Published on August 2nd, 2008 | by Jules Yap


Hack a quick getaway

Going to Ikea can be an adventure in itself. But what if you just need a bag of 100 tealights? How do you do a quick zip in and out? Jenny has it all figured out. Check out her Quikea tips and you may just be able to fit in a trip to Ikea this weekend.

What about you? Do you have any tips for a quick trip to Ikea? Comment away.

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Hack a quick getaway
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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

47 Responses to Hack a quick getaway

  1. Anonymous says:

    How to shop at IKEA in 5 minutes flat:

    - Know what you’re getting, and where it is. Start out on the web.
    - Go there by bus. Trying to find a parking spot will take up those 5 minutes, and needing to catch the bus that leaves in 7 minutes, or having to wait for 30 minutes will keep you focused, so no need for a buddy.
    Avoid the IKEA bus.
    - Go in via the tills.
    - Use the self-service till when you pay.
    And no, you haven’t got time for a cinnamon roll.

  2. Ken says:

    Great tips! And why not be a little sneaky. They’re sneaky by forcing us to walk through the entire store past all the expensive merchandise, just to get to the small, cheap stuff.

  3. i just sneak in the ‘back way’… instead of going up the escalator, through the furniture, back down into housewares, i just walk through the self-checkout lane… =) gets me in and out faster.

  4. mariakhar says:

    Or you could just do what I do and get a boyfriend who works at Ikea and he can pick up my 100 tealights when he’s supposed to be working…

  5. Caitlin @ Clutter Cubed says:

    @ Anonymous:
    Let me leak you an official statistic: roughly 30-40% of all customers enter the store via the check-outs, either intentionally or accidentally.

    Most people aren’t disagreeing with the act of entering the store through the exit doors, we’re disagreeing with parking in the loading zone in order to do so.

  6. Mackie says:

    just want to join the crowd who disagrees with the loading zone parking tip. that is a rather crappy tip, you know. :rollingeyes:

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have to agree with the others who say that parking in the loading zone is rude and requires a huge sense of entitlement. Every time I went to the Burbank IKEA to legitimately park there they had someone patrolling the area asking for receipts, but obviously it’s something they need to do.

  8. Jenny, you loading-zone-hoarding, cinnamon-roll-wolfing thing! Looking at Step 1, I thought, Hmm. Here’s someone who shops in Burbank. Then I saw the next photo and all was clear.

    What are you doing shopping at IKEA–never mind how quickly–when it’s WEEK THIRTEEN?! Great post. Now get back to work. (Telling both you and myself that.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Let me leak you an official statistic: roughly 30-40% of all customers enter the store via the check-outs, either intentionally or accidentally.

    I agree whole-heartedly that learning the layout (shortcuts especially!) will save you gobs of time. Pay especially close attention to pathways for parents to return to the play area, as these are usually pretty short (when Little Johnny is puking all over the other kids, you don’t want mom stuck in bed textiles).

    Also: most stores have a nearly-invisible door from the entrance straight to the marketplace. Look under the stairs (or around the play area). This is often faster than going backwards against the flow.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen people park in the loading zone at the Long Island, NY Ikea. One weekend, my husband spent 15 minutes driving around and around the loading area because some smart person parked across 2 spots and left their car. Who knows, maybe they needed those 100 tealights and the cinnamon roll too much to care to park responsibly.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I also suggest that you go early to breakfast!! You get to go in one-half hour early, and then you’re fed and ready to go when they open.
    Also, go with a handicapped friend who gets to park close to the door.

    Finally, go in the back door and and check out the AS-IS ROOM FIRST. By doing that, you get first dibs on the goodies. I got a king-size bed frame for $50!! Pay for it, THEN go back in to browse!

    Happy IKEA IDEAS!! love, Nina in Houston

  12. Caitlin @ Clutter Cubed says:

    I also have to disagree with the very first “tip”! The loading zone is there for people who need it; not people who can’t be bothered to look for a parking spot, or can’t be bothered to park farther away from the doors. 2 minutes to walk across the parking lot won’t kill you or ruin your carefully scheduled day!

    If I want to spend a short amount of time at IKEA, I bring along my husband who hates to shop there. He keeps me moving along, and only looking at/buying the thing(s) we are there specifically to get.

    I agree with all the commenters who said to do your homework and bring a list! Same as at any store; stick to your list, don’t dawdle looking at sales for items you don’t need, keep moving, and you’ll reduce your time in there. :)

  13. hexy chick says:

    Those tips are all kind of rude. The author even knows it’s bad to park in the loading area and says “dwaddle and act like you’re waiting for someone”. Flat out rude! How about just being efficient and courteous? My tips:

    1 – If you’re justr trying to avoid people, go when it’s not a peak time frame (weekend after 10:30am) or go really early and enjoy breakfast for $2.

    2 – Park in the parking garage (College Park, MD Ikea) and if you get there early, you’re right at the door. Plus they have a loading zone as well and you won’t block anyone.

    3 – Have a clear list of the items you want with a budget and go straight to the market place, avoiding the showroom.

    4 – Learn the map of your store and find the short cuts – they are hidden, but they are useful.

    5 – Bring someone who doesn’t like shopping or doesn’t like Ikea and they will keep you moving along so you can’t meander aimlessly.

  14. katy says:

    Nice blog

  15. onibunnybell says:

    Alright, I am just going to say it: At both of the stores here in the bay, I have never, and i mean NEVER, seen the “loading zone” full. Hell I’ve never seen it more than 1/4-1/2 full. Yes I have even been there on weekends. If you are going there with the intention of grabbing something in 15-30 minutes, I say the loading zone is fair game. (I have also noticed that the family parking area is always empty as well!!!)

    Now If you park in one of these places for longer than 30 min. yeah you are kinda a douche. But is there any deficit of douche when you go to ikea? really, especially any location like palo alto with stupid elevators to the parking area.

  16. Anonymous says:

    After entering through the exit, go directly to the scratch and dent section.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It was hard for me to read past step 1… parking in the loading zone is terribly rude. How much time are you really saving by being so lazy? Two minutes?

    I second RachelRo’s suggestion of a focus buddy. When I go with my husband he keeps me on track. It also helps get there early. Treat yourself to a $.99 breakfast and then shop. You will still be ahead of the hoard.

  18. Neil says:

    The part about parking in the loading zone sucks. Do you think that you’re a good person even though you do these things or are you just happy that you’ll “win”?

  19. Anonymous says:

    ikea burbank, right? i thought those guys won’t let you go in the loading zone unless you show some receipt! wtf?

  20. Jimmy says:

    my best tip is if you already work in retail, or know how to use the self-check-out lanes.. use them! i can scan, swipe cc, and bundle up my stuff in under 5 minutes for a load of stuff, cart or not.

    and parking in loading zones are so not necessary at my ikea.. always tons of parking available by the exit section.

  21. nicola says:

    Parking in the loading zone just to save a couple of minutes is incredibly rude, and makes everyone else’s trip longer. What’s next, Jenny? Parking in the disabled spot?

  22. pokcu says:

    very pening le,, huh

  23. kelly says:

    the first tip is not only completely rude, but it’s specifically not allowed. the pictures are clearly of the Burbank Ikea and not only are there tons of people trying to get a spot in the loading area, you can’t just drive in and park there. you have to show your receipt to the man guarding the entrance and prove you’re picking up and not trying to be a jerk and save 2 minutes.

  24. RachelRo says:

    1) Bring one (and only one) person along. This is a focus buddy, not a shopping buddy. This should be a sorta-good friend or a sibling who owes you. Ideally, they will be someone who hates shopping and owns an SUV.
    2) Park waaay out in Podunk. You will more than make up for your walking time by not having to wait for all the parking vultures.
    3) If you haven’t done your homework, your job is to navigate to the part where they display whatever component you’re looking for (e.g. dressers). If you know where it’s shelved, go right to the warehouse.
    4) Buddy’s job is to keep you moving whenever you make eye contact with a pretty pattern or start to say “As long as we’re here…”
    5) When the family in front of you stops to discuss whether they need a couch or a loveseat, remember to BREATHE.
    6) After the SUV is loaded, reward yourself with a Coke somewhere air-conditioned that has places to sit. You know, somewhere else!

  25. though i don’t have a hack to add (already been covered above in previous comments), i just wanted to let you know how fantastic i think your site here is…
    great job, i love it!

  26. inertia-lost says:

    1. Parking in the loading zone? Are you serious? I really hope someone scratches the hell out of your car trying to stuff a billy bookcase into their 2-door civic. And that everyone at Ikea is as rude and inconsiderate to you as you are being to them.

    2. Walk in through the exit, avoid the showroom, look up what you need in the kiosks.

    3. Self-checkout is not always faster when the people in front of you don’t know what they are doing. Face all your barcodes in the same direction for quick scanning.

    I live 5 minutes from an ikea, so running in for something small is not uncommon for me.

  27. steph k says:

    I’d never park in the loading zone just for that! But the parking spots AROUND the exit are usually empty because everyone parks by the entrance. So if you can park nearby, do that instead.

    It helps to know where things are too – that makes my trip so much faster. So does going on a weekday/weeknight!

    I’ve been in and out of IKEA in about 10 minutes before! (Which I think is pretty amazing given that I often want to wander)

  28. Gunther says:

    Step 1: Visit IKEA on Saturday morning and buy several items, including a POÄNG chair with cushion. Enjoy the long queue at the cash desk.
    Step 2: Go back to IKEA at the same day to take back the cushion because its colour looks terrible in your apartment. Look very closely at all the other cushions to find out that the only one you like isn’t in stock. Ask an employee and learn that very few of these cushions are available at another IKEA branch. Get some more items you didn’t plan to buy and enjoy the very long queue at the cash desk.
    Step 3: Go to the other branch in the evening on the same day to get that cushion.

    Step 3 is the quick getaway.

    P.S. ;-)

    P.P.S.: My first and only IKEA hack.

  29. booyaa says:

    i can’t vouch for the other ikeas, but the one in croydon (uk) has the market place nearest to the tills. so i go through the exits, to the tills and then onto the market place. its far quicker than go through the front.

    learn your local ikea map, occasionally you’ll discover secret shortcuts, mark them down!

  30. John Eddy says:

    Is it wrong that I disagree with the first step of parking in the loading zone?

    The rest of it? Spot on, but, hey, leave the loading zone for those people who need it.

    I’d also strongly recommend the self-serve checkout, if your Ikea has them.

  31. quasivoid says:

    Dude, I love Ikea…I’ve spent loads of cash on their very stylish but simple home decor. I bought a couch about five years ago…and it’s the most comfy cool lookng thing. Yet now the slip cover for it is over, but the structure is super-sound. It’s a discontinued model,…and whether on Ebay or other sites, new slip covers are not available. I love this thing…don’t want to throw it out. Yet where are the Allerum (sofa name) covers? Damn…

  32. Voodoo Child says:

    we all know that going to the showroom level is just another time-killer…so why do that when you learn all the short cuts through? I usually bypass the showroom and head right to the market level and start the fun.

  33. Tell me about going to Ikea … it’s a damn major chore. I usually dread the day that we have to go there but it’s usually all good I end up getting the things I really need like the bag of tealights and other goodies so it’s a place I dread to go to but end up feeling good about going there afterwards!

  34. standing still says:

    I posted about this a while ago … we do NOT stop and look at anything except the item we’re shopping for. We follow the “shortcuts” and we use the self-check-out.

    In, out. New dresser. 15 minutes. I am NOT lying. 15 minutes, people.

  35. Robj98168 says:

    I work just down the street- I go in park, run in, If i know what I want and it’s whereabouts in the warehouse, i just run in through the exit right to it and pay, go back to my car and return to work. Takes me like 15 minutes total. always a weekday, during my lunch time. Takes a little longer if I stop to browse the as-is, which is frequently.

  36. Julian Black says:

    At my local Ikea, the cafe opens before the rest of the store. So on weekends I get there early, have a leisurely cup of coffee, and as soon as the store opens I grab what I need and go. I’m usually out of there in 10-15 minutes, maybe 20 if I’m buying furniture. If I want to browse, I go on weekday mornings when the crowds are thin.

    Knowing exactly what you want–including the name–helps. Make a list. That way, you can ask an employee “Where is the Hemnes 6-drawer chest?” and they can look it up and tell you right away.

    And while IKEA might just be the perfect store for introverts who don’t want to talk to people, asking for help in finding things, loading them onto a cart, and getting them into your car can save you a lot of time.

  37. Jenny says:

    Loading zones are for people loading their purchases, not for entitled, self-centered women who wish to stuff their face with cinnamon rolls while others wait for a parking space. Just a thought.

  38. NChan says:

    I always hit the as-is section first. Sometimes I’ll find what I want in there in a decent condition.
    If there is a piece of furniture I know I want, I go to the help desk in self-serve to find out which aisle it is.
    Fortunately, the Portland, OR, the one which I go to, has two floors, so I can skip the showroom part if I want to. For instance, if want to start from the beginning of the self-serve section, I just need to go up the entrance escalator, round the corner through the cafe and down the stairs into self-serve.

  39. Gràcia says:

    Recently we spent 3,300$ at Ikea. We got everything we needed for our new appartment (except appliances, sofa and master bed) including tealights, sheets, pillows, knives, linens, and our kitchen cabinets and did it all in 3:30 hours. Considering it was the first saturday of sales, we think we could have done it in even less time had we gone on a weekday. Our system? We carried a list with the names of every single item we wanted to buy (name, size, colour, etc). We stuck strictly to it, put everything in the van and car we took there and then went back in with the remaining 200$ from our planned budget and got some “silly” out-of-the list-stuff and some deserved lunch. We got many compliments from Ikea staff. By the way, you can check the results from that Ikea trip in our blog,http://squeeeeeze.100webspace.net/

  40. Herbie says:

    Nobody else thinks its a d-bag move to park in the loading zone so you can go inside to purchase your items?

    Maybe your loading zones are less busy than here in San Diego, but there’s usually a line of people jockeying for a space at ours.

  41. firesheep67 says:

    Priceless! This is exactly how I shop at Ikea 95% of the time (and at the same one, in Emeryville, CA). I would add that it’s best to go 1 – 1.5 hours before closing, during the week. Although between 10-1 pm during the week is also not bad.

    Ikea now offers self checkout (in E-ville) as well.

    And, last but not least, take a list!

  42. Ricky says:

    Ha! I just got home from what was SUPPOSED to be a quick trip to the Woodbridge, VA store. Ended up getting over twice as much stuff as planned.

  43. Denise says:

    Best advice I know…DO.NOT.GO.ON.WEEKENDS.
    Monday morning the place is dead.

  44. koz says:

    Parking in the loading zone is just rude.

  45. RainbowMom says:

    Hi. I found your blog on bloggers Blogs of Note on their front page. You have some good tips. I like the in through the out door.. gets you right at my favorite part of Ikea.. the AS-IS section. :) Peace.

  46. Deanna says:

    it also helps to know the layout of the store. they have all those “hidden” passageways between departments that newbies never see.

  47. adora says:

    1) Check availability online.
    2) Always check the map at the store. You don’t have to go along the arrows. There are shortcuts at the corner of every department.
    3) Avoid showroom, go straight to the store.
    4) Most important part: leave your children at home!

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