OK, so what’s the deal with IKEA not having a store in Qingdao? Even Tianjin is getting a store soon, and that will make a total of 9 locations around China with not one of them here in Qingdao. Shopping online is not an option outside of Sweden and Denmark, and besides, one wouldn’t want to miss out on the 6 yuan coffees in the cafeteria.
Not all the products in the store can be listed online anyway, so the IKEA experience is something to be experienced physically instead of virtually. While you’re there, you can even snap a few photos for the family album. Finally, to really put this into some weird perspective, there is a rather large IKEA corporate office in Qingdao. Quite often people get excited when they hear of the Swedish presence in Qingdao, only to come back to Earth when it’s explained that, although a boatload of stuff is sourced through Shandong, none of it is actually sold here. That is, unless you count the miscellaneous random item that slips into the underground market near the train station, like the wayward wicker mats or wooden easels spotted in the catacombs beneath the Qingdao Zhan.
Sure, IKEA may not be for everyone, and like Phoebe Buffay, some cringe at having the same stuff as millions of other humans.
Qingdao’s an Olympic city now and it’s a pretty affluent place. The USC U.S.-China Institute says that Qingdao’s per capita GDP (using 2000 to 2005 stats) was greater than Shenyang, Chengdu, and even Beijing, and things have definitely gotten better since then. The Economist Intelligence Unit says that Qingdao’s GDP jumped up more than 13% in 2008, so there’s got to be some money floating around somewhere in the Sailing City.
Surely we can’t be the only ones that feel you just can’t beat the big blue box and oversized yellow bags for some passably hip Western style home goods at a very reasonable price. Come on IKEA, we know there’s a market for you here, if you’d just take a chance on us!
Official IKEA (China) Website