There are so many shopping options nowadays it can be a real minefield. We've all bought online or grabbed a box off the shelf, then had no idea where to start once it's finally open at home.
Luckily, there's now a solution. Auckland's new Harvey Norman flagship store at Wairau Park claims to be a "must visit" location, letting you interact with the goods before you buy them.
I'm Sarah Templeton, Newshub Lifestyle editor, and after my visit I can confirm: there's fun to be had and purchases to be made. But of course, you don't want to miss out on anything while you're there. So if you're heading along to Harvey Norman's new mecca of household goods, here are some absolute must-dos:
It's important to have an appropriate buzz on when you're shopping. How else do you gain the clarity to narrow your choices down to one? As Harvey Norman Wairau Park spans two buildings -bedding and soft furnishings in one, electronics and appliances in the other - you're going to need to be appropriately caffeinated.
Luckily, there are countless coffee options in store, including a Nespresso bar and some touch-screen Breville coffee makers. Just be warned - they actually do make coffee, something that gave me a fright when I jokingly started pushing the buttons.
Experience the Experience Room
Nowhere does your experience soar to greater heights than the Experience Room. A small, glass-walled room down the back of the store, the experience room offers reclining chairs, a huge screen with a plethora of dramatic videos, surround sound... even a cup holder for that freshly made long black you're lugging around.
John Hollings, General Manager of computers at Harvey Norman, says that interactive areas such as these are about taking regular shopping "to the next level".
"It's about amping up the experience; making it more tactile and more interactive," he says. It's also possibly a great spot for an intimate and cost free date - coffee and a movie at Harvey Norman?
Get gaming at the Games Hub
You might be thinking I'm biased towards Games Hub because of the name, and you'd be right. But more than that, this is an interactive space where you can fulfil all your gaming and virtual reality-ing delights.
I personally have never played a video game in my life, so maybe I wasn't the best person to strap on the VR computer backpack and go for a wander. But too bad gaming fans because I DID. Essentially it's computer on your back, so your hands are free to wave off intruders when you have your virtual reality goggles on. Or something. Hollings says he's a "little bit biased" towards the Games Hub, where you can get your hands on all the beautiful gaming accessories.
"It's great fun down there," he says.
Try out every bed
Get your mind out of the gutter, I mean lie on them. But preferably not the beautifully made up ones the staff have meticulously put together to inspire including a green velvet and sequined number that looks like something out of The Great Gatsby. While you’re buying your bed you’ll probably want to grab what’s on it: I cried when I had to pull myself away from a faux fur throw.
I had a great time throwing myself back onto all the mattresses, whether they are firm or soft and plush. There were even adjustable beds so your partner could be upright watching a movie while you recline horizontal - a game changer if you also fall asleep about three hours before your partner. I even had a quick kip on some pretty plush cushions while camera guy Max set up something on his tripod. Actually doing his job... nerd.
Kick back in the furniture department
If you don’t have the room in your tiny inner-city apartment for a bed, stroll on down to the furniture department where the reclining La-Z-Boy loungers are so comfy you can sleep on them. And they have the added bonus of lying your body back for you, rather than you having to do it yourself (exhausting, as we all know).
Down with the dining tables you can comfortably spread out with say, six or so of your closest friends and family. Actually it’s not a bad spot for a business meeting if you and your colleagues HAPPEN to all be shopping at the same time. It could even be catered if you….
Feed up at the cooking demonstrations
Shopping can be serious cardio, and you've probably worked up an appetite making your way from white wear down to bedding. Along the way, you might have picked up a new blender (or two), so it's important to make sure you're well-fed. That's where the cooking demonstrations come in.
Head on down to the kitchen area and check out chefs like Fish alum Shane Yardley showing you how to put your new kitchenware to good use.
Hollings says the cooking demonstrations are one of his favourite parts of the store.
"It smells amazing," he laughs.
"I've eaten everything from there - there’s some really beautiful food and there's nothing like really experiencing what your brand new kitchen is going to do for you and the output it can give. It's absolutely fabulous."
And there you have it - all the tips to make your shopping experience at Harvey Norman the best it could possibly be. Go forth and buy my personal favourite: the Samsung Family Hub Fridge Freezer which has an ACTUAL SCREEN on the door so you can search for recipes and play Spotify when you cook! Honestly, with fridges like this, who needs friends?
This story was created for Harvey Norman, who invited us to come and check out their new flagship store at Wairau Park.