The Big Blue Ikea Bag

I love Ikea — it’s a Cheap and Cheerful topic all by itself. We joke that every piece of furniture or lighting we own we own is either 1)Made by Lou2)Dead Relative or 3) from Ikea.  I love the ginger thins, the fabric, the cloudberry jam,  and the cheap nonstick skillets. I will never buy a nonstick skillet that costs more than 2,99.

I love love love the way their designers can conjure a cool one bedroom apartment out of three hundred square feet. My husband has turned down several kitchen remodeling jobs for friends with the words “Just go to Ikea. You can get a better kitchen from them than you can from me for half the price.” I might not agree with him about the “better” part — I love the kitchen he’s made for us — but Ikea has great-looking kitchens that are cheaper than anything you can find at the local cabinet store.

Awhile ago Ikea, for environmental (and doubtless bottom-line reasons) stopped providing bags at checkout. I had a shopping basket rattling with awkward items: wrapping paper, lumpfish caviar, measuring spoons, candles, a chandelier, my beloved Stekka nonstick pan (crepes and omelets,) a vase, some hooks, a plant, a rag rug. My handbags are typically enormous, and my right shoulder is lower than my left for being a pack animal for decades, but I knew there was no way in Stockholm I would be able to haul my stuff to my car in my purse and my arms. Ikea, always on the qui vive merchandising-wise, provides the solution: give them 99 cents and they’ll sell you a big blue bag.

It’s a big bag, not some pantywaist shopping bag you can buy for 50 cents at your local Whole Foods or Borders. It’s a yard long and two feet tall, light and tough. It not only held my random shopping, I could have fitted in a bookcase.

But as my trips to Ikea are  a semiannual  thing, the Big Blue Bag lurked in the coat closet, sure to be forgotten when I next shop there. A month ago I had what was (for me) an Aha Moment, a burst of genius, a thunderbolt.

The Big Blue Bag is the apotheosis of the laundry basket. Twice in my life I’ve been lucky enough to live in houses with laundry chutes — a forgotten feature of domestic design that deserves a comeback. In the Little House On the Prairie I toss the dirties down from the upstairs landing, gather them up in the downstairs hall and throw them into the washer — it can be a couple of trips from the hall to the washer.

Now the Ikea bag replaces the tossing and gathering. It holds a stupendous amount of laundry, both for the tossing down and trucking upstairs. It’s tough. And washable. And comfortable and cheery.

I think that if I applied Velcro to the upper edges it couple be the cheapest, cheeriest most useful one once of plasticy stuff in my house.  It could be:

  1. Easily, a weekend bag
  2. The object to get Ajax to the vet: he was so terrified by the carrier he peed all over it. The Big Blue Bag would be easier to wash than the carrier.
  3. Well, a grocery bag. We have never bought more groceries than this bag can hold single-handedly, including wine, long parchment paper boxes and half hog.
  4. An umbrella.
  5. Pull weeds. Put them in the bag. Carry them, lightly and easily , to the weed pile.

99 cents has never been better spent —  I love this cheapo achievement of Swedish capitalism. But one thing I know for sure: on my next trip to Ikea I’ll forget about it, leave it in the coat closet, and buy another. That might not be so bad, though embarrassing: then we’ll both have rain ponchos.



Filed under About a buck, Home

4 responses to “The Big Blue Ikea Bag

  1. I love bags—we have dozens, a few almost like yours, including my favorite, from Half Price Books: a huge purple being which proclaims “Wild-Eyed Bibliophile.”

    And a few new ones—from a big ole store—have the grommetted-on handles and re-inforced everything. I don’t know what they SELL that would fit and still be that heavy.

    And I lak the way yew tawk.

  2. Rachel: I have that fab Half Price Books bag too! Snap!

    Back atcha abouit the tawking thang.

  3. Shawn

    In my next go-round I’ve decided to become a designer and work for Ikea.

    It’s their simple form and function that wow’s me.

  4. Kim Shook

    I am so jealous of anyone who has an Ikea. We have to go all the way to Dale City (just south of DC) for one. Everytime we drive north on 95, I gaze hungrily as we pass. I dream of cabinets and cheap kitchen stuff and meatballs.

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