Some of us may have an ongoing love-hate relationship with IKEA. Though the big retailer has made great strides in revamping itself as a sustainable company, on the other hand, it has no doubt helped perpetuate an exploitative consumer climate for cheap, mass-produced goods that are perceived as less sturdy than custom-crafted products (and damn those stores that make you feel like a purgatorial rat in a maze).
In any case, IKEA itself is now picking up on something bargain hunters have known for a while: the best place to find cheap furniture -- for cheap -- is to buy it second hand, online. IKEA's "Second Hand Campaign," a real-life online marketplace launched by Oslo-based ad agency SMFB, and promoted by print and TV ads, allowed Norwegian customers to buy and sell used IKEA furniture -- something that already happens quite often on places like Craigslist.
According to Creativity magazine:
The agency and Ikea put a call out to its patrons, asking them if they could help them sell their used goods. Many people responded and 50 were chosen for the campaign. Ikea gathered their used pieces and produced real ads using those goods. Alongside pictures of the second-hand items were printed the owners' actual phone numbers for potential buyers to call. Outside of the ads, Ikea's Facebook page became a digital flea market where sellers and buyers could do business every Sunday.
As the ad stresses, the point to save these still-usable pieces from the landfill by finding them new owners, and of course at the same time subtly counteracting IKEA's reputation for making quickly obsolete and "disposable" goods.
It has proven to be a brilliant move: though the campaign lasted only eight weeks, all the items listed in the online flea market actually sold, and all without the usual hassle that comes with Craigslist furniture-hunting (flaky, and sometimes creepy, sellers and buyers). Could the project's success translate someday to a permanent, second-hand IKEA market, actually run by IKEA? Only time will tell; let us know what you think in the comments below about this online IKEA flea market, or your experiences buying used furniture online.