How to buy an IKEA couch and have it delivered to Alaska


Last year when we bought our new place, it was pretty obvious we couldn’t keep our old furniture. We sold it and then saved a little money until we had a furniture fund. Then I started looking around town to see what it would buy. Guess what? Not much. I have modern, simple taste. Finding things I liked in the sea of mocha dinette sets and La-Z-Boy recliners in this town wasn’t easy. Wouldn’t it be cool, I thought, if I could buy some pieces from IKEA? The only problem: They don’t ship to Alaska.

Soon I became obsessed. The new catalog had just come out, and I looked through it over and over. (Look! Here’s a link to this year’s catalog. Looks great on an iPad. Soooooo tempting.) There had to be a way. Even with pretty hefty shipping charges, sofas in particular would still be cheaper and cuter that what I could find in town. But how?

In the end, I did it twice. And I got cute furniture and saved money. But it was WAY, SUPER, CRAZY hard. That said, it felt great to actually get the furniture here. I WON THE LAME WE-DON’T-SHIP-TO-ALASKA BATTLE! You can, too.

If you’re going to do this, get your head in the right place. You are on your own. IKEA for Alaskans is a customer-service-free environment. You are a furniture-buying soldier going into hostile territory. You’re going to need self-reliance, endurance and persistence. Nobody is going to check that you have all the pieces you need. Those “Can I help?” buttons the IKEA people wear are not talking to you. They can’t help. If you call a number listed online, you will be on hold for a century, and whoever answers will NEVER have the information you need, but they will be happy to transfer you to voicemail that no one checks.

Not scared? Read on.

To begin: You have to find a freight-forwarding company willing to ship IKEA. IKEA does a terrible job packing their freight, so the forwarder I used successfully twice, Pacific Alaska Freightways, quit shipping their stuff. I called around and found two companies that will still ship to residential customers (businesses have other options).  Alaska Traffic does. They have a receiving warehouse about three blocks from IKEA outside Seattle and they do it all the time, said a woman I talked to on the phone. And Carlile said they have some options as well. There are others, too.

Get a shipping quote before you go. (This will help you figure out if it’s cheaper than a couch you can buy in town.) Every item in the catalog is also listed online. You can look it up and find the weight and dimensions of the boxes it comes in. You MUST have those two pieces of information to get a quote. Here’s the tab to look for below:

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.48.26 PM

The absolute best/cheapest thing to do is to actually go to IKEA when you go to Seattle for some other reason and rent a good-sized vehicle. You’ll get the widest selection that way. And you won’t pay lots of extra fees.

If you plan to actually go, and you have a big order like I did, you should plan to go twice. Before you go, measure your spaces and look carefully though the catalog so you don’t get lost. And, use the website to check and see if what you want is in stock at the store. The IKEA store is set up like a Swedish-designed psychological experiment involving rats. It’s a maze full of colorful distractions. If you don’t have a plan, you get trapped and can’t find a way out until you’re sweaty and crazy and so weak you will eat their weird meatballs. HAVE A PLAN. ALSO: You will never leave with all the parts you need. Ever. This is a law.

On the second time you go, you can get your missing parts and return the stuff that you bought that was broken. The biggest perk about actually going to the store is that when you buy the stuff, you can show your ID and avoid paying sales tax. (More on this later.) And, if you have a big enough car, you can just drive it to the shipper and you’ll be golden.

All you need then is a truck in Anchorage/Fairbanks to pick up the stuff when it comes in (the shippers usually offer delivery too, for a fee) and a couple of hours of assembly time. (Pro-tip: Assemble alone, without your significant other. That way you can only blame yourself when you are taking the couch apart with janky, odd-sized allen wrenches and putting it back together because you did it backward. Also: This is one of the few types of activities that wine does not help.)

But, maybe you won’t have a big-enough car to haul a couch to the warehouse. In that case, IKEA will deliver to the shipper three blocks away and charge you $50. I did this once, paying all fees, and even then it was still cheaper than buying a similar couch in Anchorage. They will also put your stuff on a pallet and wrap it in plastic. Sometimes they charge for this, sometimes they do not. Be super careful to check that everything makes it on the pallet.

Don’t want to fly to Seattle? The swanky couch with a name you can’t pronounce can STILL be yours. Many furniture pieces can be bought online and delivered to the shipper. I have done this. If the piece is at the Seattle store, the delivery charge will likely be pretty reasonable. Here’s the lame thing: If you buy online, you will be charged Washington sales tax. I don’t think there is a way around it. They say they will pay you back if you send a copy of your ID and proof that the item went to Alaska. But, though I tried super hard to actually do this, it never happened. I was once on hold for AN HOUR. I sent faxes and emails. Finally I gave up. Here’s what is nuts: Even with the tax, and the delivery fees, it was still cheaper than buying the same kind stuff in town!

And every time I sit down on it, I still feel smug.

Good luck. And, I’m by no means an expert on this. If you’ve got IKEA shipping tips, PLEASE share them in the comments!

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

36 thoughts on “How to buy an IKEA couch and have it delivered to Alaska

  1. I did this! I used American Fast Freight and just emailed the Seattle store my order, no online ordering needed! They sent me an invoice and then I called and paid over the phone. Easy peasy, Ikea shipped it to the freight forwarder (telling me that they’ve done this often) and then I picked it up in Anchorage. I ordered a bunch of Expedit shelves and a side table. I paid no tax, I paid a total of $99 in shipping and handling from Ikea to the freight forwarder and then paid I think around $120-150 for the shipping up to Anchorage.

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    1. How did you email them your order? I ordered a bunch from them in November and it was a massive pain trying to get ahold of anyone in Seattle. I found a random phone number that worked, but they wouldn’t take my order over the phone, and told me my only option was to be there in person.

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      1. Here is the email address I used: ikeabusiness250@ikea.com
        I originally called Ikea Online and they told me to contact the Seattle store. I just emailed them with the freight forwarders address and a quote number(American Fast Freight is who I used and you will need weight for this) and my order. She emailed me back with my order total and an authorization form and then called to take payment. It was very easy. Hope this helps!

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  2. It’s WAY easier than what you described Julia. When you shop at IKEA Seattle, just pick out all your stuff, pay for it, and go to Home Delivery after the checkout lanes. Pay them $65 to palletize your order and pick the shipper from their list. I’ve always used Lynden Transport. They have drop shipped several orders of furniture to me in Anchorage and the you don’t pay them til the goods show up at your house. Never had a problem and everything arrived intact.

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  3. PS I did this recently for a couple of friends in Anchorage. I happened to be in the Seattle area and posted on Facebook that I was going to IKEA. They both messaged me (they don’t know each other) and I actually bought their furniture for them, did as I described above, and the stuff was delivered in Anchorage about ten days later. No, I haven’t yet started my IKEA Personal Shopper business. But I might!

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  4. This is promising and good news for a couple of Seattle natives who just bought their first home in Ketchikan and need to furnish it. Our only options here on the island are a rediculously overpriced local furniture store or Walmart…Fingers crossed this works using AML. Don’t even get me started with the hot tub we are trying to purchase and have shipped from Costco in Seattle!

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  5. I knew there were people who did this. I started looking into once but didn’t have the wherewithal to deal with it at the time. Wish I had a good reason for a shopping trip in Seattle!

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  6. We shipped an entire kitchen up from ikea! It was $1000 to ship it (I think we used american fast freight), but it was still cheaper and way cooler than anything we found in town. We ordered it all online, and customer service was actually very helpful! They even helped me get the Washington sales tax back that I was charged!

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  7. Love love Ikea, for the same reasons you do! Simple and clean and stylish for little money. I break out in hives when I see those overstuffed recliner things and the heavy clunky dark wood in our main furniture stores!
    My BFF and I actually shipped up an entire kitchen for her and put it together ourselves (well okay my husband and her brother did the tough stuff) you could write another entire article on putting Ikea things together! I firmly believe that one has to enter the zone to do it- stare for extended periods of time at the world less instruction, until they somehow suddenly make some kind of sense. Okay, so the kitchen was a bit hard to put up initially – but now that I know the tricks, the next one would be cake walk! I am glad we don’t have an Ikea here, because jeez, my whole house is Ikea style, and if we had a store here then everybody’s would look the same…I do think it is better to go in person, for the tax write off but also because Ikea quality is not always consistent- some of their stuff is not so good, but some is awesome. Best to see it live. And I totally agree that one has to go twice- once is too overwhelming!
    We had no trouble with our shipments either, worked pretty well and smooth.
    We actually have a bizarre obsession, we go to Ikea stores in strange places, have been in Singapure, Perth, Portugal, Melbourne, and numerous ones in Germany. And they ALL have the meatballs!

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  8. This is how I’ve been shipping my Ikea merch up here as well. Furnished my first apartment in ’03 with all Ikea furniture. I typically go with Lynden Transport. Will definitely look into the freight companies you suggested.

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  9. I had to laugh reading this: I’ve shipped up well over 4,000 pounds of IKEA freight, including bookcases, chairs, one full kitchen and sundry other cabinets, countless nifty do-dads and cool lights, and over a dozen PAX units for closets, garage, and pantry (I’ve ordered for other people as well). The one thing I haven’t ordered is any of their couches, which I thought looked better than they felt, so I’m glad to hear yours is working out so well.
    Freight costs have gone up substantially since I first started ordering, but the last few times I brought the items up by car. The “new” cars we bought online, one on E-Bay and one through Craigslist, both cheaper and in better shape than anything we could find here. I flew down (once to Tennessee, once to Idaho), picked up the cars, stopped by IKEA, and then drove or took the ferry up. Good prices, and wonderful drives.
    That being said, most of my purchases have been long -distance. Some of the freight companies will deliver to your door (even to Girdwood, for a price), other times we’ve rented a UHaul, used our decrepit Costco trailer, or even hired a local transport company. But you’re right about how long it takes. I don’t think there’s any getting around that part!

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  10. We used Ship To Alaska for an IKEA couch and their ground partner delivered right to our condo door in Girdwood. Not past the door however, so I needed help anyway.

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  11. And for those of you in Southeast Alaska, Alaska Marine Lines is super close to the Seattle IKEA and if you are on their list of previous customers, they just charge you when you pick it up in Juneau/Ketchikan/Wrangell/Sitka. You can have it sent from the Seattle store under IKEA’s “home delivery” service and just give them AML’s address or rent car and take it 4 miles yourself.

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  12. I live in Washington and have shopped for family members living in Alaska, taken the items to the customer service and they wrapped it and they got it to the freight office, Lynden, I think. It all arrived in Anchorage intact. But you can run into problems with getting it paid, most often they require that the person picking the item up have the credit card that the payment was made with, so the person in Alaska can’t make a payment over the phone and then have me pick it up. I just had my family member send me the money in advance (it was for an entire kitchen of cabinets), then after the purchase I sent the balance back.

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  13. What a perfectly timed posting. We will be anchorage bound in the next 6 weeks and were wondering what kind of couches or loveseats would be around.

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  14. Hi….I’m pretty excited about these options everyone has mentioned, but I’m wondering if this works for other stores too? Like Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel or something?

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  15. It might be worthwhile getting in touch with IKEA and asking them if they might be willing to set up an official pick up location in Anchorage, as they have elsewhere in the world. I’m an Alaskan ex-pat currently living in Tasmania, and they just started doing that here last year. You put together a shopping list for one of the Melbourne stores, email it to them, and they ship it to a local freight depot in Hobart. I would imagine that the demand for Ikea goodies in Anchorage would be comparable (and probably much greater) than here – and as I said, it would be worthwhile getting in touch with them. If you’re curious about how it all works, here’s the website: http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_AU/customer_service/tasmania.html

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  16. I ordered a lot in November, and because I wasn’t physically there to place my order I had to do it online. It look a month for them to ship it cross country to the Seattle Carlisle office, and then it was freight forwarded to me from there in 2-3 days. I loved the Carlisle option – I could look up each item and see what the shipping would be. The entire shipping from Carlisle was about $300 for tables, chairs, dressers, bookcases, storage supplies, etc. I will definitely do it again but would rather find a way to work directly with the Seattle office and skip the cross country shipping. Interesting to see how other people have done this!

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  17. Hi all,

    I am moving to Fairbanks in July, and since I am completely new to this delivery business, could any one of you give me a rough amount for how much your freight ended up costing? I am looking to purchase an entire 1-bedroom setup from IKEA – any information would be helpful! My email is linsy22689@gmail.com if you don’t feel comfortable posting here.

    Thank you!
    Steven

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    1. I know that Anchorage is probably far more common of a location – but so far my price quotes have been all over the place so any kind of bearing on a ballpark figure would be awesome. 🙂

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      1. I just figured out my shipping and at the end of 2013 (when I ordered) I paid $152 for about 380lbs of IKEA furniture with American Fast Freight to Anchorage. Plus the $99 for shipping and handling at Ikea to the freight forwarder.

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  18. I have shipped from Ikea to Fairbanks several times. I order over the phone from Seattle. pay the $75 to have them drive the order to Lynden Transport. Lynden delivers it to Fairbanks, or straight to my house for $50 extra. All together shipping adds approximately 35% to the cost of the order but it is worth it. We have purchased wardrobes, sinks & bathroom cabinets, beds and more.

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  19. Just a quick update – I just worked with an Anchorage company helping with shipping ( https://www.shopndeliverbylulu.com ). They’re handling my whole IKEA order (about 250 pounds) including purchasing, delivery to the Seattle docks, shipping, and delivery to their store in Anchorage for about $120. I think I just found my new favorite way to deal with IKEA.

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