IKEA is one of the most recognizable brands in modern history. From desks to dish racks, IKEA has a little bit of everything for everyone. But you don’t get to where IKEA is in the market without picking up some interesting factoids and stories along the way. For instance, did you know there are more Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Manhattan (500+) than there are IKEA locations around the world (400+)? Or that they’re a $40 billion/year company?
We wanted to know more about the world’s premiere furniture store, so we went digging and were pretty surprised by some of the things we found. Here are 10 surprising facts about IKEA:
IKEA Is Capitalized Because It’s An Acronym
We all know what IKEA is, but do you know how it got its name? The reason it appears capitalized is because it’s actually an acronym. The “I” and “K” are for Ingrid Kamprad, the founder of the company. The “E” and “A” stand for the farm of Elmtaryd and the Swedish village of Agunnaryd, where Kamprad grew up.
There Was Soap Opera Spoof Filmed Inside The Burbank, California, IKEA—While It Was Open
IKEA Heights was a 2009 comedic drama that was filmed on location, inside of the Burbank, California, IKEA, while it was open. There are videos of it online, and it’s absolutely hysterical. Our favorite part is watching the regular customers in the back, looking in on scenes, clearly confused about what’s going on.
IKEA Didn’t Start Serving Food Until Ingvar Kamprad Learned Customers Were Leaving Without Purchasing Anything Because They Were Hungry
Ingvar Kamprad was a businessman. When he learned that a lot of customers were leaving without purchasing anything because they worked up an appetite in the store and needed food, he decided to solve both their furniture and their famishing problems. It doesn’t get much savvier than that.
All The Items Are Named After Specific Things—Like Places In Norway And Sweden
To English speakers, IKEA’s selection of furniture and home appliances might seem like gibberish. What the hell is a Poäng? How do you even pronounce Västerön? What the hell is a Silkeborg? Well, as it happens, it isn’t gibberish, and the product development team at IKEA puts a lot of effort into and emphasis on how IKEA products get their names. Every one is named after specific places, things, jobs, etc. in Sweden and Norway.
In Finland, Customers Can Recycle Their Old IKEA Furniture In Exchange For A Gift Card
The used market for old IKEA furniture is massive. Craigslist is littered with all different types of old rugs, tapestries, bookshelves, and coffee tables, and while the wares are plentiful, it’s not exactly a seller’s market. In fact, if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that your IKEA is going to depreciate in value pretty drastically over time.
That’s exactly why IKEA’s program in Finland is so attractive. In Finland, customers can “recycle” their IKEA furniture at IKEA, and receive a gift card in exchange. It was so popular that IKEA has considered buy back programs (and rental programs!) in places like the U.K., Canada, and even the U.S. Far as we know, however, they’re still waiting for the green light.
Almost All The Billy Bookcases In The Entire World Are Made In One Swedish Village
If you weren’t already aware, Billy bookcases are IKEA’s number one selling item in the entire world. And yet, despite being an international hit, the overwhelming majority of Billy bookcases are made in one small Swedish village of less than 400 total inhabitants. Gyllensvaans Möbler has been the official manufacturer of the Billy bookcases since 1978, and as such, in order to keep up with demand, the company employs nearly half of the village’s population. It’s kind of crazy to think that a team of around 200 people produces 4.5 million bookcases every single year.
A Billy Bookcase Is Sold Every 5 Seconds
Speaking of Billy bookcases, did you know that one is sold every five seconds? At least, that’s the estimate according to the IKEA website.
There’s An IKEA Hotel In Sweden
Ingvar Kamprad opened the first IKEA showroom in 1943 in Älmhult, Sweden. Seventy-five years later, the IKEA Hotell, located in Älmhult, serves as a rest stop for anyone passing through IKEA’s hometown. The hotel is furnished, as you’d expect, with IKEA designs, and guests even get access to those sweet, sweet Swedish meatballs whenever they want. It sounds like a dream come true.
Roughly Two Million IKEA Swedish Meatballs Are Consumed Daily Around The World
Listen… you show us a place where you can get an entire plate of delectable regional cuisine for under five bucks. We’ll wait. Oh, you can’t? Well, we can. There are people on this planet—quite a few of them, we suspect—who can’t tell you about the wonders of putting together a Billy, but can speak to you the gospel of IKEA’s tasty Swedish meatballs.
Are we a little obsessed? Maybe. Probably. But are we alone? Not according to IKEA, which claims that people consume over two million of their meatballs every single day. Boom! That’s a-lotta-meatballs. Ugh, sorry about that, guys. We couldn’t resist.
IKEA Founder Ingvar Kamprad Lived Very Frugally, In A House Furnished Almost Entirely With IKEA Furniture That He Assembled Himself
By the time IKEA Founder Ingvar Krampard died in January, it is believed that his fortune was somewhere in the $46 billion area. Which makes it all the more interesting that Kamprad lived a very frugal life.
According to several reports, he shopped at flea markets, drove an old Volvo, lived in a modest home in Switzerland, and furnished his home primarily with IKEA furniture—which he assembled himself. He took penny pinching to a whole new level.