When we pulled into the parking lot - wait, I mean parking abyss, I was overwhelmed by the amount of traffic that was being directed by a full time parking staff. There had to be over 1,000 parking spaces and we got there early enough to get one of the last 30 empty spaces. I thought shopping at Wal-mart was bad... This was much worse. When we departed, the parking had overflowed to the highways.
Apparently the recession has not hit Charlotte yet - even though Charlotte is the 2nd largest banking district in the world. The shear number of people cycling through the store leads me to believe that IKEA will single handedly bring our economy out of the dump. The store is efficiently set up to keep people moving in a uniform direction which prohibits people from gathering or reversing direction, therefore reducing "people jams." Genius design.
What disturbed me about my visit to IKEA was the excess that was on display. The first thing I noticed when Brandi drove into the lot was the volume of SUV's. I did a quick sample on our drive out by counting 10 vehicles in a particular row and identified that 7 of 10 vehicles were SUV's. The next row I counted 8 of 10 vehicles that were SUV's. Since this was by no means scientific, I'm going to go with the average of every 7 of 10 vehicles at IKEA were SUV's or Mini-vans.
What does this mean? It means our oversized vehicle goes right along with our desire for oversized low cost warehouses. It means that we don't mind spending $100 to fill our SUV's with refined foreign oil while at the same time spending $1000 on discount furniture and home wares made in Sweden. We continue to shop at Wal-mart where the value is unbeatable while relying on imported oil to fuel our excessive demand for convenience. Americans steadily want bigger and bigger things for cheaper prices. We want to live in a $500,000 house on an $80,000 household income - and then buy a $40,000 vehicle. EXCESS!
Now we're all sobbing as unemployment soars and our jobs are shipped overseas. When I was younger (age 9) I remember my dad buying me a new ball glove. It was a Wilson A2000 and it was one of the last Wilson gloves to be made in the US. I lived in a house that my Mom and Dad bought for $17,000 in 1972. Our cars (US made) were always bought used and we ran them into the ground. We didn't have credit card debt. My Dad continues his message to this day - If you can't pay it off at the end of the month, you can't afford it! Those days are long gone.
Don't get me wrong, I'm to blame just like everyone else. I'm really just tired of everyone blaming government and banks for our demise. We're all to blame - especially when our own greed and grossly exaggerated quest for the "American dream" distorts our reality. Entitlement, greed and excess have become endemic personality traits among Americans. I just hope we learn from the recent economic events and we begin to live within our means.