By Samia Madwar
I recently learned that big-box stores are, to many, a measure of civilization.
Whenever I announced to friends and family I was moving to Yellowknife, invariably one of the first questions they would ask was, “Do they have IKEA there?”
“No,” I’d answer, “but there’s a Walmart.”
Sighs of relief.
It’s strange to me that many people consider one of the most daunting aspects of moving up North the absence of logos they know so well. Of course, the logos atop big-box stores mean familiarity and convenience, and I can understand that. I have to admit, I myself was comforted to see Canadian Tire, The Brick and Tim Horton’s when I got my first tour of Yellowknife. And that’s odd, because I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve shopped at Canadian Tire or even Walmart; I’m not particularly fond of Timbits and I’m pretty sure I’ve never set foot in The Brick.
But when I saw those stores along Old Airport Road, I was glad to know I could report them all back to my loved ones in Montreal and Ottawa to reassure them that I’m not moving to Mars. We have big city stuff here.
“But still – no IKEA? How will you manage?”
To be honest, the thought of furnishing my new home up North without Kivik, Grönö and Aspelund is nothing short of liberating. Finally, I’ll get to think outside the big-box and venture into the real world – that is, YKtrader, Yellowknife’s own Kijiji, where the classifieds section is a treasure trove of used furniture. I’ve also had colleagues generously offer me furniture they’re willing to part with.
I don’t mean to diminish IKEA at all. I’ve always enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I get from assembling couches and beds, and like many I have a soft spot for those cute Scandinavian names. But in this new world without flat furniture and wordless instruction sheets, I get to find my own way – with help from a very welcoming community – to assemble my new home in Yellowknife.