Thursday, December 08, 2011

427,000 feet of commercialism (a.k.a. new IKEA in Ottawa)

Yesterday Ottawa celebrated the grand opening of Canada’s largest IKEA store. The local paper reported that prior to doors opening, “IKEA employees warmed up the shoppers by pounding plastic "thundersticks" and chanting IKEA! IKEA! as dance tunes blared from huge speakers.” During the opening ceremony, both the Canadian and Swedish national anthems were played while flags were raised. Why are national anthems being played at the opening of the biggest big-box store in town?? Commercialism = nationalism?

As someone tweeted yesterday: ‘People are willing to line up at night to get into the new Ikea but don’t vote because, “It takes too long.”' Democracy loses to desk lamp.

The multi-level Ottawa IKEA store is 427,000 square feet of ‘Swedish style’. To navigate the mazelike interior, which is “purposely organized to confuse shoppers into buying more than they ever planned,” one must follow 1.3 kilometres of arrows from entrance to checkout.

IKEA had expected more than 14,000 people to visit the store on the first day. All staff – including many new hires - were on-site. Although only a few hundred customers showed up, the opening is still being celebrated as a success and there’s little doubt that the giant store will be a prime shopping destination during and beyond the holiday season.

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for IKEA’s style. I like the clean lines, the primary colours, the functionality – and even the challenge of building my own furniture. This doesn’t mean I’m buying into the craze.

We all know IKEA is a massive, global retail giant. But did you know it’s actually, a Dutch charity? Well, not a charity in the sense of an organization for humanitarian benefit, but rather the ingenious construct of financial loopholes which allow the world’s richest foundation (a.k.a. IKEA owners) to find safe-haven in charitable status with minimal taxes or disclosure.

Despite branding, the store has not been legally Swedish since the early 1980s. What they actually do is provide “Scandinavian designs at Asian prices” through a private Dutch-registered, tax-exempt, ‘non-profit-making’ company dedicated (not to alleviating poverty or curing communicable disease) to “innovation in the field of architectural and interior design”.

Hooray for disposable culture and those making millions off it.

No comments:

Post a Comment