Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell

IKEA - Evil Empire? Part 1

Brooklyn recently became home to an IKEA. While I have not been this particular store, a friend of mine has happily taken the trip many times. She raves about the product design and the price. She even remembers some product names. (I do own an IKEA bed and stool, but had to unload the down comforter because it terrified a cat.)

Shell devotes an entire chapter to IKEA. She visits the corporate headquarters, where upper management appears to be doing its best to indoctrinate the employees. She gives a detailed description of an IKEA commercial about a homeless lamp (my response was totally opposite the one that IKEA wanted - I felt the urge to rescue the newly abandoned lamp).

More importantly, she casts doubt on its environmentally-friendly reputation. It is possible that the wood is being logged from the rapidly depleting forests of Siberia. It is hard to document the origin of the wood, and in fact IKEA ignores a local downed forest in seach of foreign woods. It did, however, hire Brooklyn locals to work at the store.


Anonymous said...

Who can defend a company that's cutting corners and making morally questionable decisions? We as consumers almost invite this behavior in our quest to save money. It's tough to criticize thrift these days. Maybe all price tags must show a moral price as well as the cash price?

Tracey said...


You are thinking in terms of the big picture. Most people get a catalog, thinks something looks good, go to IKEA, and buy the item. The design makes up for the fact that it is actually flimsy and disposable. People have been trained to spend money on impermanent items so they don't calculate that it might be cheaper over time to buy a more expensive item.

Anonymous said...

I guess I thought that IKEA customers understood that they were just getting cheap furniture that was suitable for the short term - for kids, students, etc. Are IKEA products considered flimsy enough to be a ripoff?

Oscar W. said...

That can be a dilemma for people, especially now with credit cards being more restrictive. Maybe it is cheaper over time to buy something more expensive, but that depends on someone saving up enough to buy it up front or being able to finance it without incurring too much interest.