Oh Tyler, Deliver Me from Swedish Furniture

This is a letter I’m sending to the Kansas City Star in response to an article in yesterday’s paper. You can read the original article here.

To Stacy Downs:

I was surprised to find your three-page advertisement for Ikea was mislabeled as an “article” in House and Home. At first glance, I thought you were announcing the opening of a new Ikea branch. But that might actually be useful news for Kansas City citizens. Instead, we are urged to drive a trailer 440 miles across country to the Ikea in Minneapolis, as a way of getting around KC’s embarrassing lack of Swedish furniture stores. You’ve provided us with this ridiculous advertisement that at best causes groans from readers, and at worst causes envy and discontent with our own fair city. To publish an article like this makes you appear either as completely incompetent as a research reporter, or assistant to corporate propaganda of the worst kind.

I believe these quotes in particular prove my point:

“I stopped frequently throughout the cooking section, where my eyes grew big because of the small prices.”

“Plan to use a car with ample trunk space…consider a sport-utility vehicle, van or truck.”

“If you see an item you like, grab it because it’s difficult to go back to areas of the store…”

and my favorite,

“A weekly or monthly shuttle service [from KC to Minneapolis] would be great…So many people would use the service.”

Really? How many actual people do you know would make the 12hr round trip EVERY WEEK to shop at Ikea? Why would you write something so dripping in corporate marketing? After reading this, I did an internet search for “Ikea road trip” because your article sounded like it could have been written by Ikea and distributed to newspapers across the nation, for their journalists to fill in the blanks.

I understand, the House and Home section of the Kansas City Star is not the place to find world-changing news or literary masterpieces. But if your job is to write about interior decorating ideas and projects that are unique or local to the area…why does your article sing praises to a mega-corporation that doesn’t even register KC on its radar?!?!

I don’t wax political or financial very often, and I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, but I have to say: There’s no way we can pull out of a recession if people think they have to blow 880 miles worth of gas to buy cheap furniture in a different region, contributing to Minnesota taxes and sending big chunks of KC money to a Swedish mega corporation. No offense to Minnesota or Sweden: I love you guys, but I’d prefer our money support local small businesses, or at least stay in the MO/KS area.

So as much as I like Ikea (which I actually do: my Ivar shelving system rocks), I’m not signing up for getting flat-packed onto a shuttle and getting shipped all over the country. Not in the name of home decorating.