The beginnings of IKEA

The brainchild of IKEA is the late Ingvar Kamprad, a Swedish businessman. He envisioned a store full of functional furniture that's easy to assemble.

He started his first business at age five. He bought matchbooks in bulk and sold them individually. When he was 10, he was selling pens, pencils, seeds for flower, and Christmas tree decorations. Kamprad started IKEA in 1943 when he was 17 years old.

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A brief history of IKEA: From cheap bookcases to Swedish meatballs

businessofbusiness.com

  • The name IKEA comes from Ingvar Kamprad's initials, followed by the name of the farm he grew up on and the name of his home village: Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd.
  • Kamprad made a mail-order catalogue - an essential part of IKEA's business from a remote location.
  • At first, he sold small household goods like pens, wallets, and picture frames. Five years later, the store started selling furniture made by local manufacturers. The prices were so low that people questioned the quality, so Kamprad rented an old workshop to display his furniture.

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Ingvar Kamprad solved the problem of shipping large furniture when he disassembled a coffee table so it could be packed flat. From then on, as many products as possible were packed this way.

By 1955, Kamprad's manufacturers were boycotting IKEA due to its low prices. He addressed the issue by designing and producing in-house.

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IKEA expanded to other countries, Norway in 1963, Denmark in 1969. Over the next decade, IKEAs spread to countries like Germany, Japan, Australia and Canada.

There is a system to the unusual product names. Beds have names of places in Norway. Sofas are named after towns in Sweden. Kitchen tables get their names from geography in Finland. Rugs have Danish names. Chairs are named after men. Glasses and cups have adjectives as names.

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