Dustin and Jennifer Culton have filled hundreds of Omaha residents’ homes with IKEA products. They’re not employees of the Swedish housewares giant, though. The husband and wife team, both 37, actually work in the insurance industry. About a year ago, they started Omaha Modern, a side business that gives customers in Omaha and other Midwest cities, where the nearest IKEA store is several hours away, access to the retailer’s popular contemporary items.
“We’re like personal shoppers for IKEA,” says Dustin. Every month, the Cultons make one or two 13-hour round trip drives to the IKEA location in Minneapolis to pick up tables, chairs, flatware, bedding, light fixtures, and other items for their customers. For each journey, the couple spends 6 to 10 hours in the store and goes through the checkout line 6 to 10 times to purchase more than a hundred items, which they haul back to Omaha in an enclosed trailer that was previously for family use.
Jennifer, who recently gave birth and had to skip the last few trips, describes the monthly runs as their own “little adventure.” For many IKEA fans in Omaha and nearby areas, the Cultons’ “adventure” certainly saves them a whole lot of time and money. Only 30 percent of IKEA’s items are available through its website, and ordering online can rack up shipping costs that are higher than the product itself.
Though Omaha Modern charges a 30 to 35 percent pickup fee, buying through them is still less expensive. The company has received more than 300 orders over the past year. “That’s business [IKEA] may not have seen,” Dustin says.
And what does IKEA think about the Cultons’ business? “There are definitely some resourceful IKEA fans out there,” says company spokesman Joseph Roth. “So more power to them until we come to town.”