Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Wednesday January 11, 7:20 p.m.

Went up to the IKEA up in North York this afternoon to pick up a TV stand for our new flatpanel. I finally found out what the prime name in home furnishings stands for....something that I will never be able to remember. All I can say is that the inventor of acronyms should have gotten that Nobel Prize.

IKEA has been a mainstay in this part of the hemisphere for decades, but it had only encroached Japanese shores within the last 5 years. Foreign brands seem to have a 75/25 chance of making it big in Japan. Some enterprises, such as Sephora and Boots, for whatever reason, don't last more than a couple of years. Others such as Starbucks and Century 21 become fully welcomed into the Japanese commercial world. IKEA is definitely one of the latter. In fact, customers there have given the Swedish giant's name a distinctly Japanese pronounciation: if the founder were named Mr. Ikeya. Probably there are a lot of folks who think that IKEA is a Japanese firm.

The picture above is not of a Toronto branch, but of the branch in Makuhari-Messe, one of Tokyo's premier convention sites, in Chiba-ken. I'd never been there since I never owned a car during my time in Japan, and I think a driver's licence is pretty much a must to get inside. As with all successful foreign imports, the crowds flooding into the IKEA parking lot rival those entering Tokyo Disneyland every weekend. In a way, it's kinda like touring a museum of Swedish furniture exhibits except that the patrons can actually buy the art at low, low prices. And the modular nature of the goods is a perfect match for the small and austere apartments that the local demographic live in.

Just kinda wonder if the Japanese branches sell hot dog combos like they do over here.