Circumstances made a smart kid smarter
Ingvar Kamprad did things differently from the start. Instead of selling matches for pennies, he should’ve been working hard on his father’s family farm in Elmtaryd. It was the depression. Poverty was widespread. People queued for food, for jobs, for everything. Everyone, children included, should waste nothing – not even time.
In the Swedish province of Småland where Ingvar lived, the stony land produced poor crops. Farming wasn’t enough to survive. People had to be innovative, creative, strong and stubborn. Families were thrifty, and many became entrepreneurs to make ends meet, selling homemade goods or preserved foods.
This was true for his family, too. His mother started a guest house. Her father owned the largest country store in Älmhult, a town 20 km from Elmtaryd. Before moving to the farm, Ingvar often spent whole days in the shop, playing and running errands (when he wanted; his grandfather was more buddy than boss).
Ingvar understood his family’s hardship and wanted to help. But rather than doing farm chores, he focused on helping the family finances. Whether or not his small contributions made a difference, his family did the unconventional and supported their little match-selling entrepreneur. The future IKEA founder’s first customer was his father’s mother.