I’m the sort of person that wears my likes and dislikes on my sleeve. If you spend much time with me, you’ll quickly know that I like Star Trek, Devo, the Green Bay Packers, Bill and Ted, and food that is spicy to the point of being uncomfortable.

There’s a good chance you’d also know that I do not like reality television, the “comedy” of Bruce Vilanch, the Dallas Cowboys, and shopping at IKEA.

To clarify, it is not IKEA itself that I don’t like. I actually like their furniture quite a bit, and we have tons of it in our house. But something about the browsing experience there inevitably makes me grouchy. 

But the good news is that, after a bunch of IKEA-involved home improvement projects last year, I’ve gotten much more savvy at going in with the item numbers and aisle locations at the ready so I can grab what we need and get out with minimal hassle. 

For a few weeks, we have been planning a renovation of my office that involves a bunch of IKEA bookshelves that have been out of stock. Erin has been keeping an eye on the situation and has also heard horror stories of lines and cleared out shelves at IKEAs all over.

We knew we had to be at the ready to pounce if the shelves we wanted actually showed up, and lo and beyond, on Friday, they did. The shelves were in stock and it was time to get them while the getting was…well, possible.

So I put the seats down in the car and made the trek down south of Denver, fully expecting IKEA to do its worst. I got there about 10 minutes before opening and there was already a super long line that snaked around the parking structure and disappeared out of sight.

I took my place in line and got ready to suck it up. OK, IKEA…do your worst!

But the truth was…it actually wasn’t bad. When the store opened, the line moved at a decent pace, and I was in the store in under 20 minutes. Once inside, I saw that they had clearly marked distance lines and had really put a lot of thought into making it a safe shopping experience in the age of COVID.

And because the number of people in the store was limited and I knew exactly what I was getting, I was in and out of there in probably less than 10 minutes. What a pleasant surprise! After 137 days of living under the shadow of this pandemic, where most things have gotten harder and lousier, for me, shopping at IKEA actually went up a notch.

Sidenote on IKEA, I like a lot of their furniture, but there are certain products of theirs that can be kind of flimsy. One that immediately comes to mind for me are their wine glasses, and I’m sure I couldn’t count how many IKEA wine glasses I’ve broken, just trying to wash them. So it frankly made me a little better when I saw this in the parking lot.

Someone couldn’t even make it to their car without breaking one.

Anyway, IKEA  accomplished, I made a detour on the way home to stop at the downtown Denver Trader Joe’s. This location is notable because it is the one Trader Joe’s in the state that has a wine and liquor store. I generally go to the Boulder location, and hadn’t been to this one since pre-quarantine, so I could finally stock up on another guilty/not-so-guilty pleasure of mine…three-buck-chuck! 

Yes, I did stand in another line to get in, but all in all, it was a successful shopping day. I’ll take the wins where I can get them.