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St. Louis IKEA fans look forward to saving on gas, shipping, plane fare

Jen Killion turned IKEA spice racks into book shelves for her daughter.
Provided by Jen Killion

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Driving the 15 or so miles to St. Louis' newly planned IKEA from her home in Kirkwood will be a breeze for Stephanie Kessler. The first time she shopped the iconic retailer in 2006, it required a 4,500-mile plane ride.

Kessler, 28, didn’t actually fly to Sweden just to experience IKEA but to visit friends. Still, after that trip she was hooked, and has since ventured to a variety of IKEAs around the country including the one in Schaumburg, Ill.

Good thing the Illinois trip wasn’t by plane. She would never have been able to afford the baggage fee. Instead, Kessler, her boyfriend, and his brother and his boyfriend packed her 34 purchases into her Scion xB SUV. The loot included four boxes of bookshelves, five bookcases and a bedspread. No kitchen sink, but she did throw in a coffee press and salad spinner.

"[We] packed up my xB to capacity and drove home as a bobsled team with me in the back seat, holding onto the cabinets, shelves, etc.," Kessler wrote in response to an online Public Insight Network (PIN) query.

Space limitations meant Kessler had to leave behind the dining room table she’d chosen, but the decision gave her boyfriend a great idea for an anniversary gift four months later.

"Todd had arranged for his brother to come down to deliver the table we wanted, and, to boot, had us time him as he put it together ... in 46 minutes flat!" Kessler wrote.

Another PIN source, Michael Burke of Oakland, Mo., began buying IKEA bookcases and storage units in the 1970s when he was first stationed in Europe. While Burke, 62, has sold some pieces and moved others a dozen times, he's held on to most of them.

"They are hard to beat for the cost," Burke wrote.

Jen Killion of Overland likes the modern look and affordability of IKEA’s offerings. But Killion, 37, doesn’t like that getting IKEA products to her home increases the cost considerably.

Several times, Killion's used a St. Louis company that takes orders and delivers items but only for small housewares like pots and pans, a blanket and four spice racks. She’s been eyeing some IKEA storage shelves but now she’ll wait for the arrival of the local store to make them more affordable.

"The company I use was going to charge me $120 for delivery, and the product, itself, is only like $100," Killion told the Beacon in a telephone interview.

Assembling the shelves won’t be a problem since Killion’s handy with tools. "I kind of enjoy figuring out how to put things together," she said.

In fact, Killion enjoys putting her personal touch on IKEA products. The Edison Theatre marketing manager transformed the spice racks into bookshelves for her 4-year-old’s room. The open design lets her daughter see the books' front covers and select her picks accordingly.

Even though Killion has the IKEA app on her smartphone and frequently browses its offerings, she'll probably stay away on opening day, planned for fall 2015.

"I anticipate that it will be extremely crazy," Killion said. "I’ll probably give it a week to settle down.”

Carlos Carrillo, who lives in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood, said he will likely be among those braving the crowds at the opening. Currently, Carrillo and his partner, Dennis Belieu, are planning an IKEA kitchen for one of their four rental properties. They'll start work this January, which means at least one drive to Chicago.

"We may have to do two trips or we may rent a truck, we don't know yet," Carrillo said.

If the project goes well, they'll be back for more, but next time may only involve a short drive, a much easier task.

"Absolutely, it will be much easier," Carrillo said.

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

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