September 12, 2014
Have you heard the news, it’s the cover story of every local business publication, the teaser for the “News at 10” and has social media newsfeeds a buzz… IKEA has opened in Kansas City (insert: “Eeek!!”) Don’t get me wrong, I am excited that we now have one close by and may have even been one of the people “Facebooking” about its arrival- way back when….just maybe.
But, as a commercial furniture and flooring dealer, do we have a place in our hearts for IKEA and it’s “Ready to Assemble” (RTA) wares? I think we do. IKEA, and it’s knocked down furniture fills a certain need, just as commercial grade furniture fills a particular need. Which begets the question – what is the difference between residential and commercial-grade furniture? Some may quickly reply, “price!” And while there may be a discrepancy in price between residential and commercial furniture, it’s with good reason. It’s a akin to likening your oven/stove at home and a commercial grade oven used in a bakery or restaurant; while they both serve the same purpose and function, one is designed for repetitive, heavy, “continuous” use, versus less frequent, lighter use.
Commercial grade furniture is built to last, from higher quality materials than most residential pieces and is tested for strength, stability, etc… There are organizations, such as ANSI/BIFMA that set standards commercial grade furniture must meet or exceed, of which residential furniture does not. Our workspaces and certainly educational environments often find furniture being used in ways not intended (i.e. as step stool, sitting on a tablet arm- in lieu of writing on it, etc…) Commercial furniture is typically made of thicker steel, higher quality woods and tested for real life applications, such as a tablet arm being used as a stool, as illustrated earlier. In fact, one of the best parts of any furniture factory tour is seeing the testing area/facility. You may not be old enough to recall this, but for some reason images of the Samsonite Gorilla commercial always flashes in my head, as I watch the chairs have excessive weights repeatedly dropped on them, or a sofa dropped on its end over and over and over and….(you get the drift.)
While serving the same purpose, commercial-grade and residential furniture certainly share functionality; it’s the durability, sustainability, quality and lifespan that separates the knocked down, ready to assemble furniture of the world from commercial grade quality furniture.
So no love lost on Ikea, afterall, what goes better with furniture shopping than some Swedish meatballs?