A year ago while vacationing in Southern California, I did pretty much the same thing Pitch top gun Steve Vockrodt just did in Denver; I checked out a couple of IKEA stores to try and get a handle on why its coming to Merriam seemed like such a big deal to so many locals.
Kansas City Star business columnist Joyce Smith even raved about its meatballs, as if pilgrimages might be made to the do-it-yourself Swedish furniture retailer’s bargain-priced cafeteria solely to partake of the fifteen meatball $7.99 special. So you know, I tried ’em and, eh, no big deal. It didn’t help that shortly thereafter IKEA’s meatballs were slammed with a horse meat scandal.
Here’s the deal though, as Vockrodt found out, you diss IKEA here at your own risk.
IKEA worshippers take their horse meatballs seriously.
“If you think Ikea stuff is hard to assemble….then my god…you may just give up on life,” fired back one Pitch commenter to Vockrodt’s sum up that, “Ikea is no big deal.”
“Poor little Steve Crotchrot didn’t like Ikea – i’m sure he only shops organic and local. So where does he find local manufactured buttplugs?” added Joe 12Pack.
A commenter ID’d as Samantha Levi alongside a pic of a smoking hot redhead, raved about IKEA’s balls and rhetorically invited readers to meet there for a “lunch break.”
“Way to deflate the Happy Balloon for Kansas Citians,” groused Sharoonkh.
“Oh Steve. So wrong. So, so wrong,” tsk-tsk’d fishie.
“I shopped there multiple times. It’s a big deal,” said RW.
And in the ultimate putdown Stars in my Eyes wrote: “Did Yael write this? ;)”
So is IKEA coming to Kansas City (Merriam) truly a big deal?
Of course it is.
Just as it was when the first Starbucks hit town in the 1990s and everybody from the Star’s Miriam Pepper on down acted as if we’d finally arrived.
Or like in 2006 when FYI columnist Jeneé Osterheldt breathlessly confessed that, “There are six words I’ve longed to say for a long time. A No. 1 with cheese, please,” on the opening of the first Chik-fil-A here.
Because like it or not, Kansas City has an inferiority complex.
That’s right, we so desperately want not to be relegated to the flyover status we more-or-less richly deserve. We tell ourselves we have great sushi – and we do – until we dine at a sushi restaurant in California. And we know we’re not Wichita (or god forbid, Topeka) for crying out loud.
Still we’re a little too paranoid, too insecure. Like when Star business columnist Kevin Collison pimps us about how his former burg Omaha is catching up or passing us in some manner or other. Woe unto us that something that awful could happen.
So every time we land an IKEA or an In-N-Out Burger, we act like we just won the 1985 World Series again. However the fact is, we’re not Atlanta or Chicago or LA or New York, or even Tucson. And just about every time we take a baby step in one of those superior city’s direction we get a little giddy.
Kansas City’s a pretty darn good place and the town has come an incredibly long way in the last 10 years in terms of hipness and livability.
That said, we remain a flyover.
Nobody that wasn’t born or needs or has a job here dreams of living or vacationing in the flatlands. Kansas City is to cities like Denver, what Oklahoma City is to us; no big deal.
And the fact is, that getting a gaudy, new IKEA store gives us a leg up on Collison, the Shockers and everybody else we think we’re better than in our tiny sphere of influence.
Bring on the horse meat, let’s roll!