Six minutes at Ikea – a shopping speedrun

The other night I came to a dual realisation – my wife was in need of a comfortable chair for breastfeeding, and speciality nursery furniture is ridiculously expensive. The solution to both problems was a trip to Ikea – better known as a store that will leave you dazed, confused and wondering where your Saturday afternoon went – but I went in with a plan, and emerged just six minutes later with my sanity intact!

Rows of furniture boxes in the Ikea warehouse

Don’t believe that getting in and out of Ikea in six minutes is possible – here was my timeline:

  • 7:47 pm: parked car in the loading bay at Ikea Richmond
  • 7:48 pm: make my way into the store via the cash registers
  • 7:49 pm: power walked against pedestrian traffic into the warehouse
  • 7:50 pm: loaded a POÄNG chair frame and cushion into my trolley
  • 7:52 pm: [scan], [scan], [wait], [ok], [swipe] at the self checkout
  • 7:53 pm: loaded the two boxes into the back seat of my car, and drove away

Easy, isn’t it?

Light fittings and bulbs in the Ikea market hall

So what are my tips?

Plan ahead

If you know what you want to buy, the Ikea website tells you exactly where in the warehouse to pick up the boxes from, and the current stock level. No dicking around in the showroom with those stupid little gold pencils to find out which aisle and bay to visit!

Ignore Ikea’s directions

Ikea wants you to walk through the store in the order that they want, sending you in circles before you eventually get to the items that you are actually there to buy.

Even the token ‘shortcuts’ don’t save much time – if you know what you are looking for, walking in the back door will probably save you time.

Visit during the quiet periods

This goes without saying – weekends are primetime for Ikea shopping. However, they also open late at night on weekdays – I went there on a Thursday night an hour before closing time, and the loading dock was almost empty, with only a handful of customers inside the store.

Avoid the car park

The Ikea Richmond store at Victoria Gardens has a horribly complicated car park – if you pick the wrong section you’ll spend 15 minute driving up ramps between your parking spot and the loading dock!

Yes, parking your car in the loading dock is against the spirit of a ‘loading dock’ – but when there are dozens of spare spaces and you are in and out in six minutes, you’re occupying a parking space for less time than the idiot who is there for 20 minutes trying to cram two couches into their hatchback.

Getting in and out of Ikea in six minutes is fast, but believe it or not, I could have been even faster!

Firstly, Ikea doesn’t make it easy to collect a trolley – you can only find them at the entrance to the warehouse, or abandoned on the loading dock. I wasted a precious minute (shock horror!) walking through the warehouse in order to collect one.

Next – self-service checkouts. When I jammed my credit card into the machine when I went to pay, I discovered that the EFTPOS readers aren’t bolted down, causing the thing to fall on the floor and display a ‘please contact a staff member’ message. I wasted another minute repeating the process at the checkout next door – by the time I had paid on the second register, someone had come over to assist at my original register. I won’t be making this mistake again!

More Ikea speedruns

Two hours spent driving across San Francisco and buying four sets of Ikea bookshelves was a speedrun for this LiveJournal poster.

The creator of this meme thinks getting in and out of Ikea in 20 minutes is a speedrun – pffff!

However my toughest competition is this German couple – their YouTube video shows them getting in and out in just five minutes, including a trip through the market hall to pick up a plant. Their only flaw – they edited out the bit where they wait in line at the cash register.

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12 Responses to “Six minutes at Ikea – a shopping speedrun”

  1. Moya says:

    You’re my new hero.

    Although I enjoy the full Ikea retail experience, and sometimes set aside a whole afternoon for browsing, admiring new, clever products and relaxing with friends in the caf

  2. Tim says:

    What? How? Don’t they force you to go through the entire place?

  3. Chris Gordon says:

    The real challenge is to take the wife and kid when he is a bit older and see how long you take!

  4. Andrew says:

    Yep, that’s exactly how I do it. Walk in through the cash registers, grab the item from the warehouse, straight out. At Springvale you can even park right next to the loading bay.

    I can’t do it when I’m at Ikea with my wife or son, though. They want to do the great way round. And we invariably come out with more photo frames…

  5. andrew says:

    It’s actually way, way, easier to get in and out than the multilevel maze that is parking at Victoria Gardens. Bonus maze points at Victoria Gardens if you go when it is busy and they close off aisles and you get queues building up. Of course, just like the store, there is the short cut from the back entrance direct to the IKEA loading bay 🙂

    Springvale has only got two levels of parking (and, indeed, I’ve only used the top one), the parking extends the whole area of the building, and it’s largely open (so it’s easy to keep your orientation).

    The IKEA entrance and loading bay are separated by about 100 metres. Most people try and park near the entrance. (My family refuses to park near the loading bay because that is the ‘exit’. I’ve given up trying to argue with them 🙂

    • Marcus Wong says:

      I’ve since visited Ikea Springvale a few times – and discovered the you are allowed to take their trolleys to your car, so there is no need to use the loading dock at all. 😛

  6. Alison says:

    Hi – can you tell me how to get straight to the loading bay? I’m trying to work it out on google maps and can’t. Thanks!

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