With very humble beginnings, the Barn Furniture Mart and IKEA were founded around the same time. In the mid-1940’s, while 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad ran his mail-order company from his home in Sweden, selling pens, wallets, and eventually furniture at reduced prices; Phil Tuberman, a WWII veteran, took over the “Whitler’s Barn” in California’s then desolate San Fernando Valley where he sold unfinished furniture and bicycles. Basing his company on affordability, Kamprad’s company, now recognized as the over-bearing IKEA chain of outlets, generates products whose quality is reflected by the lowness of prices. The Barn Furniture Mart has remained a family-owned business that remains true to both great quality and affordable prices.
Many people buy furniture to match their personality and make a statement about whom they are. What will the mass-produced styles available at IKEA say about you? IKEA’s generic styles are de-personalizing and reduce their customers down to anonymity. How often do you enter a home and recognize the IKEA furniture? The Barn Furniture Mart offers various timeless styles with a modern approach whose heirloom-quality will stand out in any room.
Quality should be the main reason for purchasing a piece of furniture. It must be sturdy and possess a timeless appeal that can be valued throughout the years. Besides their material use, furniture is often cherished because it is passed down from generation to generation. A heirloom-quality piece can be valued because of its lasting craftsmanship or more sentimentally, because of the tradition it represents. IKEA produces disposable furniture that often must be replaced within a year. Nicked veneers and wobbly joints are common results of owning an IKEA piece. Composites, particleboard and even formaldehyde are all materials used in IKEA’s furnishings. In the past, IKEA has come under attack a couple times for their use of hazardous materials. Before being reprimanded in the late 1980’s, many IKEA products tested positive for illegally high levels of formaldehyde.
After being sued and slapped with a fine, IKEA remedied the situation; until 1992, when IKEA’s popular bookcase, Billy was found to have higher than legal formaldehyde emissions from the veneer used. IKEA was forced to stop the production of this popular item worldwide and cost IKEA and its suppliers millions of dollars to correct. IKEA was also criticized for using Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), which poses unique and major hazards in its manufacture, product life and disposal. However, since then they have phased out of the use of this material, with the exception of electrical cables. All the while IKEA had been dealing with lawsuits and the altering of their methods of production; the Barn Furniture Mart has been dealing with solid wood furniture, many of which are produced here in the United States, following traditional guidelines set by skilled craftsmen.
Most IKEA products are ideal for transporting. Unassembled products are set in flat boxes that can easily be brought home from the store. The assembling of the product is what becomes problematic and often frustrating. Leaving out necessary tools like reliable screwdrivers but including cheap plastic screws to keep costs low makes assembly more difficult and only leads to a poorly assembled product that is already made of faulty material. In addition, to save money, IKEA does not include words in their assembly instructions. With stores in 35 countries, translation of instructions would be too costly! At no extra charge, the Barn Furniture Mart offers all pieces fully-assembled. To ensure that they will not be damaged during transport, friendly employees wrap all items in plastic or blankets and carefully load items into customers’ cars. At an additional charge, customers can have items delivered to their home where they will carefully be placed in their chosen location.
The shopping experience at IKEA also differs greatly from The Barn. While IKEA has carefully laid out their stores so that you need to pass through most of their merchandise to get to where you need to be, the Barn Furniture Mart has areas clearly labeled so you can find what you need with ease. Self-service is necessary through the entire shopping process at IKEA, while at the Barn, there’s helpful salespeople and other staff to help with the loading of your furniture.
IKEA offers trendy home furnishings that keep up with the time, however their customers are forced to shop there often not because of ever-changing styles but to replace their broken units. Their mass-produced inventory leaves very little individuality and even less reliability. With self-service comes inconvenience and at IKEA, self-service is one of their principles. Low prices shouldn’t be an excuse to lack in other very important areas such as customer service. For fully assembled, heirloom-quality furniture at low prices without the expense of good customer service, The Barn Furniture Mart is a trusted company known to uphold these values for over 70 years.