For millions of people across the world, IKEA is the go-to shop for all their retail needs. But did you know that the famous Swedish brand harbors a number of surprising secrets within its walls? So from where and when to get the best bargains to culinary tips, here are 40 things to keep in mind the next time you pay a visit to the store.
40. Moving walls
IKEA’s immaculate displays continue to draw customers in, but there’s something else about the stores’ interior which might surprise you. Yes, an employee named Paula claimed that their walls aren’t permanently fixed. She told the Mental Floss website in 2018, “They have a lock on them so people can’t randomly move them. At the end of the night we move all the walls out of the way so we have a straight shot to where the trash is.”
39. Cheap reservations
If you’re looking to buy a piece of furniture over the internet, you might want to hold off for a moment. You can reserve an item from IKEA for just $5 – on top of the product’s asking price of course. That way, you’ll be able to claim your purchase at the shop and swerve any hefty postal charges for delivery.
38. The ‘bulla bulla’ technique
If you’ve ever been to IKEA, there’s a good chance that you encountered several large containers full of seemingly cheap products. As it turns out, this is a deliberate attempt to encourage customers to spend more during their time in the shop, according to employee Paul Robertson. It’s referred to as the “bulla bulla” technique, and the staffer told Mental Floss that it involves filling bins full of items “to create the impression of volume and, therefore, inexpensiveness.”
37. Don’t leave things open
The next time you go to IKEA, you should probably keep this in mind. Staff member Jana told Mental Floss, “Everything in that store, we have on display. You can touch it, feel it, lay your face on it, but for some reason [customers will] open the package and then leave it there. What they don’t understand is when they open certain things, we can’t resell them, so we have to scan them out.”
36. Price protection
Is there anything more annoying than seeing a product on offer that you’ve already paid full price for? Thankfully IKEA has looked to do something about that – handing their “IKEA Family” customers a 90-day price protection. So you should consider signing up to the scheme, because the company will refund you the price difference within a three-month period.
35. The showroom books
Did you know that IKEA relies on its members of staff to dig through their own reading materials when it comes to padding out the showroom bookshelves? After all, an empty bookshelf isn’t particularly inviting, right? As an employee named Rob explained to Mental Floss, “All of that was stuff we owned. [But] you had to use your common sense. [So] nothing pornographic or anything.”
34. Don’t arrive too early
An IKEA worker called Algren has some sage advice if you’re considering an early trip to IKEA to beat the hordes. He said on Reddit during an Ask Me Anything session, “I work at a store in the United Kingdom, and I see a lot of people coming in before the store is open to be first. But the funny part is that they create a rush. The best time to go towards the checkout for no queue is 30 minutes to an hour after opening.”
33. You can purchase entire rooms
Have you ever seen a whole IKEA showroom that you wished you could just buy outright? Well, if you’ve got the money, staff member Paula has some good news for you. She told Mental Floss, “There have been people that come in and see a room and like everything there and they take it.”
32. Free diapers
As any new parent will tell you, there are few things worse than accidentally leaving your baby’s spare diapers at home. But don’t fret, because at IKEA you can avoid the messy consequences by visiting the store’s family bathroom. And they even have some free nappies there if your little one has an unexpected emergency.
31. Employee discounts
IKEA employee Algren outlined some of the benefits that come from working at the store during his Reddit AMA. He revealed, “We get a 15 percent discount on everything, which includes food, furniture, orders, distributions and so on. Also during shift time, we get 15 meatballs and fries with a salad and drink for around $1.”
30. Follow the schedule
If you’re looking for a good deal at IKEA, the shop’s so-called “As-Is section” could be the perfect spot. But Reader’s Digest noted that the workers replenish the stock just a couple of times each week. So to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything, you should acquaint yourself with the schedule and be ready to pounce.
29. The ‘Long Natural Path’
Of course, it’s not just the stylish furniture that IKEA is famous for. What about those bendy aisles inside the store? Well, staff apparently refer to it as the “long natural path” or the “long natural way,” according to Mental Floss. That’s because it leads customers across the entire shop floor. And if that wasn’t enough, New Yorker writer Lauren Collins claimed that the unique trail always turns at the 50 feet mark to retain your interest.
28. Don’t pick up the displays
When you find the perfect item, you’ll no doubt look to stick it in your trolley straight away. But what if the product’s been out on display? Well, at stores like IKEA, the staff need to check that the particular item can be sold. And they often can’t, so be careful which one you pick up.
27. The serial numbers
For those of you who’ve ever wondered if the IKEA serial numbers hold any meaning, employee Paul Robertson has an answer. He told Mental Floss, “While I was there, it was that the last two numbers would tell you what color the item was. So let’s say it ended in 40, it was blue. That would mean the 4 range was blue, so 41 might be light blue and 42 would be dark blue.”
26. Missing screws
Picture the scene: you’ve almost built your IKEA wardrobe after spending hours assembling it. And then you notice that you’re missing a few screws. Well, you aren’t alone, according to Algren. He told Reddit, “In around six hours we’ll have eight to nine cases, which range from one to three [missing] screws to a whole bag.”
25. Always check the website
Of course, an online search for a product is way less stressful than a frantic trip to the high street. But IKEA’s website can make your life a lot easier if you do need to go to the store. Apparently, you can jot down a product’s reference number and then hand it to a member of staff. And from there, they’ll locate the item for you. Easy.
24. Free coffee
Shopping can be thirsty work after a while, so IKEA has looked to give its Family customers a boost. You see, one of the perks of that scheme entitles you to a free warm drink inside the store. From a cup of tea to a serving of coffee, you’ll be ready to browse those aisles again once you’ve had a caffeine fix.
23. Hidden deals
Compared to other parts of the store, IKEA’s As-Is section boasts plenty of excellent deals. The department itself houses products that have either been pre-owned or used for the showroom displays. So, it can be pretty easy to miss out on some good bargains if you’re just looking for pristine stock.
22. Staff Christmas gifts
While some companies hand out Christmas bonuses to their staff, IKEA is a little different. As staff member Rob recalled to Mental Floss, “The first year I worked there they gave out bikes. This year they gave out Rokus.” In other cases, Paula revealed that she and her colleagues had the opportunity to win a holiday over the festive season.
21. The TaskRabbit workers
If you’re not very good with tools, DIY can seem like an absolute nightmare. Yet IKEA are willing to make people’s lives a lot easier on that front. For instance, you can speak to a “TaskRabbit” employee at the shop who will build your store-bought items for you. It’s not a free service, though, so be ready to get your wallet out.
20. Local deals
Depending on where you live, you might be in line for some exclusive deals at your nearest IKEA. Apparently, the shops are somewhat independent to each other when it comes to particular sale items. So if one store has to shift excess products, they’ll be cheaper in that specific outlet.
19. The power of Pinterest
If certain products seem to be flying off the shelves at your local IKEA, Pinterest could be to blame. And Paula shared an example of that to Mental Floss. She said, “There was one specific spice rack we were constantly sold out of. Someone had gone on Pinterest and said you can paint it and make it a bookshelf for toddlers. We had to tell people, ‘If you’re here for the spice rack, we don’t have it.’”
18. In-store arguments
As any couple will tell you, arguments can spring up over the slightest thing sometimes. But IKEA staff member Jana believes that lovers’ tiffs are particularly prevalent in the retail store. She told Mental Floss, “If you really wanna test your relationship, go through IKEA and buy something. I guess they just get stressed and overwhelmed that the store’s so big.”
17. Free children’s meals
IKEA doesn’t just offer excellent deals on furniture. No, it turns out that the company has another card up its sleeve to entice customers. As per the House Beautiful website, parents can grab free meals for their children at the store each Tuesday. All the customers have to do is buy an entree at the counter and they’re set.
16. The ‘open the wallet’ section
If you begin to spot functional products at inexpensive prices during a trip to IKEA, you might’ve just entered the “open the wallet” section. While talking to Mental Floss, Rob explained, “It’s basically impulse buys. It’s a lot of very cheap items, things that look practical, useful, something you didn’t realize you wanted.”
15. Try before you buy
Have you ever tried to visualize what a piece of furniture would look like in your house? Well wonder no more, because that task is now a lot easier if you download IKEA’s Place application on your phone. The app apparently allows you to move products like chairs into a photograph of your living space. Neat, huh?
14. The perfect time for returns
Depending on your luck, the returns queue at IKEA can sometimes be just as busy as the standard checkouts. After all, if the staff are dealing with a severe fault to a product, you could be waiting for a while. So be sure to arrive at the store before it opens in the morning, so that you can reach the counter first.
13. Moving discount
It’s fair to say that moving into a new house is both exciting and daunting in equal measure. And the costs alone are enough to set your heart racing. Yet IKEA could take some of that financial pressure off your shoulders. You see, if you buy a product that’s worth $250 during that period, the store will shave $25 off the price.
12. You can buy mattresses
When some people think of IKEA, flat-pack furniture immediately pops into their head. But did you know that the retailer has mattresses for sale as well? Reader’s Digest revealed that staff members are surprised by the sheer number of customers who aren’t aware of that as they browse the showrooms.
11. After-hours fun
IKEA staff apparently aren’t averse to having some fun together after the stores shut their doors for the day. Worker Paul Robertson told Mental Floss, “On closing shifts, one guy I worked with would always manage to have me distracted, then he’d go hide in the store. So I’d have to finish up tasks, walk through the store knowing somewhere along the way he’d jump out at me, and he got me all the time.”
10. Pricey backsplashes
IKEA’s kitchen backsplashes are particularly expensive compared to some of the other products in the store. But why is that? Well, an unnamed shop manager answered this very question during their own Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit. According to them, the aforementioned items “are custom-made by a third-party factory” – unlike the standard stock.
9. The employees can build everything
If you’ve ever wondered who puts all the cabinets and accessories together at IKEA stores, you’re in luck. A worker posting under the name epimetheus answered that particular question on Reddit. They wrote, “Every piece of furniture you see that’s pre-assembled was built by an IKEA employee. It’s required as part of the training for people working in sales.”
8. VIP treatment
Of all the perks that come with signing up to IKEA Family, this one is arguably the most intriguing. Reader’s Digest claims that you can receive invitations to exclusive media gatherings from the retailer. And unlike the other advantages that you get with the membership, it’s not advertised ahead of time. Instead, it is pretty much a secret surprise.
7. The intercom codes
You aren’t alone if the intercom codes at IKEA have left you confused in the past. But staffer Jana shed some light on a couple of them to Mental Floss. For instance, “Code 99” signals a lost child and “Code 22” is a cry for help at the checkout. She went on, “It means the cash lanes are backed up into the warehouse. Anyone in the store who’s register-trained has to go to the front and help.”
6. The most popular products
Sure, IKEA is home to a huge number of products. But have you ever wondered which of them are the most popular? Well, employees told Mental Floss that the LACK table and BILLY bookcase hold that particular honor. And items like the EKTORP sofa and POÄNG chair are quite hot, too.
5. Try the salmon
While talking on Reddit, staff member epimetheus shared their thoughts about IKEA’s food selection, and what you should try. They wrote, “As a well-seasoned connoisseur of the IKEA Restaurant, I’d recommend the salmon, the princess cake, the mac and cheese, and the cornbread. My go-to is the salmon wrap, because of the sauce.”
4. Positive work culture
Algren received a question about life behind the scenes as an IKEA employee during his Ask Me Anything on Reddit. He responded, “I get along really well with the management. They’re very down to earth and understandable, and promote a work culture where you’re happy and comfortable to give the service that the job asks you to.”
3. You can sleep on the furniture
Shopping can tire anyone out – especially during the busier periods of the year. But should you find yourself lagging in an IKEA store, you’re more than welcome to get some shut-eye on the furniture. Incredibly, Paula told Mental Floss that staff will only give you a nudge if you’ve been sleeping for a couple of hours.
2. Ask for help
You might’ve noticed something quite different about the staff at IKEA. Unlike other stores on the high-street, they don’t bother customers or ask if they need a hand. Instead, you’ve got to go to them should you require their help. Rob told Mental Floss, “We were told that’s a very Scandinavian way of how stores work.”
1. The secret shortcuts
When walking along IKEA’s so-called Long Natural Path, there’s a chance that you caught sight of a few doors on your journey. They aren’t just random rooms, though. In fact, they’re secret shortcuts through the shop. Paula told Mental Floss, “If you know where to look, you’ll find them. Nobody’s going to stop you unless it explicitly says ‘employees only,’ but other than that you can open doors and you’d be amazed.”