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Your Guide to IKEA

It's not just a furniture store--it's a meatball

DESPITE THE fact that East Palo Alto's City Council initially voted "dear God, no," on the proposal to build an Ikea on East Bayshore Road, in the end God, as usual, has sided with the Swedes. The new, blue, assemble-it-yourself megastore opens Wednesday, Aug. 27. Employees, fans and local commuters are bracing for traffic jams to rival those following New York's power outage. Some loyal customers are planning to camp out in the parking lot the night before, the better to bag those $29.99 RACKEN wall shelves.

To help you navigate the umlauts, Biter's shopping investigators have broken the code to Ikea's heretofore inviolable "Secret Glossary to Swedish." Here is the key to understanding those weird product names, along with a handy pocket guide to recognizing the warning signs of "Too Much Ikea."

Product Names:

  • ALFREDE (potholder, $2.99/two-pack): "fantasy butler"
  • ALG (mirror, $19.99/four-pack): "You're going out wearing that?"
  • BABBLA (whiteboard pen, $2.99/five-pack): "You non-Swedes are utterly nonsensical."
  • BJÖRKEN (wall cabinet, $39.99): "planned obsolescence, especially where children are involved"
  • DEGERNES (bed storage box, $29.99): "married to Anne Heche"
  • DIKTAD (stool, $29.99): "proctologist"
  • DRAMA (mug, $1.49): "Your son has been hired on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy!"
  • ERIKSLUND (framed print, $14.99): "You non-Swedes have no taste. Have some of ours."
  • FEJKA (artificial plant in pot, $2.99): "water"
  • FJÄLLNOPPA (hand towel, $5.99): "dirt"
  • GESTALTA (artist's figure, $5.99): "disturbing icon that appears in your dreams"
  • JOURNALIST (stool/TV-game storage unit, $35): "total idiot"
  • LAXAN (bathroom series, $29.99-$199.99): "diuretic"
  • LIMBO (table lamp, $19.99): "Ikea's customer-service line"
  • MÖRKER (work lamp, $4.99): "fondness for the show Mörk and Mindy."
  • PRAKTNEJLIKA (quilt, $29.99): "completely unpronounceable"
  • RACKEN (wall cabinet, $39.99): "Swedish girls gone wild"
  • SKRUTT (magnet, $2.99/six pack): "What you are after the cashier rings up your purchases"
  • SKÄRPT (knives, $12.99-$14.99): "fork"
  • TÅRTA (candlestick, $4.99): "item whose sweet but sour fragrance instantly puckers lips, requiring liberal consumption of water immediately afterward, while at the same time one must blink rapidly 66 times to avoid tear loss and resulting dehydration"
  • VÅRLÖK (Roman blind, $7.99): "an ancient warrior/decorator in Swedish mythology"
  • YTTERÖN (plant pot, $3.99): "Get along little doggie."

Too Much Ikea

How to measure when you've over-Ikea'd and require an intervention:

  • You no longer feel sorry for the old lamp being replaced by a younger lamp.
  • You have collected so many tiny wooden pegs that you use them as fire kindling.
  • You recognize your curvy wall mirror as the butt of catty jokes about styleless heteros on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
  • Your tool collection consists of those weird little metal tools good only for putting together Ikea furniture.
  • You open up the assembly instructions, and you understand them.

  • Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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    From the August 28-September 3, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

    Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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