Oh. My. God. I've just returned from a lunchtime press preview for the new IKEA out by Portland International Airport (it opens today to the public). And, I have to say, I haven't been this excited by a new biz opening since Krispy Kreme sunk its dough down in P-town in 2003.
Of course, this wasn't the first IKEA I've stepped into. Like any homo-erector, I've made many pilgrimages to the Renton, Wash., outlet to stock up on cheaply made, unassembled furnishings at prices only an impulse bargain hunter like myself will drive hours for. On those jaunts up north, my partner and I had our rituals: hit Seattle, gas up in Fife and pick up a few Krispy Kremes outside Tacoma. Heavy sigh. I'm going to miss those trips.
Now, I know I should thank those omnipotent Swedes who decided it was high time PDX finally got an IKEA. And, in a word, this one is sweet. First off, you don't need a map to maneuver the lot, although you might need one to get through the two-story, 280,000-square-foot store with 53 "inspirational" room settings and three model homes. You'll also need an empty tummy. The cafeteria, with its pastoral parking-lot view, has a killer 99 cent eggs, potatoes and bacon special that's offered a half-hour before the store opens, as well as those addictive-as-crack Swedish meatballs.
I do have one fear. Now that it'll take me all of 10 minutes to get to my personal shopping mecca, will I still find myself wanting to take that holy trek?
It's what I call the "Krispy Kreme Conundrum." When the iconic double-K opened its doors in '03, there were long lines, loads of press and plenty of us who thought nothing of driving out to Clackamas—in the middle of the night—just so we could eat a doughnut. And now? Well, not so much. In fact, I can't recall the last time I bit into all that fluffiness, and I've noticed Krispy Kreme is no longer open 24 hours a day. I realize IKEA has more to offer than just "glazed" or "powdered," but I can't help thinking that, once I get over my initial enthusiasm (and what I'm sure will be a hefty credit card bill), I'll find myself wishing for the days when a road trip included a stop in IKEA's "as is" section.
Or maybe I'll head in a different direction: It's sort of like coming out of the closet (and I'm not talking about IKEA's sleek $299 HEMNES wardrobe). Once you finally get to indulge in a pleasure that you've been denied for so long, you can't help yourself. You just want to roll around like a pig with it, whether it be a stud named Karl or a Karlstad sofa bed. Hell, it's the gay—and American—way. And I'm sure, like many of you, I'll end up making plenty of purchases that I'll regret in the morning. Right now, I'm itching to get my hands on a key-shaped red clock with a secret compartment. Where's that credit card?
IKEA Portland, 10280 NE Cascades Parkway, 282-4532. Open 10 am-9 pm Monday-Sunday. For more IKEA shots, go to wweek.com.