16 Jun 2007

If a rectangle and a square cause you to think in punctuation marks or if you’re looking at a mimeographed Communist leaflet instead of the instruction booklet, then call Ikea. Make sure to use the phone that is directly attached to the building or your call won’t go through.


IKEA is coming to Dublin. This story got almost as many column inches in the newspapers as did the pretend-negotiations for the formation of the new Soprano regime. I heard someone on the radio call the Bord Planala decision to allow the development to go ahead as ‘hugely controversial’.  Huge controversial? I mean, really. Every nowhere town on the planet has an IKEA near a roundabout somewhere on its outskirts: what makes Dublin so different?


A shrill and mindless media, of course.


The opposition to the Swedish furniture store’s arrival in Ireland stems from an anti-IKEA, anti-everything, cultural superiority which has always found an excuse for itself in American sub-culture. Sadly, this we-know-better conservatism is given exaggerated importance by sections of the Irish media (for some reason, my mind by default is settling on the Irish Times... can’t think why) who always find a reason to trip something up if they think its beneath them. In this case it was traffic.


Whether you like it or not, IKEA stores are found near medium sized cities everywhere. The company offers a good service for ordinary, middle income people concerned with providing half decent living spaces for their families. To the best of my knowledge, they don’t use child labour in third world countries (actually I don’t know this for a fact). Shopping in IKEA does not bring traffic in other cities as relatively small and globally unimportant as Dublin to its knees. In fact, many IKEA stores are located off small roads in the back end of tightly squeezed industrial-style retail parks and ordinary families arrive at them every day of the week to buy towels, garden furniture and computer desks without making it onto the front page of the newspapers. There’s nothing newsworthy about the arrival of IKEA. So get over it. 


(Actually, as a bit of a sidebar, in a story which never made it over here, IKEA Cardiff did notice occasional traffic jams being caused by massive surges of Irish registered cars arriving at their store. But the full car park was not being reflected in till receipts. What was going on? Turns out it was just savvy Irish rugby fans taking advantage of the only free parking within walking(ish) distance of the Millennium Stadium.) 

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