It's the perfect store! Great products, reasonable prices, friendly staff. You can wander around as much as you like, examining the furniture and products. They sell just about everything for your home, even food! Speaking of food, there's even a restaurant there, prices are great! Invented in Sweden, known as one of the friendliest, most chill places on earth!
It's wonderful... right?
It looks like a great place, but remember, long before the Swedes were laid back and friendly, they were feared throughout the civilized world as Viking raiders, fierce warriors and conquerors. IKEA may seem peaceful enough, but you have to be on your guard there - it's a store, which has but one purpose - to separate you from your money. Shopping there, like shopping anywhere, is a battle, a battle of wits, and you are outnumbered, fighting on their turf. As in any battle, you can still win by using superior tactics, acting in ways the enemy doesn't expect, and proper intelligence (information).
Don't let IKEA get the best of you. I will show you some tips and tricks that can save you money and time, and get better furniture from the encounter. Fix bayonets and sally forth!
Step 1: Maneuver on your terms, not theirs
One thing that bugs me about IKEA that I don't see in other stores, even furniture stores, is that the store is laid out as kind of a maze. In Walmart, or any large supermarket or warehouse store, the products are laid out in islands or rows of shelves, with clear pathways between them, and signs hanging above that can be read from far away. In Walmart, if you need dishes, you can walk in a straight line, scanning the whole store as you go, until you see a sign saying "Kitchen/Dining", then go straight to it.
At IKEA, they hand you a map (a MAP?!) as if you are Indiana Jones trying to find a hidden temple. If you need to get to something across the store, too bad - you have to run the gauntlet of all the departments in between. Heck, the day I was there, they were remodeling some of the kitchen displays, so much of that department was blocked off, and getting to the next department (office chairs) was nigh impossible. I had to go to a different department in another corner of the store and backtrack (go against the traffic flow) to find the office furniture section.
One thing they have done is leave little gaps in the maze walls every so often. To their credit, the gaps are labelled "Shortcut" and they say which departments the shortcut leads to, but these shortcuts are often hard to find. Seek out the shortcuts on your map, and use them to get to areas of the store directly, without having to meander through an entire store. Save time!