Ikea, I hardly knew ya.

Ikea shopping alternatives in Kingston, Ontario
When I moved to Kingston  last spring, it was the first time I’d ever put down roots in a town without an Ikea.  I’ve since found plenty of people with whom to commiserate about this sad fact, but at the time, I was shocked and appalled. Where would I get my cheap rugs and toilet brushes? How would I shelve my cookbook collection without ready access to the Billy series? Once the initial sadness subsided, I steeled myself for the cold road ahead and set out to find Kingston’s best Ikea alternative. What followed was, like most things related to moving, annoying and expensive, but here’s a summary of my findings. I hope it’ll be as useful for all you Kingston newcomers as it was for me.

Canadian Tire, Division Street Location

Perks: Extremely quiet.  This location has a Mark’s Work Wearhouse attached to it, and my mother bought herself a cowboy shirt there. I guess this might not be a perk for everyone, but hey, you never know.  It is also close to the No Frills, in case you need some groceries. Abundance of cheap bathroom fixtures, curtain rods, placemats, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and birdseed bells.  Shelving units come with legible directions for assembly. Of note: I bought a really amazing pair of flip flops here for 10$.

Drawbacks: Kafkaesque nightmare of aisle organization. Notable lack of display space (I want to KNOW what my shelving unit is going to look like all set up before I buy it! Is that so wrong?). No staff eye contact.

Grade: B+.

Canadian Tire, Gardiners Road Location

Perks: Apparently this is the largest Canadian Tire in Canada, which says something, I guess.

Drawbacks: Terrifyingly large. I didn’t make it past the parking lot.

Grade: n/a.

Zellers, Cataraqui Town Centre Location

Perks: Food Court adjacency, making a post-shopping trip to New York Fries and/or Orange Julius easy.  If corporate junk food doesn’t do it for you, Zeller’s also has a wicked diner-style lunch counter straight out of 1975  (it’s no Ikea hot dog, but it’ll do).  Insane selection of cheap bedding and pillows. Impressive grocery section filled with cheap treats.  They also have a surprising number of plants for sale, and if they can survive under the fluorescent lights, they must be hardy.  A lot like Wal Mart in that you can buy pretty much anything there, but at least it’s Canadian-owned. Or maybe it’s not. I don’t keep up with corporate politics the way I used to.

Drawbacks: Atmosphere resembling my idea of a punishing underworld. Dim lighting, staff that are not only unhelpful but almost malicious, abundance of Hannah Montana merchandise.

Grade: B.

Vandervoorts Pro Hardware, 77 Princess Street

Perks: This place looks like nothing from the outside, but when you walk in the front door you are transported to this Willy Wonka version of a hardware store, complete with lofty ceilings and a gelato counter (for real!). Delightfully random stock, from kitchen chairs and tables to lamps to patterned vinyl for lining your drawers (I love that there is still a need for products like this!).  And boating supplies! Amazing! Convenient downtown location is also a boon, as is the satisfying feeling of supporting an independent business.

Drawbacks: Not a one, my friends.

Grade: A.

…But enough about my shopping preferences. What do you do to assuage the empty spot in your heart left by a lack of Lack tables? Thanks and Kilppan Loveseats to ASurroca for today’s photo.

11 thoughts on “Ikea, I hardly knew ya.

  • JYSK is a fairly good Ikea alternative in Kingston – right down to some items being way over priced, some way under, and no explanation as to why. :)

  • Don’t forget the IKEA in Ottawa is only 1.5 hours away! ;-)

  • I’ve often wondered about JYSK–I work out in the township so I’ll have to check it out. And as for Ikea in Ottawa, I just moved from our nation’s capital, and vowed never to return, not even for budget Swedish decor. I may have to make an exception at some point, though.

  • @4jeg 1.5 hours away is definitely not convenient, and perhaps not worth it considering the longevity of the average Ikea product. Still though, I would endorse a Kingston-based Ikea for their cheap hotdogs, and because this City needs more places for me to spend rainy Sundays.

  • I had my first visit to the Ikea in Ottawa this summer, and I must say I was sorely disappointed. It is so much smaller than the Ikea’s in the GTA, and it doesn’t have all the products in stock! I can’t say that there is really any comparable furniture store here, but on occasion I have noticed that Liquidation World has furniture at decent prices.

  • Hmmm. I was most impressed to read an honest, forthright account of the shopping experience in Kingston. Add to it the lack of wheelchair access, and it can be a real nightmare. For an insightful look of the downtown shopping experience, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4AOgAMeAl4. It is a homemade slideshow/educational piece about the inaccessible shopping experience. The south side will be coming soon. Thanks for the great article though. It makes me feel less ‘alone.’

  • Have you tried the used stores of which Kingston has any number? You find the most amazing bargains there sometimes. Samsonite chairs $7 10 years ago and still on my patio. Retailed at, maybe, $150 each 20 years ago. $7 patio table to go with them. It’s wasn’t originally expensive, but a functional patio table in metal at $7? $21 oak parquet coffee table. $120 solid oak desk from Turke’s. $168 executive desk from a used furniture sale at a local factory. $150 for nylon covered sofa and chair from a sale at a local insurance company. $20 for a birch desk from Turke’s. Who needs IKEA?

  • Scan Design sells furniture done in the same updated style as Ikea, although the brands they sell (EQ3 etc.) are silly expensive in comparison to Ikea or Jysk.

  • Ikea has no need to build here. We’re reasonably equidistant from the stores in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Why bother with the expense?

    We were in the depths of the Ottawa store the day after the summer blackout a ocuple of years ago when the lights went out. Man, that place gets dark inside! They had enough generator power for some lighting and the cash regsters and they handed out boxes of cinnamon buns to any and all. :-)

  • I quite like JYSK, I can usually find what I’m looking for at a pretty good deal and their stuff is generally a bit more modern.

  • I have never been to an Ikea…All my friends that have been raving about them…I decided this year to do a renovation of my apartment and replace some old furniture and such..After comparing prices of the things I bought here in town at Walmart/Zellars/Sears/Canadian Tire and various used places to similar things at Ikea, I decided that I was definitely not missing out on anything. They aren’t really that cheap and their products can be found other places in slightly different forms.

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