I am convinced that, if Dante Alighieri were to wander through an IKEA store, he'd throw away his draft for Inferno, muttering, "Oh, this is a much better design for hell..."
We made our first (and presumably last) trip to IKEA today. I was perfectly content never to set foot in the store, since I had read unfavorable review after unfavorable review about the store and the customer experience, but there was a $6.99 cutlery tray that Susan was looking for, and the IKEA people assured her they had ten of them, so we decided to drive down there, just to see what it was like.
Wretched, that's what it was like. (And no, they didn't have the tray Susan wanted, even though their system said that they did. Apparently, what IKEA has and what its system says it has are two totally different things with little correlation...)
IKEA has tens of thousands of square feet of space--but rather than opening it up, they block it off to create a rambling maze of a store, with arrows encouraging customers to move in only one direction. Along the way, there are kiosks where you will find employees steadfastly determined to offer no help whatsoever, even if you ask.
What I saw there were hundreds of furniture items and home goods, the vast majority of which I'd have no desire to own. IKEA's style reminds me of the blond Scandinavian furniture set my parents had when I was about eight years old--not unattractive and fairly functional, but cold and sterile and uninviting.
We did see the cateteria style restaurant, and it was busy. I had heard from others that the restaurant was the only redeeming feature of IKEA, but for me, it couldn't sufficiently redeem that store. If I wanted adequate food at a reasonably low price, I could always buy food in a hospital cafeteria--it looked like the same quality food that I got at Floyd Medical Center when Dad was there after his stroke, at only about 25% higher prices. (Yes, I know they have a 99 cent breakfast, but I can't think of any crime deserving a punishment as severe as having to be at IKEA at 9:30 in the morning.)