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From Home Furnishing Business

From the Editor: On a Mission

By Sheila Long O’Mara

Here’s the scenario. Four women, one car, and a Friday afternoon and an all-day Saturday shop-a-palooza in Charlotte. Mission No. 1—hit Ikea so one of my friends could make her first-ever trek to the behemoth home furnishings retailer. Mission No. 2—keep aforementioned gal away from her Columbia, S.C., home for about 36 hours so her family could prep for a HUGE surprise party. Mission No. 1 came out of Mission No. 2 in a roundabout way.

Plans were set to run away from our homes and families Friday afternoon, have a great dinner in Charlotte, spend the night and shop all day Saturday before heading home, the suspect—or she might now say victim— decided we should venture out of town early. That way, we could accompany her to Ikea to check out sofa sleeper options for the family beach house. Her decision nearly derailed the entire plan, but that’s another story.

Also on the list of stores to hit—Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. RH had a shower curtain she’d been eyeing, and a matelasse comforter that another one in the crowd wanted to see. Don’t ask who was interested in Pottery Barn or even what was on the list there; we only did a quick-moving breeze through the store at SouthPark Saturday afternoon.

It seems like many consumers these days, we became distracted by the apparel and shoe sale racks and new season designs. Those are the stores that captured our attention and some of our dollars. But, I digress. Back to Ikea, simply because it was our first stop of the adventure.

On my best of days, I get overwhelmed in an Ikea store. The stores are huge, have a zillion little “shortcuts” designed to move you quickly from one area of the store to another, and darn near require a map to navigate the floor plan. This particular day required focus. Focus to keep the devious plan on track all the while being distracted by one of my co-conspirators about to burst from keeping the real mission under wraps. She’s like a three-year-old trying to keep a secret!

But here are a few tidbits that I took away from our FOUR-PLUS hours in the Charlotte Ikea. There’s no way one can walk into that store without buying something. It may not be a sofa sleeper—that mission fell way short—but something will always be bought. Maybe it’s the excitement of the hunt or the group shopping or the sometimes shockingly low prices, but the four of us left with a hodge podge of items.

The tally from the four of us looked something like this. Four sets of 99-cent funnels. We all snagged a set of two. Three down throw pillow inserts, a glass salad bowl, plastic kitchen storage containers, five wire bins, four curtain wires and clips for a back porch, a whisk, a set of wine glasses and four sodas to go. The takeaway? You never know what little item will strike someone’s fancy. Sometimes the cash-and-cary items can keep registers singing. By the way. The party was a hit and we all managed to keep the secret.

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