The Slow Decline of Quality

A few weeks ago we had to make the long pilgrimage to visit our financial planner. He was very handy when I lived close to his office, but now that we're out in the boonies, seeing him is an orchestrated event.

Since we had to be out "in the world" we always make a day of it and visit our favorite places in the big cities.

One of those used to be Ikea. My, how the store has changed.

It's still humongous. 310,000 square feet! You get your steps in walking that store. 

It's been several years since we'd been to Ikea. We loved seeing all the new and practical items they sold. And we still have each and every item ever bought there.

I don't think I can say the same about the products they sell today.

When I relocated to north Texas for work, I had to buy a new computer desk. Ikea (in Frisco, TX) was brand new then. 

I found the perfect work desk. It was modular and organic-looking. A kind of kidney shaped blond wood with a matching file cabinet. Being modular you could add pieces to it so I bought the whole set thinking I'd need the extra surface area. 

The whole package cost us nearly $400, which seemed a lot of money then, but I felt the quality was there.

It was such a nice desk that the people who bought my house in the city asked if they could buy my desk as well. --I sold the house but kept my desk.

Even Greg liked my desk and bought himself the same one when he finally moved in with me.

Fast forward to 2023. We wandered throughout Ikea and not a single thing looked good enough to buy. I was in the market for a good garlic garlic press, extra large salt and pepper shakers, and an unbreakable soap dish for the shower. 

I should've found all of these things easily at Ikea yet everything I found was wanting in quality. We walked out without seeing a single thing worth buying.

I would've had better luck at a thrift shop.

The desks they carry now are a pale shadow of the kind we bought. There was a similar looking desk in the showroom but it looked flimsy and cheap. My desk is 18 years old and looks as pristine today as when I bought it. I doubt this new, smaller desk can say the same in 20 years.

Maybe it's just me, but it's depressing to see such a decline in quality. To add insult to injury prices have gone into ridiculous mode.

Nowadays, we mostly shop to replace existing items that are irreparable or in dire need of an upgrade.

Case in point: For two years, my double wall oven was giving signs of distress. The lower oven stopped working altogether, and the upper oven was beginning to give me problems. It had been a good oven for 25 years. It was time for a replacement.

Since this is our last house and I cook a lot, Greg insisted we replace our Dacor ovens with an equally high end model.

I agreed and was especially frugal the year before so I could afford a Viking double oven with French doors.

One of the problems I have with wall ovens is that I'm too short and have burned myself more times than I can count trying to reach into the oven.

Not so with the French doors. The doors open wide and the trays slide out smooth as glass. I highly recommend them.

About the only thing I can complain about the Viking is that it took 8 months for it to come in. The store manager knew me so well, he was calling the corporate office the minute he saw me walk in the door.

It arrived, but I still didn't get out of it without a hitch. It turns out his people didn't measure correctly and the ovens wouldn't fit without removing the upper cabinet doors. Since it was the appliance store's fault they gave me a generous credit to pay for the new doors.

The whole thing has been a huge pain, but I'm happy with the oven. ...And I'm still happy with my desk. 

I try to buy the best I can afford whenever possible. About the only thing I have to buy every 6-7 years is a new mattress. Costco has been the best place for mattresses and they're fairly reasonable.

They also have a great return policy. I bought a guest bed that (gasp!) I actually had to use when my floors were being redone. It was awful. I didn't realize how hard that mattress was. (You guessed it. I went with the lower priced brand because it was a guest room.)

The mattress was nearly a year old, but Costco gladly refunded my money. I bought a higher end mattress this time and got rave reviews from the few guests who have tried it.

It's really hard to find and afford quality, but it's worth it in the long run.

What's been your experience with the quality of goods out today? Have you noticed a downward trend?

What's your preference in mattresses? I switched to memory foam mattresses 20 years ago. It feels better on my back.


Mike Keyton said…
I’m mean with money eg you never need more than two pair of jeans, one to wear while the other is in the washing machine. But on big item things I buy the very best I can afford. On another note, I’m truly glad you got use from that guest bed
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I'm just glad I didn't subject you to that bed. That should teach me always to try out the guest bed before I invite people. At least I wasn't out any money. The store had a great refund policy. They were happy to take it back.

I didn't used to buy the best, but I do now. How much longer do I have on this earth anyway?
Luba Meader said…
I will try to attach a picture of my desk it is messy with papers and other such stuff, but I spend a lot of time up here in my "She-Room." I love to write and I especially like poetry. My desk is old as well but very, very sturdy and I dare not dispose of it for a new one; simply because I know it wouldn't be as sturdy as this one. They don't make them like they used to. My last purchase was for my living room. I bought two rocker recliners big ones. But it's mostly for show. My "She-Room" consists of two rooms are actually 2 bedrooms one I converted into the computer room but have a daybed up here as well for company there is the bedroom/TV room. I share your sentiments. I heard from someone say: "You get what you pay for..." So I am paying more for better workmanship and comfort. All in all, I am a penny pincher and always look for value. I switched mattresses 4 years ago. I love my new mattress, it is a memory foam. My one luxurious splurge.
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: I'm sorry you couldn't post a picture of your desk. I love seeing how other people live and work.

If I bought a rocker recliner I'd never get my old man away from the tv. LOL!

I have a pinched nerve in my back, so I'm picky about mattresses. According to the mattress association you're supposed to buy a new one every 7 years because of all the buildup of sweat, dirt, oils, and dead dust mites.

By year six, my back is usually ready for a new bed anyway.
Luba Meader said…
I will try again in the morning after I'm done working, more like mid-morning. I must warn you Maria, its messy, though. 🤭 Your desk area is very neat and organized compared to mine. Wish me luck. I'll send to messenger. Goodnight!
Maria Zannini said…
Luba: It's only neat for the photo session so I could show the desk. LOL!

In truth I only straighten it up when I do taxes or start a new project. I like to start new projects with a clean desk.