delicious after a long day of looking around, making decisions, and shopping.

A Couple of Last Notes

Think outside the box, IKEA does a great job of showing you different ways you can combine their items, but you aren’t limited to what you see. Use your imagination and think of what you want and how you can create it with IKEA items.

If you aren’t super creative or imaginative, two words in the google search bar will help you. They are “IKEA hack.” There are tons of IKEA hacks out there that will help not only in how to mix, match, and combine stuff but also how to redecorate it so it doesn’t look like you got ti from IKEA.

Any other tips for shopping at IKEA? Have you ever worked at IKEA – any insider tips? Let me know in the comments!

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