my first ikea store experience . . . omg!!!

lynninnewmexicoJuly 14, 2014

Last Wednesday, while up in the Denver area for our nephew's wedding, we stopped in to look around the IKEA store in Centennial. Oh my gosh, I was blown away . . . by the sheer size of the place, by the huge variety ("huge" is really an understatement) of things for sale and by the very good prices. They even have a daycare for your kids and a restaurant right there! I had no idea it would be like that! What we thought would be a 30 minute look-see turned out to be a three hour adventure that could have easily stretched to four or five hours. Thank goodness that we drove DH's pickup with it's flat, lockable metal bed cover as we almost filled it up completely! Are they all like that?

We ended up buying DD a new desk chair, a replacement desk chair for one at DH's clinic, a set of sheets for DD's new bed at college, picture frames, other decorative pieces and a drawer stack for her new place and a few more things for us.

I wish that we an IKEA here in New Mexico, although I know that I'd do some serious damage to my credit card, if I had one close by. Maybe someday. In the meantime, it's back to reality here at home(LOL)!

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Haha! I felt the same way after my first Ikea visit -- it was so much fun browsing, even though I didn't buy anything except lunch and a glass vase! I was so inspired by the kitchen displays.

I have been again (the 2nd time to buy things) and I am going back in a few weeks -- it is a 2 hour drive from my house.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:02PM
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It is an adventure! Ours is about 45 minutes away. It has been a godsend for DD's new apartment. The doorways are small and thin, so we were nervous about getting things in. We bought a bed, mattress, microwave cart and sofa as well as a lot of smaller items. The nice part was everything went in easily. It DID take me almost four hours to put the bed together, but a good part of that was operator error.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Now I almost feel guilty admitting this, but I have an IKEA less than 15 miles from my home and I've never been there. I keep trying to entice my DD to visit with me but we always end up hitting the vintage stores in Philly instead.

However your enthusiasm is contagious - maybe I'll just stop in by myself. I'm glad you had such a great time.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 9:19PM
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I have an IKEA about 15 minutes away, too (Plymouth Meeting). It's next to Home Depot and BJ's. I used to buy stuff there but now I never go in it. Most of the furniture is kind of temporary stuff, although I know someone who has had an IKEA bed frame for decades. It certainly is an experience, though. I dont like the way you are forced to walk through the entire store to get out!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:23PM
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My two boys had furniture from Ikea all growing up. One took a few of his pieces to college. One bedroom is still filled with Ikea furniture. We redid our main floor last year. I did not want to spend a lot on den furniture so we have a secretary and entertainment center from Ikea. When DD moved into an apt sophomore year we got her bedroom furniture at Ikea and she's still using it 10 years later. My kids weren't/aren't hard on things, but even the real cheapy stuff we have had has held up.

We have 3 Ikeas all within an hour to an hour 15 min or so. We don't go often..but I always find something. I've been plenty of times and it's still overwhelming.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:52PM
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The first one I ever visited was in Manhattan and I had that same experience. I've been to our local one several times with others and always find some little thing I can't live without. Yes, it's overwhelming and very easy to get lost lol.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:55PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I felt that way when we into the one in Dallas. It is the perfect place for shopping for the kids and I like much of their organizational stuff, I have yet to find a good place for organizational stuff in NM. The next time I am in Dallas, I will be going in with a list. They had a solar powered desk lamp which of course is not available online which I would love to pick up.

I read somewhere that Ikea generally opens stores in areas with 2 million people. Albuquerque is so very far from that, even when you add in some of the surrounding cities and Santa Fe. I really hope we never reach those numbers and Ikea can just be a place to visit when travelling. If we could just get the Container Store to come to town!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:20PM
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I've been to two IKEA stores. Both in Cali. Not only was I blown away when our daughter took me to the one in Sacramento, but my hubby, though he wouldn't admit it, was blow away when he and I visited in one near where he works in the Bay area. We are both looking forward to one that will open sometime next year in the KC area which is about three hours away. The closest one now is almost five hours away. Plus we have family in the KC area, so we can make it a weekend trip to visit family too.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:32PM
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I am going for the first time next week. :) But mostly plan on checking out in person the kitchen cabinets and counter tops.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:44PM
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There are shortcuts you can take, so you don't have to go through all the "rooms."
Also go to their cafeteria (I love their apple tart and gravlax) and sign up for an IKEA "family membership." They usually have special prices on some items.
(I have an IKEA about 25 minutes away, so stop by more often to pick up a few things, such as duvet covers and inserts, kitchen items, frames, and food).

Here is a link that might be useful: Lost in IKEA

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:50AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Just go to the restroom first because once you're in the maze, it may take some time to find your way out again. There are signs all over our local one for "short cuts" that only seem to lead you deeper into the maze....

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 7:52AM
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My kids like going to IKEA because of the play area. It is the only store they ask to go to (well, unless they want to buy something!).

We live within 25 minutes of 2 IKEA stores . . .and believe it or not, both are busy. Thankfully, one less so than the other, which makes it easier to shop.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:06AM
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Tish....that is interesting that they only open in areas where the population is 2mil. DD went to Ohio State and I could never figure out why Columbus did not have an Ikea. With just an undergrad population of 44,000 they would make a killing not to mention grad students and the general population.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:14AM
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My experience was the opposite of most or yours, maybe the Woodbridge, Va Ikea is an anomaly? I thought that I would love it but it was a mess, picked over, and didn't have most of the items that I was hoping to see. This was about 4 years ago, but I have had no desire to go back and don't even bother looking at their website anymore. The linen throw pillows that I did buy had such a strong chemical smell that they were banished to the basement.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:16AM
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RNmomof2 zone 5

While people bash the quality of IKEA furniture, I believe that it is nicer than a lot of low to mid priced furniture available to much of the US. We bought a Hemnes chest when our daughter went to college. We had the fun experience of shopping at the Canton, MI one during back to school. The drawers are BIG, deep, sturdy and self closing!

This poor chest has moved at least once/year for the past several years and still looks great and is sturdy. Not sure I could have said the same thing about a comparable priced one from Ashley or somewhere like it.

We have big hopes of adding a new queen bed, dresser and night stand in a few years if we can get her out of college!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:35AM
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Love Ikea -- have had Billy shelves since 1987 that are still strong and useful! :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:42AM
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I am so jealous of you that have one or more IKEAs (how does that happen when we can't get one anywhere in our state?!?) close by.

Just a FYI: they told us at IKEA that all the Billy bookcases and doors are now on sale because there are new doors coming out in August or September that will not fit the old Billys.

Tish: Albuquerque used to have a Container Store back in the mid-80's when we first moved to NM. It was on the NE corner of Menaul and Eubank, as I remember. Wish it was still there!

Annie: (LOL) so true! Trying to find a bathroom was a bit traumatic. I agree that it's best to hit the bathroom first.

Joanie: DD said the same thing about her University of Oklahoma. It's huge and there is also OK State and many other colleges in the area. If they put an IKEA in Oklahoma City, which is central, they'd make a fortune just off the college kids.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:05AM
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Here's an IKEA hint: There are maps throughout the store that plainly show shortcuts and restrooms. Makes getting around a snap!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:10AM
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I find Ikea very handy for certain items. I had just a top for a desk and they sell just the legs, in different styles and colors that attach. You can't find that everywhere. They have great prices on house plants. I love their organization department. I like their meatballs and mashed potatoes and some kind of chocolate mouse cake! I'm glad there's one nearby.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Shhhhh, don't tell anyone .... But its ok to just go in an out door and spend time on the ground floor market. If you have trouble, just ask someone who works there and they will lead the way.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:29AM
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It's probably a good thing we don't live near one. Atlanta is the closest. Florida has 4! (Not fair!!) I did go to the one in Atlanta several years ago and first just stood there and didn't know what to do. I bought a few things because I was so overwhelmed and just browsed for about an hour or so. If I ever go again I will definitely go more prepared.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:31AM
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We just went college room shopping a week ago to the Mpls. store. It was not our first visit. We came home not finding much. It is a gerbil cage..once in very difficult to find a short cut out. It would be near impossible to "stop quick" for AN item. It is fun to look and amazing the ideas they come up with. Perfect for cheap short term needs. It would be nice if they actually had in stock the couple of items we found and wanted. We have that sort of luck.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:46AM
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There are shortcuts in the Va. store I go to, but you have to be willing to "swim against the tide" -- going in through the register areas, for example, if you want to see little kitchen/organization/bathroom/decoration things, and not following the directional arrows on the floors. When I know what I want and where it is and do this, people always look at me like I'm not quite right in the head!

It's definitely not a run-in-and-look kinda place!
Arcy: The out-of-stock situation always arises this time of summer, with kids about to go to college. One good thing is that if you know exactly the product you want in advance, the web site can tell you approx how many are likely -- likely -- to be in the store you're headed to.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:17AM
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After my first visit to the IKEA in Sacramento, I contacted IKEA to see if there were any plans for one in our area. They said no and told me why. There only build where there's a high, and I mean really high, concentration of people. They said we were no where near meeting it.
Just went back to read and see that someone said it was 2 million. Personally I think that's crazy! We don't even have half that when you add the population of the city across the river! We'll NEVER get an IKEA!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:52AM
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2 Million needed for an IKEA store?!? OK, now I'm really sad as I just checked and the population for the entire state of New Mexico is only 2.086 million people! Nice because we have a lot of fresh air and green space everywhere, but not great for attracting IKEA to us.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:13PM
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They even have a daycare for your kids and a restaurant right there!

That's how they can keep you there all day :-)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:13PM
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That's awesome Lynn! I think I could live without an IKEA to have that. Our population is just under 8,000, but we live near a, somewhat, large population of over 800,000. Still nowhere near what IKEA expects. The KC area is actually just short of 2MIL by last count according to Google, but they're building there.

I wish their shipping costs weren't so expensive, because some of what I'd buy, they do ship.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:26PM
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We have 2 here in Chicagoland, and I remember my first visit. Was entranced and bought too much "stuff" I didn't need, most of it ending up at Goodwill 6 months later. After that, the pendulum swung the other direction, and, my next visit, I was crippled with indecision regarding what I really needed.

I've learned a balance, mainly because I'm more aware of what's available, and the floorplan isn't so overwhelming. It's a fantastic resource for certain items, but can, on the other hand, prove too much of a good thing.

I share flowers from my cutting garden, and it's my favorite place for inexpensive, pretty glass vases. (Nice to display when not in use, too.)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:43PM
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There's more to it than just number of people in the area. (Berlin, Germany, for example has four stores, including the second largest IKEA).
Interesting article below.

Here is a link that might be useful: 10 years to decide on IKEA store location

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Glad you had a good experience at Ikea, Lynn! I love Ikea and have shopped there for 30 years. One has to understand tho that there are excellent, good, and not-so-good products there as there often are everywhere. I've had more good experiences than bad and think Ikea has improved over the years.

Even when I go just to look I expect to spend no less than $50 on things that were not even on my wish list! Difficult to resist some of the good low priced items that are useful.

It's not necessary to walk the entire store but a good idea to have lots of time in case one wants to. They also sometimes have sales which are phenomenal.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:04PM
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I'm glad you enjoyed your experience -- I agree with luckygal, there are excellent, okay and don't bother products there.

The ones in the US I've been to (Seattle, Sac, Emeryville) are all pretty similar. I've shopped at one in Switzerland near where I worked for a couple of years. They are a bit different, but much the same. The food was more localized -- and I managed to outfit my apartment quite well there for not a lot of money. The unfitted cabinets were excellent -- the chairs and wool rgs good -- some of the decor items not so good.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:55PM
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Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA Heights

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:59PM
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Last time I visited my closest Ikea (1.5-2hr drive), I was only going for a few specific things, which weren't available online. Since I wasn't planning on getting much, I drove my MINI. Being in the little car saved me, but I still ended up with it packed to the gills.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:57PM
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I'm in Henderson NV and they just made the announcement yesterday that Las Vegas will be getting its first IKEA in 2016. I absolutely cannot wait. Love that store. Have been to one in Massachusetts and also one in California.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:19PM
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Oh, and did the aroma of cinnamon rolls greet you *immediately* upon entering? I don't have a sweet tooth, but the scent gets me every time.

One of my last visits involved some heavy purchases, and typically you're on your own for loading them in your vehicle. I was by myself, and a nice, young, strong employee helped me load my items. I tried to tip him, and he declined. So I went back inside and bought him a dozen cinnamon rolls to enjoy with his fellow employees on his break. He was grinning ear-to-ear, and said, "Oh, we loooooooove these..."

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:10PM
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I was skeptical too. DH convinced me to go when we set up a play room.

I have to admit we have the expedit now in many rooms! it is awesome storage. :) I also really love the wire curtain rods for hanging the kids artwork. We also have them in the sunroom for lightweight curtains.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:40PM
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What a fun thread, Lynn. I usually visit with my DIL these days, Peony, and she always hurries us past the food.

My first Ikea visit was the opening in Burbank, California some decades ago. No internet then, so I was also totally fascinated by the marketing engineering that lead like a yellow brick road through a complete house of shopping.

Not long after, two friends, who did not know each other, left their husbands, most of their possessions, and picked up starts on very different lives at Ikea. Only wish they'd asked me to help shop. :)

Like Teacats, we picked up a wall of stylish but very inexpensive Billy bookcases 24 years ago now, meant to be temporary until we built some in. We still have them. When we moved across country a couple decades later, we discarded all but our best pieces of furniture, but the Billys made the cut for sheer terrific function. They include these terrific short, deeper units with doors that you just slide up to the bookcases to form cabinets from the lower shelves. Why Ikea stopped selling them I can't imagine.

I don't do a lot of Ikea these days, but as it happens our living room curtains are Ikea. A casual white room with large double-hung windows lining three walls, pine pank floors, and beadboard wainscot, their breezy $15/pair of panels "dress" it up very nicely. :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:42PM
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Do join the IKEA Family for special offers and FREE coffee!!

We have an IKEA in Tampa, FL. Many a happy hour........!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:49PM
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agree the woodbridge, va store is abit dumpy... have only been in 1 other ikea and that was along time ago so can't compare...
i love bargains and ikea has a fantatic clearance section where they do markdowns every few days so you can get some fantastic deals... bought some bookshelves, chairs and pots/dishware for college kids in this section and so wanted to get a really nice castored stainless kitchen 'island' for one of kids which looked to be in perfect condition but priced really well for whenever one of them needed one!! my hub, who is less wowed by super deals stepped in and said no! we really didn't have the room in the car! but, if you can find a sales person who works in that room, often you can negotiate the price even lower!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:40AM
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Just something to consider about the kind of company Ikea has become:

Here is a link that might be useful: Ikea lawsuits at Ars Technica

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:50PM
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The thing to understand about IKEA is that the pricing/quality is not consistent among products, and that is intentional. Some of it is "cheap thrill" quasi-disposable stuff for the student setting up a first apartment. Some of it is excellent quality designed to last - in a range of prices. My IKEA dining room table that I've had for 12 years is thick solid birch that you could dance on - I think it cost me $200 and I am planning to refinish it and continue enjoying its simple practicality. Everyone remembers old disintegrating particleboard IKEA furniture...but don't confuse that with IKEA kitchen cabinetry that has a 25 year warranty.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 4:49PM
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With respect to the law suits, in all fairness, the site looks A LOT like an official IKEA web site. So, while I don't know how much money the Martins make with the site (250,000 members), it's kind of understandable that IKEA doesn't want competitors' ads pop up on a site that's obviously trading on the IKEA name. I bet that a lot of people think it may be an IKEA site.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:44PM
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I'm with nosoccermom about the IKEA lawsuits. Without first getting permission from IKEA to use their name and logo, they're lucky they lasted this long. Not that I don't like both those sites and feel bad the owners, but in reality, they are using someone elses brand to their own gain.
It would be nice if it could all be resolved in a way that kept the owners of the sites running the show, but have IKEA take over as the owner of these sites, possibly paying the current owners a salary. All ads would be from IKEA and not their competitors.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:05PM
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We have an Ikea kitchen, and I went to Ikeafans, NOT Ikea, a great deal for design and customization tips. To a lesser degree Ikeahackers.

I have no knowledge of the legalities involved, this is the first I've heard of it, but as an involved party myself I don't see that Ikea should be able to claim any right of ownership -- because they didn't create those ongoing concerns. We did. Ikeafans and Hackers are the products of their organizing owners and all the individuals who contribute their experiences and talent for free, including me.

IMO, also, the time to object to the inclusion of "Ikea" in the name was in the beginning. Ikea has benefited from both sites' enthusiastic promotion of its products for some years now. Guess I'd better get go join the reaction at this grab. Hopefully, they'll just have to redesign their websites or something, although, again, if Ikea didn't have a problem with it before, why should it be allowed to muscle in NOW?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:32PM
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I don't claim to understand this type of law, but I do know that I would love to use a brand name of an iconic product that is no longer made, for a blog I have in mind. Because I can't get an answer on legally using it I have yet to do so, for fear of something like this happening.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:49PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I have several pieces from ikea that have held up very well. I have to admit it takes patience and a certain skill level to assemble some of their products. My husband dreads seeing a flat box from ikea.

I really like the Billy bookcases. Do a Google images search for built-in Billy bookcases for some truly amazing projects that were done using Billy bookcases.
I was amazed at some of them! I love some of their wardrobe closets or Armoires. I could use a few of them for storage.

When I get to go now I am so happy to have my mobility Scooter to cover all that ground, but my poor husband is dragging when we leave. It's definitely an all day adventure since the closest one is at least 45 mins to an hour away. They need more than one in the Houston area.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:58AM
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Yay! I was hoping they had at least one IKEA in Houston. I might be heading that way in the next year and was hoping they had one.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:11PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

There is one that is out by Katy, Texas. It is right on the Katy freeway, I-10E.
The big Camping World store is on the same road a bit further East, so going to both is a definite all day affair. Lots of great shopping places around that area. Just a little bit of a drive from the Woodlands area. I am surprised that they don't have one in the Woodlands.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:48PM
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I'm not sure what area the hospital is in, just know hubby has told me Houston, is a good possibility for his next position. He has a friend that's already there, so I'll have hubby ask him just where the hospital is located and then I can check IKEA locations from there.
They're getting together to golf, as always, tomorrow morning.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:15PM
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