Fun And Free: Ikea?

Love, Self

The Swedish furniture store sparks some great, free date ideas.

Good news: the economic big brains (except for Dr. Doom(s), Nouriel Roubini and Marc Faber) think the market is heading for a rebound and that typically precedes a general rebound by 12-18 months. Bad news: joblessness has hit 9.5%. While the statistics and methodology for determining joblessness borders on pseudo-science, it's a bad sign indeed. So people will have to continue drinking powdered water (just add water) for the time being. But how do you keep the relationship (the old ball and chain) fun during these times of woe? "Be creative and keep your peepers peeled" is how.

Our pahtnahs (sound it out) over at Shine are reporting that Ikea (the Swedish furniture brand that allows you the freedom to construct your own furniture and invariably give you enough extra parts that you're convinced you did something wildly wrong during the assembly) in New York offers childcare services to customers. In fact, the "customers" need not be even actively shopping to receive 45 minutes of free couch time.

I know what you're thinking, "are you, the impeachable Tom Miller, really suggesting that we go to this department store for free and not get strong-armed into purchasing a futon that we don't really need?" Yes, I also thought it would be a good idea for you to see me at Lord & Taylor during the Man Panel. It's their job to get you in the store. It's your job to only buy what you need to survive. (Note: I've been convinced that I cannot do without a pair of pinstriped pants by a motivated and hands-y saleswoman. Make sure "no" means "no" and not "convince me.")

And while there may be no Ikea in your town ("I'll move to Cleveland when you get that Ikea."), there are definitely stores in your area trying to drum up beeswax by offering free stuff. Evidently, retailers are concerned about the interwebs taking away their customers and are willing to return a personal touch to shopping to keep you in the store. Your mission: exploit that personal touch. Most local papers have a consumer reports guy (or gal) that will write about cool deals and quirky perks associated with certain stores (if they're not doing that, please write the paper and get some action). And since the store is only being nice so that you buy something, it's your job to act interested until you've had your fill of fun.

Other places you can exploit for a little couples fun time: car dealerships (take a spin in a car you are never ever going to buy), house porn (tour homes that you are never ever going to buy), timeshares (go to sunny Boca Raton to look at a condo you are never ever going to spend two weeks a year at) or even a free round of golf (at a country club that you will never ever belong to). The important thing is that you do it together and remain a team against the sales force, try being good cop, bad cop and then switching at the next place.

Is it marginally dishonest to use these services with no intention of making a purchase? Yes, yes it is. But you can go back to spending frivolously and giving in to high-pressure sales tactics back when you're making that George W. Bush end of first term / beginning of second term era loot. Salespeople had years of living high of their commission.

Please sound off with any giveaways or cheap consumer thril ls that you've run across (even if it's just the moment of elation of putting on an engagement ring that you will never ever be able to afford).