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10 IKEA Shopping Tricks to Know Before Your Next Visit

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It’s no secret around here that we love a good IKEA hack—but for the real insider secrets, there’s no better source to turn to than the company employees themselves. They’re constantly immersed in the world of flat-pack furniture day in and day out, after all.

So we turned to the experts for the inside scoop on how to get the most out of your trip to the store. Between the perennial font of wisdom that is Reddit (it’s teeming with IKEA employees) and a few helpful shopping tricks straight from the retailer’s spokesperson, here are all the tips we’re jotting down for our next visit. Don’t forget your Frakta bag.

Employees Are Master Assemblers

If you fear struggling to understand the cryptic graphic instructions once you bring that tiered pendant light home, ask an employee for the rundown. According to user dallasguy321, IKEA workers are the ones who build everything—from the racks to the display furniture—that lives in the store. Reddit user _epimetheus agrees, adding that furniture assembly is actually part of the training for people working in sales.

You Should Also Ask Them for Styling Tips

When one Reddit user asked what was up with the confusing store layouts, user hodydody responded with a straightforward answer (it’s to make stealing more difficult for shoplifters) and also provided some insight into the hiring process: IKEA asks prospective sales associates to pick one item and describe different creative ways to use it. So the next time you’re feeling stuck on how to make your Billy bookcase not look like, well, a Billy bookcase, ask an employee for pointers.  

There Is a Best Time to Shop to Avoid the Lines

The earlier, the better. According to an AMA posted by user algren123, people arrive before the store is open and create an immediate rush. But to truly avoid the massive lines at checkout, your best bet is to arrive 30 minutes to an hour after opening. Oh, and avoid weekends at all costs: It’s when the stores are the most crowded.

Slide Into IKEA’s DMs for the Quickest Advice

The power of Instagram transcends the likes you’ll get on those pretty pictures of your finished IKEA furniture. User algren123 suggests contacting your respective branch via the social networking app (@ikeausa, for example) for help troubleshooting a problem fast—at the very least, it will save you a trip to the store.

Keep an Eye Out for Shortcuts

Stuck in the maze? Look for blue 3’x3’ rectangles; per Reddit user NickNak113, they indicate cut-throughs to the next department. 

You Can Make Money With Your Family Card

Not only is it free, it also opens up a world of savings and cool perks. Free coffee or tea at the stores is the least of them: User _epimetheus points out that with a Family card, you also get a 90-day price check. In other words, if a product you bought with your card goes on sale within 90 days after your purchase, IKEA will refund you the difference.

There’s a Place You Can Go to Get Those Missing Screws

It’s called Spare Parts in the Returns/Exchanges section of the store.

Don’t Forget the Sale Section

First of all, it’s actually called the As-Is section, and according to IKEA’s U.S. design spokesperson, Janice Simonsen, it’s where you’ll find discounted products from closeouts or displays. You’ll also discover mildly scratched or damaged items…most of which are perfectly fine, especially if you’re in the market for basics.

Plan to Go Around Lunchtime

Algren123 is a staunch advocate of the meatballs, stating that for £5 (around $6) you get 15 meatballs and fries. That’s not the only great deal at the restaurant—for example, kids eat free on Tuesday, and coffee is on the house for all IKEA Family members.

The Staff Definitely Has Favorites

Debating between the Lack and Docksta dining tables? Ask an employee to weigh in. There are a few IKEA tried-and-true staples that are eternal favorites—specifically, the Hemnes line. According to algren123, the price-to-quality ratio is second to none. User _epimetheus also recommends the Alex drawers and Kallax bookshelf. See? We knew it was a winner.

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See more IKEA stories to read now: 6 New IKEA Projects That We Are Super-Excited About How to Hack Your IKEA Kitchen on a Budget 10 Really Great Travel Accessories You Can Buy at IKEA

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.