Saturday, April 29, 2006

IKEA returns to Japan

IKEA furniture store reopened in Chiba last Monday. We went there yesterday to look for some new furniture for our new place. The prices were extremely good for Japan. Probably 1/2 price or less for similar quality. IKEA is not thought of as a place for high quality furniture in most countries---sorta like a furniture WalMart or Uniqlo. A lot of it is shoddy, particle board junk, frankly. I saw some pine dining chairs with huge knots in stressed areas which are likely to fail.

But this is Japan, and you usually get shoddy junk at more than double the price. Really good stuff is beyond the reach of most, which is why many homes are furnished with stuff that looks like college dorm junk.

People were walking around IKEA like it was Disneyland (Disneyland is only a few stations away). Some acted like they had never seen furniture before. (Of course they had, but not likely so much at reasonable prices.)

I have read a few complaints online by foreign residents who object to IKEA coming to Japan, because it will put small furniture shops out of business they fear. I have yet to speak to a Japanese who shares this socialistic concern. These same folks often whine about Starbucks coming here and putting many of the small coffee shops out of business.

How terrible. I remember a cup of coffee costing over $7 here, and it was not good coffee. You could not get a decent cup unless you were willing to part with a fortune. That is why so many people used to go to McDonald's for coffee. The coffee was garbage, but you could sit and drink it and not lose a month's pay. You had to (and still do at McDs) inhale the cigarette smoke of all the tobacco suckers, but that was true everywhere in Japan.

Now you can have a choice of coffee and coffee shops. If you want to inhale cigarettes with your coffee, you can still go to McDs, many Tullys, Dotours, and the small over-priced coffee shops. Feel free. If you want to sit in a smoke free room and have halfway decent coffee---it won't please a coffee snob, but who gives a fuck---for about half of what you used to have to pay. The rest of Japan no longer has to pay absurd prices for coffee to sustain the fetish of some guy/gal who wants only small over-priced shops catering to like-minded snobbies.

One guy told me that IKEA will probably be a "price killer" in Japan. He seemed quite pleased with that, as he and the rest of the people in his office were quite excited about IKEA opening and were all delaying furniture purchases until it did. Seems they weren't as concerned about saving the shop of the local price-gouger. Why in the hell would a foreigner be?

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