11 IKEA Shopping Tips

IKEA St. Louis opens in just 3 short days, and I am over-the-moon! I’ve waited for this day for years (perhaps decades, if I’m being truly honest) and now it is finally here. So I’m deep in the planning process for my first official IKEA St. Louis shopping trip.

Whether you’re going to brave the crowds at the IKEA St. Louis Grand Opening, or you plan to go once the crowds diminish a bit, or you shop at a different IKEA altogether, the following tips will help you make the most of your next IKEA shopping trip.

1. Understand the IKEA shopping experience. Shopping at IKEA is like shopping nowhere else. To understand what I mean, let’s start by talking about the store layout. The IKEA St. Louis store is two levels. On the top level you’ll find the Showroom along with the Restaurant & Cafe. The showroom is designed to inspire shoppers by showing IKEA furnishings and accessories in real-life settings. IKEA offers a variety of styles and price points, so you’re sure to find something that matches your sense of style and budget.

IKEA Kids Room
The St. Louis Showroom features 46 room settings and 3 complete homes. These complete homes are pretty amazing. They’ll give you tons of ideas for creating an organized, functional and beautiful home even when space is at a perimium. If you believe a lack of space is preventing you from being organized, these homes will inspire you to think differently. What’s more, IKEA makes it super easy to recreate the look of any of the inspiration rooms in your own home. They include one sheeters with info about the products featured in the room, and even display the paint colors, flooring, tile, and other items used in the space.

IKEA Inspiration Room

2. Browse first. Shop second. For the most part, you’ll do the majority of your actual shopping on the first floor of IKEA after browsing the Showroom. You can pick up a some of the smaller items in the Showroom, but the bulk of your shopping will be done on the first floor in the Marketplace and Self-Serve Furniture area. The Marketplace is where you’ll pick up storage containers, cookware, rugs, pillows, bedding, picture frames and clocks, etc. You can then enter the Self-Serve Furniture Area to collect flat packages that contain everything you need to assemble your new furniture at home. If you’re intimidated by that, IKEA stores offer home delivery and assembly services at reasonable rates.

IKEA Couches

3. Plan ahead. It’s a great idea to do some planning before venturing to an IKEA, especially if you want to stick to a budget or you have a specific item to purchase or organizing / decorating dilemma to solve. Browse through the catalog and make a list of items to check out and/or purchase.

IKEA Catalog

4. BYOB:  Bring your own bag! IKEA doesn’t offer disposable plastic bags during the checkout process, so bring some reusable bags from home or purchase a durable, multi-purpose IKEA blue reusable shopping bag.

5. Know what IKEA provides. IKEA makes available all sorts of amenities to enhance your shopping experience. They provide pencils and shopping lists to jot down items to purchase as you browse through the Showroom. You can also find tape measures, store maps, IKEA catalogs, shopping carts, big yellow shopping bags (for in-store shopping) and strollers. For children 37”-54” tall, there is also Småland, a supervised play area modeled after a Swedish farmhouse and forest.

IKEA Yellow Shopping Bags

6. Plan to stop at the Restaurant & Cafe. If you’re headed to IKEA for the very first time, plan to make a visit to the Restaurant & Cafe. It’s a great way to process all the ideas you’ll be bombarded with during your stroll through the showroom. Plus you’ll get to try some pretty delicious Swedish food, including Swedish Meatballs and new veggie balls. (Can’t wait to try those!)

IKEA St Louis Restaurant

IKEA St Louis Restaurant

7. Check out the tag. All IKEA products have a price tag which includes all sorts of other handy info such as product name, size, color, measurements, features, and customer benefits. But even more important, the tag will tell you where you can pick-up the item for purchase. You’ll find red tags on smaller items, accessories and furniture that you can pick up in the Marketplace or Self-Serve Furniture Area (indicated by Aisle and Bin numbers). Yellow tags mean the product can be retrieved at the Furniture Pick-up area where IKEA employees will help with heavier items such as sofas and appliances. (By the way, that yellow tag is for a piece of furniture not pictured in the photo.)

IKEA Pillow

9. Consider IKEA Services. IKEA offers delivery where you can buy as much as you want and have your items delivered for one low price. Delivery is based on the location of your home and starts at $59. IKEA also offers shopping list picking with delivery service (available only as a combined package). With this service, you can have IKEA pick up your order and deliver it to your house. This service begins at at $99, depending on delivery zip code.

10. Consider skipping the assembly.  IKEA offers ready to assemble furniture which is why you can find things at such amazing prices. As they like to say: You do a little. We do a little. You save a lot! But if RTA furniture isn’t your thing, IKEA can recommend an independent in-home assembly service.

11. Consider joining IKEA FAMILY. IKEA offers a free loyalty program called IKEA family. You  can sign up online, or if you sign up via one of the kiosks at IKEA, you can get your membership card right away. IKEA FAMILY members get great benefits such as discounts throughout the store; free coffee and hot tea in the Restaurant; extra 30 minutes in Småland during non-peak periods; the chance to win a $100 IKEA gift card in a monthly sweepstakes; and access to a special IKEA FAMILY website where members can find out about current offers, promotions and events, plus receive tailored savings offers based on your profile. I’ll be signing up during my first shopping trip!

So there you have it! A few simple tips to help you make the most of your next IKEA trip. If you’d like even more tips, check out my earlier IKEA Shopping Tips blog post. If you’re an IKEA shopping expert, please share your tips in the comments. Can’t wait to hear what ideas you have for a super fun and productive IKEA shopping trip.