Years ago I was in Stockholm and was dragged along to the largest IKEA store in the world, (over 55,000 square metres). Now I can claim IKEA Loulé, a somewhat smaller attempt, as part of my portfolio. Yes, her 'Ladyship' is addicted.
We had dropped off the grandkids for an early 9 o’clock flight at the bedlam that currently is known as 'Departures' and after a prolonged coffee visit in the relative tranquillity of downtown Patacão we circumnavigated our way around to the huge IKEA carpark in Loulé’s new half-finished suburbia.
To my horror I found the store’s doors closed. Their website was in error!!! Crikey what to do? They are not opening, for another hour, until 10.00 am. I simply didn’t dare say “forget it” so I/we had Hobson’s choice, sit in the car and wait. I tried to doze but sleep wouldn’t come. We were parked smack in front of an advert, an elephant standing on one leg on a chair. This contribution to humanity told and showed me and all other observers, the rigor with which IKEA tested their products before offering them to customers. Ugh, Ugh.
The elephant wouldn’t go away and I couldn’t find any trick to doze around it. The old grey cells had kicked in. An elephant must weigh somewhere around 3 to 6 tons, let’s take 4 tons, approx. 9,000 pounds. Now the area of 4 chair legs of 1 inch diameter is about 3.2 square inches. So the pressure exerted with the full weight of the elephant on the chair would be around 2,800 psi. Obviously the entire marketing team had skipped their physics classes. Oh and they simply just forgot to show that the elephant was seated on the ground with one leg just resting on the chair.
Ten o’clock came and went. Her 'Ladyship' was first into the 3-storey warehouse, sorry, 'store.' I simply continued to fight the brain cell. This time seeking a Portuguese justification, for this emporium and others, still to be built, shopping centres. What was it? Job numbers, corporate/income tax, IMI, IVA etc etc. Who knows? Every factor I considered seemed to have an equal or better counter argument. I simply couldn’t find any definitive positive answer. Perhaps it’s being built simply to stop folks paying the tolls and driving to Seville.
Time began to drag. I finally succumbed. I left the car and went through the sliding doors, up the escalator and into the vastness. Arrows stared at me from the floor. Great, I liked the familiarity. I wouldn’t get lost. I noticed the unusually big yellow bags were hanging on the arms of the majority of shoppers. Welcome to worldwide shopping Algarve. I chose to remain unattached.
Household accessories appeared. I had seen them all before. Glassware, pots and pans, identical to those sold in Croydon. Next were the frying pans. Now they were dirt cheap. Lidl has some competition at last. Computer desks terminals appeared, at every other corner, decorated by two uniformed attendants just waiting to be asked a question about the products on show or on the Net.
I escalated to the furniture, beds, couches tables and chairs etc.. they varied in every shade of white, all really boring and dull as ditch water. Is white this year’s colour? It appears to be the order of the day. Two wheelers were everywhere. I didn’t want a bike. Besides they were expensive, hung on the walls, propped against wardrobes. What a place for a bike. Well I suppose it could be progress. IKEA has become a bike shop!
Next stop was the 600 seater restaurant, which was virtually empty. I remembered the last time we lunched at an identical establishment in Amsterdam the queues never ended. Well there’s space enough for lots of Dutchmen here, but they’ll be disappointed. There’s no raw 'haring' on the menu.
I was turning to return to the sanctity of the car when her Ladyship came into view. I quickly dipped behind rolls of carpet. I did not want to be accused of being responsible and enjoying the splendour of wandering through all this paraphernalia. She walked on unconcerned and disappeared into the linen section. I moved to find myself staring at a priced sign above a stack of door mats. I nearly collapsed as I read that I could purchase a 'Boris', sorry Borris door mat, for only 2.99 euros. I didn’t succumb but I’m sure that in time they will become collectors' items.
I was back in the partially filled carpark alone for only 10 minutes before her Ladyship reappeared fully armed with a big brown carrier bag. She parked it on the back seat.
“Did you manage to get a snooze,” she asked.
“No,” I replied. “I have been simply waiting for that elephant to fall over.”