|Most of the front of the Bangna Mall location on the outskirts of Bangkok|
IKEA began as the brainchild of Ingvar Kamprad (a Swedish man) back in 1943, but has grown into a huge corporation now operating over 340 stores in at least 39 countries. They specialize in furniture and other housewares, the furniture often sold as "assemble yourself" kits. In years past they were known to be challenging to assemble, even if all of the parts were in the box when you got it home. Thankfully they've made great improvements over the years and their products are far more dependably manufactured and packaged.
When I read they were to open their first store in Thailand I was intrigued: how would their style and selection be received? It turns out they were both accepted and very popular. Part of that popularity most likely came from their TV ads, which have always been entertaining...
Quick and to the point, often clever and, some might say, borderline suggestive ads - one featured a child giggling over a personal vibrator - have been rolled out to regional audiences, such as this one of a Thai husband and wife who find some new spark for their relationship in this one:
One of their more recent ads (below) showed a man with his ladyboy partner and drew some criticism from the transgendered community, but still... it's clever:
If you're taking highway 3 to Chonburi you're likely to see the Mega Mall on your right as you're approaching highway 9... that distinctive IKEA sign sticking up into the sky is hard to miss, haze permitting.
There are precious few examples of differences between the Thai store and the ones I've visited here in the U.S., other than the English/Thai signage for items, but there are of course items in stock that might be more popular to a regional clientele.
|Past the check-out area at IKEA Bangna|
We'll see the new-ish, and quite modern Bangna Mega Mall in another post, but here's an image of one of the interior display islands that line the main aisles, featuring IKEA items:
There had recently been a recall of the Swedish meatballs that are somewhat of a staple of the store's cafeterias most places - something to do with bacteria in the beef they used - so I couldn't sit and have my usual "comfort food" there, but they did have a black pepper pork steak plate that was spicy enough for most locals, I'd guess.
Oddly enough (or not) the longer lines were at the snack bar outside the check-out area on the main floor, which featured a Thai version of hot dogs, fries and soft-serve ice cream cones.
One evening after my friend returned from work we took a run out to the Mega Mall to have dinner and catch a movie and since he'd never heard of IKEA I walked him through it. He saw several things he said he'd come back to pick up for his new room. I'm waiting to see how well his patience holds out while assembling them!
|Map of the area of the Bangna IKEA, from their web site|