Thursday, August 07, 2008

Breaking at Dawn

I love a good clothing sale. Even if I don’t end up buying anything, I still like to see what’s out there. A lot of online clothing stores have popped up around Utah – especially those boasting modest clothing options for those of us who like to be fashionable but don’t like to dress like Hollister models.

Last year my cousin Monica introduced me to Layers Clothing. She wore a really cute shirt to a fundraiser we were at and I ended up buying the exact same shirt. And I’ve bought several items since. Every summer, Layers has a clearance warehouse sale. I purposely avoided it last year because a) I hate crowds, b) I hate people pushing me, and c) I hate waiting in line.

Somehow, this year, I had the stupid idea of attending the sale. It started at 8 AM on Saturday. So I woke up a little earlier than I normally would. There’s something about being up, dressed, make-upped, and in your car with a “to do” list that makes you feel like you are going to have one productive day.

So I drove clear out to 4500 South for this sale. As I was pulling off the freeway I thought to myself, “Ugh. There are going to be a TON of people here.” And then I thought, “Laura, what makes you think everyone has the same idea you have? What makes you think everyone likes the same clothes you do and everyone, like you, is willing to wake up early on a Saturday just to get a deal?”

As I pulled into the Crestwood Business District at 7:50 AM, this is what I saw as I approached the Layers Warehouse:

I took my foot off the gas and coasted as I tried to decide whether I should just turn around and get the heck out of Dodge. But then I thought, “No, I woke up for this, I drove out here for this.”

So I parked. And I walked towards the line of women. I was about 200 people back. You’d think they were waiting in line for a rock concert. Or, to be more specific to the demograph, you’d think they were waiting in line for the opening of “Twilight”.

I would say 90% were in their early to mid 20’s. And I would say 50% of them were young mothers because 50% of them either had a pregnant belly or they brought their kids. “Who brings their kids to witness this madness?” I thought. Leave them with the husband. Just as I thought that a pregnant lady behind me said, “I thought about bringing my baby but decided it would be the worst idea in the world.”

It wasn’t until ten past eight that they opened the doors and everyone rushed in. Plastic bins with sizes written on them lined the folding tables, they had cookies and water coolers set out and a bunch of draped-off sections that said “don’t come back here, employees only.”

Obviously, it was hard to move around. I was expecting heartless, relentless pushing and shoving but was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the shoppers were very considerate. If I was looking in the same bin as someone, she would ask “What size are you looking for? If I come across it I’ll let you know.” Although everyone was pretty much looking for the same size (medium) so those went fast.

I grabbed about three items and decided I was done. I looked up to see where the line to pay started. It was already wrapping the perimeter of the warehouse – and I wasn’t even close to the front. Girls were taking turns waiting in line for each other as the other ones fetched cups of water and cookies. A teenager was sitting on a pile of clothes in a bin as she waited in line. Her mother pushed her forward a couple inches every 5 minutes or so. I chatted with the girls behind me. They were nibbling on cookies and complaining about anything they could think of. We commiserated.

Girls were trying on tops over their clothes. I decided to do the same with the swim top I grabbed. “Eh,” I thought as I threw it back in the bin to my left. I didn’t want it that bad.

It started to get hot. Girls were wiping their brow and putting their head between their legs. One of the girls who used to be behind me returned to her group and whispered something and then they, quite nonchalantly, left. Hmmm…I thought. Suspicious. Shortly after there was an announcement that the cashiers decided to form a second line. “What!” I screamed in my head. That's where those girls went. I felt a little betrayed.

I had been waiting in line for a half hour at this point and moved maybe 4 yards. I noticed the girl in front of me was reading a book with a black hardcover. She was about halfway through. I looked up and around and noticed a lot of girls had that book in line. I asked what she was reading and she said it was "Breaking Dawn" the new Twilight book that came out the night before. She waited in line all night for that too.

And that was my tipping point. Something happened inside me. Any desire I had for these remaining three items in my arms was quickly waning. I thought, “This is SO not my scene.”

I looked ahead of me and calculated how much longer I would be standing there based on how far I had moved in the past 30 minutes. I figured another 2 1/2 hours. I looked down at the orange dress I picked out and thought “Yeah, it’s only $10 but I don’t need it.” I took a big breath (I would say cleansing, but there was no clean air in there). A Layers employee walked past the line with a couple electric fans. I thought about all the things I needed to get done that day. I looked at my other two shirts and realized I would be perfectly happy without them. I looked around me one more time, set the clothes down on a table, and then walked out.

You might say I gave up; I couldn’t handle it. But I’m telling ya, I walked out of that sweat house feeling empowered and liberated. And perfectly capable of paying full price for a piece of clothing in a more desirable and accessible environment. Never again.

I can’t wait for their Fall line.


Kelly Durham said...

Oh, man! That sounds like hell on earth. A truly thrilling sale price purchase CANNOT involve huge throngs of people, in my book. I WILL be checking out the online store, though!

Cameron's Corner said...

You should have taken someone with you so you'd have someone to complain with.

Next time just take your BIG purse and steal whatever you want. Then do the calculations when you get home and mail them a check.

Just don't get caught, cause I doubt they'd believe you.

Rhett said...

Wait... so 90% of women their were in their 20s and only about half of those were married.... ummmmm... i so would have gone with you! Its like the fish swimming to capistrano...

SRA said... Although I probably could have guaranteed you the experience you had without your having had to go through it, I'm glad you did and I'm glad you came to that conclusion. The young, married, perfectly-coiffed/makeuped, perfectly perfect Mormon girl demographic makes me want to puke puke puke.

Give me online shopping over that ANY day.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

HA. I'm going to counter blog.

Anonymous said...

I happed to find your blog through a friend. My sister and I went to the same sale. Your words describe exactly how we felt! I love that you captured pictures because the ones we got did not do it justice. I will never do that again!

Jergs Family said...

I feel so famous being mentioned in this blog! But I did want to comiserate with you - I went to an Eddie Bauer warehouse sale at the same place in 1992. I was already in a bad mood, and going to experience that made it worse. Yes, that was 16 years ago and I have never, nor will I ever return to one of those. Sorry you had to experience it. I can't wait for their fall line either.

Kristi said...

I'm so glad I didn't go with you. The hour I spent in their store was enough for me. And that was just a regular day.

Saule Cogneur said...

Isn't it weird how we often feel most liberated when we don't do things rather than when we do do them?

I always feel liberated when I walk out of a store empty handed. More power to you, sister!

Ilene said...

I would have driven by the parking lot.

Your observation about the Twilight demographic is awesome. Of course I have read the books. I will admit it.

When your last conversation with the love of your life went something like this, "Ilene, Thomas dropped a load in his pants. It's your turn to change him," you tend to turn to fictional characters for some entertainment.

abel said...

At least all the ladies were somewhat civilized. When men line up for this kind of thing, fighting and death usually ensues.

To avoid the urge to beat on each
other, all men have made a secret pact never to go shopping.

Rania said...

I would have left the second I saw the line in the beginning. No discount is worth that wait. Yup see-ya later.

Janey said...

I hear ya- Ive been to one of those too! Id rather pay full price at Neman Marcus then go to one of those again!

acrspeech said...

Standing ovation to you Laura! It takes major guts to put down a $10 dress....I am extremely proud! I'm finally learning that sometimes the clearance rack/sale is just more trouble that it's worth. Time is money, as they say!

Jaime Richardson said...

You asked yourself, "what makes you think everyone has the same idea you have?" I know the answer for that. Because you're in Utah, and everyone has the same idea about EVERYTHING!!! Free food or sales, and you'll never have peace in Utah. You were very brave to go in. Costco is a much more pleasant experience in Colorado.