Ikea, established in 1943, is popular in many circles, because it is a store with a wide selection of relatively inexpensive, yet stylish and modern furniture. Ikea was also one of the first businesses to introduce the concept of 'ready to assemble' furniture and appliances. Of course, not everyone is terribly keen on spending long hours deciphering seemingly obscure instructions and putting together store-bought furniture, but a really positive aspect of Ikea's approach is that it is far easier to transport tables, bookcases, chairs and other items home, as they are packaged in flat, easy to handle boxes. This was a real novelty in the 1950s, when Ikea first started selling furniture. (Originally, the Swedish company only sold smaller products, such as watches, table runners, photo frames, etc.)
Another reason why Ikea is so popular, is that furniture sold in these stores tend to be designed with maximum flexibility in mind. As a result, these products are utilitarian, consumer friendly and it becomes possible to create a modern, avant garde home on a relatively tight budget.
For those who like a good meal, most Ikea stores also have Swedish cafeteria-style restaurants, offering an array of Swedish and continental dishes.
In many East European countries, Ikea was the first major western chain to open large, department stores near urban centres during the early 1990s. As such, one can imagine the excitement of local residents who had never before seen stores of such size and such a wide selection of products.