Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Traveling to Target & Ikea

Whenever I’m outside of New York City, I love to visit the big box stores, so Ikea and Target are stops I’m always excited to make if it works out. While we have access to these stores in New York, they are not terribly convenient to get to from most of Manhattan, and when I’ve taken the trip, the shelves are far more empty than those outside of NYC I’ve visited. In addition to the easy of location and better product choices, the sales tax is nearly always less than our 8.875%, making it a much better experience all around than we tend to get in NYC.

I see these stores as very useful for certain things – either for finding furniture that fits a particular space for the time being and will be upgraded later, or for finding small and useful household items, particularly those for the bathroom.

When I moved to NYC, Target and Ikea were both good places to find small furniture that fit my needs. Other than a couple items, the furniture my family offered me was mostly too big for the small or awkward spaces I needed to fit. Luckily, both stores sell tables and such that are sized in a way that they work well in small and often oddly laid out apartments. Knowing that I would not live with roommates forever, the other benefit was that I could purchase this “disposable” furniture and plan to swap it out down the road for higher quality long-term options.

Besides the physical constraints, 22 year olds don't always know how to take care of furniture that's been passed down -- as responsible as I may have been, I'm not certain my roommates and I would have been careful enough. For instance, my father may not have wanted me to have the cherry wood dining table when I was younger, but now that I have a better place for it, the table is one of my most-loved pieces of furniture and I feel confident that I can take good care of it. Several years ago, however, Ikea was a better fit to fill the role of the only table we had room for, as well as a microwave stand. I'm glad I got to upgrade, but I'm also glad I didn't have to worry about the cherry table when i first lived in the city.

When it comes to what I like to find at these stores now, it varies a little. I usually keep a running list on my phone of items I don’t need this minute but are good items to look for at one of these stores. It gives me the chance to check out prices, and unlike purchasing online, I can see if they look cheap in person, or if they will do for my needs. Sometimes this list includes things like a pajama set or socks, but for the most part, I let my big box purchases stick to the useful things around the house I’m just looking for a good price on. Often, these are still things I expect to swap out later for better quality, but sometimes they are things I love as is.

Here’s what I bought on my most recent trip to Ikea (in Connecticut) and Target (in Maryland), if you'd like to see...

Recent Target Choices:

Shoe heel inserts.
I like to have these little pads on hand for when a pair of shoes stretched just a little too much to be comfortable, because they help make the fit just slightly smaller. They are also great for a pair of shoes that refuses to break in and quit rubbing the heel raw.

Gift bags and tissue paper.
I get sticker-shock over gift bags and tissue paper all the time. Thankfully, Target has very reasonable prices on cute options.

Recent Ikea Choices:

Small wood frames.
My brother sent me this card from Rowanda, and I like what’s written inside each as much as the printed outside, so now I can frame it and see it every day.

A candle.
My last round candle came from Mackenzie-Childs and it looks great on its stand, but Ikea had a good price for a new one.

Tea towels.
The price just cannot be beat, and Ikea's are usually simple enough to go in any decor.

A small drying rack.
Truly one of the most useful things a person living in a small space can buy. I used my last one for seven years before it broke, and it was worth every penny because it takes up very little space when it’s closed, can be hung anywhere, and makes drying tights and other delicates so much easier than hanging them over the shower rod -- to use the shower, just move the whole octopus.

If you're traveling past a big box store this Thanksgiving, I hope you'll get to make a shopping stop to pick up some fun, useful items before the holiday shopping gets too crazy. I know I would want to!

First image from here, third image from here, and last image from here.


"There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- God damn it, you've got to be kind."
-Kurt Vonnegut