Jim Heffernan wrote a blog entry about problems assembling a table he bought at IKEA in the Twin Cities and plans to take it back.
He then wrote another entry on what the acronym IKEA means: I Kan't Envision Assembly!
This hit my curiosity nerve I went to the Swedish version of ikea.com but found nothing. I typed "Vad betyder IKEA" into Google ("What does IKEA mean") and got several hits. The most promising one was "IKEA specialarbete", apparently an unattributed school paper done in 1995.
IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd. Ingvar Kamprad was the founder; he was born on the farm Elmtaryd in the village of Agunnaryd in Småland.
As a teenager he started out buying matchboxes for 1.5 öre and selling them for 5 öre, an öre being the smallest Swedish coin. He wanted to be as rich as Ivar Krueger, the match king. He moved up through various small items including seed packets, pens, and clocks. He was doing so well selling pens that ke decided he had better be incorporated and registered IKEA. His father had to sign for the incorporation because Ingvar was only 17!! This was in 1943.
In 1953 he bought a carpentry shop and converted it to a furniture store and by 1958 he had a warehouse.
The writer calls this a Swedish version of "The American Dream". In 1995 IKEA was worth four to five times the value of the Wallenberg fortune, the Wallenbergs being considered one of the richest families in Sweden. The IKEA fortune was created in only a generation.
IKEA franchises now span the globe; see http://www.ikea.com/ for a list of locations.
What's this about socialist Sweden?
BTW we and our adult children still have furniture that we bought in Sweden in the early 1970s.