The High cost of low prices [IKEA edition]

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On paper, IKEA could hardly appear more virtuous: an eco-friendly company that gives all its money to a charitable trust. But President Ingvar Kamprad is actually a canny, media-manipulating, racist ex-Nazi who produces low-quality furniture from questionable materials, running a company whose profits are funneled through a collection of shady Dutch charities that let it dodge taxes while claiming to fund design projects that ultimately become part of the company’s research and development.

A journalist in 1994 threatened to expose Kamprad’s adolescent membership in Nazi youth organizations. Kamprad addressed the matter publicly, apologizing to his Jewish employees and dismissing this revelation as a brief and foolish flirtation with Nazism. But it appears he may have been raising funds and recruiting members as late as September 1945, and he remained friends with a Swedish fascist politician through the 1950s.

And Kamprad’s Nazi adventure may have been indicative of a deeper vein of racism. Johan Stenebo, Kamprad’s former personal assistant, says Ikea execs often refer to foreigners as “niggers” and deny them promotions. All of Ikea’s top executives come from the same small region of Sweden as Kamprad, Stenebo alleges; he also characterizes Kamprad’s heir apparent, Peter, as an “incompetent racist.”

*As an extremely frugal individual, I’m am deeply saddened by this news. A phrase kept popping into my news as I read the original article: “Voting with your wallet.” Should I be feel a responsibility to my own personal finances or to the greater social issues that are funded by my $49.99 purchase of the Billy Bookshelf on Aisle 1 bin 7? What do you think?

4 Replies to “The High cost of low prices [IKEA edition]”

  1. Ikea has crack prices, nuff said! I don’t need to boycott b/c I don’t shop there anyway.

    You can always shop vintage to save money and you won’t have to put it together yourself. There’s also furniture outlet stores & craiglist.org.

  2. JR Reid says:

    That’s ridiculous and if I didn’t know I would be in there taking down some swedish meatballs right now however since you uncovered his racist background I will discontinue any purchases from the retailer, now that I’m an educated consumer. A Nazi and swindler, that’s harsh but sadly the majority of people won’t care as long as they can get a quality bookshelf or bunk bed set for the low low.

  3. aka Tito says:

    I’m still torn… Yes they have an evil past but so do most American Companies. Many banks have ties to slavery but I still swipe my Wachovia ATM card daily. On the other hand, I have to ask myself does saving a few bucks warrant supporting those who would not support me?

  4. calijoy says:

    I echo Tito’s comment. How many of us wear diamonds, knowing the CURRENT shady practices of diamond mines and distributors? How many of us have our checking accounts, 401ks, IRAs, and mortgages with financial institutions that were involved in slavery or the holocaust?

    I’m all about a boycott. I didn’t start purchasing anything from Texaco until about 2 years ago because their execs made racist remarks in the ’90s. While I do not question that the company’s founder had a shady past, what is the current structure? Who are the current execs? If they are still rocking swastikas (sp) then yes, we should stop shopping there and spread the word. But if its in the past, we should only stop when we stop supporting other companies with racist pasts.

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