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How Trump ruined IKEA in the US

I’ve been working from home since March and while my “office” in a second bedroom is ok, I really wanted a dedicated office space in my house. I have a third small bedroom that for now is just collecting stuff. It’s just the right size and since I’ll be working from home for at least another 5 months, this summer seemed like the perfect time to make it my new office.

So I found an inspiration photo that kind of matches the room dimensions. Here it is:

Ahhhh, the cool white serenity. It’s beautiful. I have the daybed. Check! I have the window. Check! I have white oak floors but they’re sort of golden. Well, I have a rug in mind. What do I need? A desk! Yeah, I could probably move my current desk to the new space but it’s too wide for this little room. It belongs in the second bedroom. No worries, I see one on IKEA’s website that will work just fine. It’s long enough for two monitors. It’s priced right. Yes! Let’s go get it!

Wah-wah-waaaahhhhh.

The website said that IKEA Pittsburgh was out of stock. It would be in stock in mid July. Scratch that. Mid August. Scratch that. Mid September.

There is a big notice on the IKEA site to the effect that they are experiencing shipping delays, yadayadayada. In fact, this desk is not the only thing IKEA Pittsburgh is out of. It’s like every other thing I might want is also “Out of stock” with a very long estimated wait time that seems subject to endless extensions. That’s not counting the questionable stocking choices that IKEA Pittsburgh has decided on that makes it next to impossible for me to get a matching vikhammer nightstand now that the Pittsburgh franchise has decided not to carry it anymore, substituting a smaller, inferior, non-matching alternative, but I digress. (Note to self: if you are buying a nightstand and don’t know if it will fit, buy two! That way, if it does fit, you won’t spend hours searching for an IKEA on the east coast that is close enough to drive to in order to get the matching item at a franchise store that seems to have much better taste than IKEA Pittsburgh. Can you tell how peeved I am by this??).

I thought about buying a desk off of craigslist and painting it. But I can’t find anything not clunky. None of the other sources are quite right or too expensive. The IKEA desk that looks closest to the inspiration photo is a tad too small. And besides it’s “out of stock” as well. So, I’m stuck waiting for this Alex desk to come in. It doesn’t matter what color it is, I’m spray painting it to the dark gray or black of the photo. It’s just a waiting game.

But why are we waiting? It’s not just the desks that are out of stock. It’s a LOT of IKEA stock. And it might not be just the shipping issues that have been complicated by USPS slow downs and frantic reshuffling as all the freight companies get in on the action.

Oh, no, friends. We need to blame this on the stupid tariffs Trump imposed. Yep.

Here’s what happened.

There was a plant in VIRGINIA, USA, that made IKEA products. I use the past tense because IKEA closed it last year. See this post by CNN:

London(CNN Business)Ikea is shutting down its only furniture factory in the United States.

The Swedish company will end production this December at its plant in Danville, Virginia. Operations will move to Europe, where the companysays it can cut costs.

“We made every effort to improve and maintain the competitiveness of this plant, but unfortunately the right cost conditions are not in place to continue production in Danville,” site manager Bert Eades said in a statement.

The piece is a little confusing. It says IKEA was concerned about the increasing costs of raw materials and that it was NOT concerned about the cost of raw materials. But it looks like even though some materials were made domestically, the rawer, raw materials were made in China and those new tariff costs were going to get passed along.

The other IKEA business decisions were also unlucky. They predicted a lot more ship-to-consumer stuff and smaller showrooms in young market cities. The first one seems almost reasonable except you can’t get IKEA USA to actually, you know, *ship* a vikhammer nightstand from IKEA Newark to the consumer in Pittsburgh who wants one. That’s franchise to franchise and IKEA US doesn’t do things that way.

Then there’s the pandemic and how just about every other country in the world has handled it better than the US. Ok, maybe Sweden could have handled it better but you know, not all of the furniture is actually made in Sweden. But Trump seems to have a unique talent for making Covid 19 much much worse. For example, Sweden has universal healthcare, sick time and generous unemployment insurance. So if you’re sick, you’re not forced to go to work and infect your fellow employees. That’s not the way we do it here. Here, we make sure that work is treated like some compulsory obligatory morality thing. You’re not allowed to be sick in America and take off work. That’s unpatriotic or being a taker or something equally absurd. Which is why our cases are out of control and we don’t even know how bad it is because Trump’s lackeys have a stranglehold on the data to keep the elderly Fox News viewers in Florida and Texas from freaking out.

What’s really happening is the furniture is now made in Poland, China and Russia and now has to be shipped to the US as completed furniture. We no longer make IKEA furniture in the Danville, Virginia plant, the only US IKEA furniture plant, and a lot of American jobs were lost.

Plus, all that furniture is either in transit or sitting at the docks at Bayonne, NJ or god knows where. What does it take for the Alex desks held hostage to get to our local IKEAS?

(Side note: Danville made Kallax units in mass quantities. Kallax units are right up there in popularity with Billy bookcases taking the top spot. Guess what’s out of stock in Pittsburgh? That’s right. Kallax. Ditto Besta, also previously made in Danville. So, you know, it matters, and I don’t think this was all Covid related. Those two units are out of stock at every US IKEA franchise store I’ve checked so far.)

I’d say it was a first world problem but IKEA Malaysia doesn’t have a hold on Alex desks:

.

Available in Asturias and Buenos Aires, but not Ireland (not sure what that’s all about. Maybe it’s a Brexit side effect.)

In any case, depending on where you are in the world and what stupid nationalist is affecting your trade policy, you may need to wait an indefinite amount of time for IKEA to get stocked again.

If this is what making America great again means, I’d prefer it if we just went back to being No. 1.

***********

BTW, in spite of what you may have heard, Pittsburgh is just fine as far as violence and unrest goes. We don’t have nearly the problems of some other cities where unidentifiable federal enforcers were sent to complicate matters.

Is it perfect? What city is perfect? Name me one. We’ve seen protests break out around the world in Belarus, Hong Kong, Paris. We have a unique set of issues because of our history. But it doesn’t make us unique in terms of people taking to the streets.

Our mayor is a pretty good guy and this city is more sophisticated than Trump and his droogs would have you believe. As long as no one deliberately starts trouble by bringing in outside agitators, we’ll be fine.

I love this place.