Can you visit IKEA in Sofia and leave with nothing?

Sep 14, 2011 1 Comment by

IKEA opening in Sofia, in Bulgaria. Take a peek inside with my video highlights. I liked the shiny new IKEA gleaming in the hot sunshine. For Bansko rental furniture, IKEA does the thinking for you, you can choose at a distance and you know what you’ll get. Not original, not solid, not individual — but better than some appalling apartment packs that find their way into Bansko homes. The €23.8bn turnover company are the world’s pros for home furnishing. Wikipedia, click here, has the full background, well worth a read.

Ikea Sofia

Ikea Sofia: Lowest EU Wages. Highest EU Prices?

So I ask, can you visit IKEA in Sofia, or any IKEA for that matter, without buying something? Well I couldn’t. But that does not mean you should start pulling out the cash quite yet. Read on for the reason why. But for some, Ikea’s restaurant is the attraction. The views towards Vitosha mountains and the vista over the city are impressive. Ikea Sweedish style food is, for me, less of an attraction.

The trademark windowless store and “follow the arrows” layout is the same the world over. This will be familiar territory for many foreigners — but novel for some natives. A Sofia city trip is great for late holidays — a ride to Ikea for property owners makes Ikea a tourist attraction: and the convenience factor so close to the airport on the ring road — as you can see from the video “How to Speed From Sofia to Bansko“.

IKEA Facts:  29,000m2 store area;   1,200 parking spaces;   free staffed children’s indoor play area.

Ikea Sofia Bulgaria

IKEA, Sofia - picture taken 13th September 2011

Service: is it any good?

I could not resist buying something — it really is hard at IKEA. My impression of the service, I think the jury is out. The cashier lady was certainly trying hard; but probably because I was their first paying customer. She forgot to pass me the item resting tantalisingly out of reach on a conveyor. The well designed and fabulously sharp Ikea cooks’ knife remained there until another lady on the adjacent till could see me waiting. Well, I was testing them a little here by not saying anything.

But don’t expect English skills to be universal here. It is Bulgaria and the signs are not dual language nor is the brochure. Other staff in store were generally smiling and helpful.

TIP : there are tens of thousands of holiday homes in Bulgaria owned by foreigners — please make it easy for these owners to part with their cash. An Ikea holiday rental home is likely to be better than many.

IKEA’s convenient location

The road work nearby will be completed by opening day in the 20th September and from this fine stretch of new ring road, on a clear day, you have just two hours and fifteen minutes to get to Bansko.

IKEA prices

Prices are more than the Thessaloniki (Greece) IKEA, and more than IKEA Romania. Higher prices than the UK prices — for example the cheapest and most basic table and four chairs. This is a great shame… so it still pays to bring small items from abroad to Bulgaria.

Whether it’s worthwhile making the trek to Greece, to avoid the higher Bulgarian prices is unclear. But prices are not identical in euro pegged land. Seems strange to me.

Lowest IKEA wages in Europe — HIGHEST PRICES! An avoidable PR mistake.

Conclusions on IKEA in Sofia

Whilst you, like me, may find it hard to resist buying something at a regular IKEA — in Sofia Ikea you will be, for the time being, a little more reluctant. So will this be the first Ikea with no big opening queue? We will see.

Ikea delivers good design and a great range of accessories for the kitchen, bathroom and a load of storage pieces. As for the furniture and kitchens, I just can’t see that Bulgarians will want to pay these prices. Aiko, less than two minutes drive along the ring road seems cheaper for kitchens. A novelty, a tourist attraction, a place for small items — yes I think so.  A stampede for flat packed furniture in the land of solid wood — well, I am not so sure until the prices are brought into line with Greece and Romania.

Furniture collection, delivery & sssembly for Bansko property owners

We will be studying prices and Ikea flat packed furniture demand. Until there is price alignment I am unable to recommend you go crazy for Ikea stuff — apart from the cheaper kitchen and bathroom accessories. Subscribe for news on this. If you are interested in Ikea items, but can’t collect items for yourself and need a delivery and/or assembly service, then please contact me.

At the moment, please just contact stating your interest.  If demand for this service is sufficient, probably when/if prices are lowered, then I will contact you.

Ikea alternatives for Bansko furnishing

Take a look at Bell Tower Apartment for an example of Warren Mace’s high quality furniture and home design. Bansko made products, solid wood and individual design. There is now a choice. Ikea fits the bill for many but for others you can have bespoke, locally designed, locally manufactured, environmentally friendly, individual solid wood furniture.

Can you resist buying in IKEA? Share your Ikea and furniture opinions below. All comments are welcome.


About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.

One Response to “Can you visit IKEA in Sofia and leave with nothing?”

  1. Milena says:

    Nice review, Lance! It is great to be able to see inside before everybody else 🙂

    You forgot one thing though that the Sofia IKEA store is unique for – it is on the skirts of Vitosha mountain, so the restaurant offers a superb view of the Bulgarian capital.

    As for the prices – the IKEA stores with the best prices are those owned by the mother company IKEA in a land with a good IKEA logistics center. The Bulgarian one is a subsidiary and delivers the goods from the Greek hub. This said, as you mentioned, the final prices are not that different than those in Greece.

    The furniture is truely not something you leave for the next generation, but you can achieve great home design with it and it is all in one place. I think it will change a lot of the Bulgarian interiors, too 🙂

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