Saturday, 30 August 2014

The first inner-city IKEA, around the corner from us!

Of all places around the globe, IKEA decided to open its first inner-city furniture store right smack dab in Altona, our district in Hamburg. Owners of an IKEA Family card, we were invited for the pre-opening this summer and decided to have a look-see ourselves, what the fuss has all been about. 

This particular corner of Altona has suffered from an old department store being abandoned and, while rented out to a great group of artists, Frappant e.V., left to rot by its owners. The announcement that IKEA had bought the property and would be building there caused plenty of ruckus here, requiring a vote by the locals and relocation of the artists. As is often the case with big changes like this, they bring lots of investment, and with that renovation and business with them, but also what is called 'gentrification', and significantly higher rents. The area definitely needed some care, but it is a shame when locals cannot afford to stay on their home turf. However, one can't deny that the developments have brought many lovely things to this area. Next to Claus Kröger Kaffee und Süßwaren, which has held out here for decades, there are now plenty of lovely coffee houses popping up, such as Klipp Kroog, which has become so popular it is often bursting, a cute crafts and sewing accessory store, Frau Tulpe, the Makers Hub and many others.  

I have to admit, for all those who turn their nose up at it due to its mass appeal, we are IKEA fans. Our flat is furnished in what is for us a lovely balance of IKEA and antique furniture, which meets our needs, mostly in shades of white, with some bright highlights. Probably a bit colourful for some, but we like it. 

Anyone expecting an anti-IKEA tirade should probably stop reading here. 

On to the important things: how was it? 

Having arrived there, Baby, buggy and all, we were pleasantly surprised not to find a block of corrugated steel and to finally see the building finished. The work had caused some disruption on this particular road and it is nice to be able to access the whole side-walk again. 

Of course it was pleasant that the place was not teeming with people, always an advantage in a furniture store. There are 3 floors (including the ground floor), with the bulk of products that you pick up yourself on the top floor. Not exactly intuitive, statically speaking, but it seems to work. Cudos to the brave architect!

I will refrain from counting up all you can find where, as that will bore you and me, but here are some of my highlights: 

  • the PS range area on the ground floor. I love! If only we had more space at home (apart from for the metal clothing cage, don't really get that - doesn't your clothing get dusty in there?) I would be taking home the desk and the salmon coloured corner unit for sure! Also very cool: the sci-fi-like lamp that opens and closes at a pull of the strings. 

  • the stairwell and escalators: light and attractive, featuring separate escalators for your buggy.  

  • the large and well-lit eating area

  • all the work IKEA has done with local stores and companies, featuring them in their ads and giving them extra exposure. 
  • the fact that you can get there by public transport and don't have to trek to the suburbs in your car. In addition, they have come up with several new ways to get your shopping home, adapted to the inner-city location, such as renting sack barrows, bike trailers, bike couriers...... 
  • of course, it didn't hurt that we got free bubbly too!

It is also nice to see that they have taken aspects of Hamburg into their displays and store, decorating it with sky-line views and symbols closely associated with the city.

One small difficulty we had when using the elevators: pay attention which ones you use! They do not all access all the floors of the building. After trying twice to go to the first floor with a lift that did not go there, we were rescued by a friendly employee and pointed in the right direction. 

Hope you enjoyed our little adventure and, to all of those in the neighbourhood, have fun discovering the store. We wish success and good business to all! 

PS: And now that IKEA have decided to introduce an unlimiated returns policy, including even used goods, in Germany, from this Monday, you might be seeing us there more often! :) 

PPS: Das ist der englische Artikel über die IKEA Eröffnung in Altona! 

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