Friday, September 11, 2009
Warehouse of Horrors
So I meant to post this last week. I wrote it for the Vice Blog but we didn't have time to post it before the sale ended (for some reason people don't work on Labor Day...weird.) I thought all was lost in the holiday time crunch until I remembered, oh yeah, wait, I have my own blog that I neglect and I can post things on it...doy.
I recently bad-mouthed the Barneys Warehouse sale. Well time to come clean, I caved and I went. It was every bit as terrifying as I remembered although I managed to go late enough so I missed the line which sometimes wraps around the block. Waiting in line to spend money...not my idea of a good time. Upon entering through security I saw my sanctuary shining right in front of me. The shoes.
The shoes at the warehouse sale are the best bargain and the items least likely to be totally ravaged by the horders. I've got big fucking feet, years of retail, including two plus at the main Barneys New York location, has expanded them to between a size 10 or 10 1/2. Thankfully not a lot of other women do and the few in need of clodhoppers aren't into giant platform insanity that makes their already big feet look monstrous. I don't mind it, I think they balance out my hips, but maybe that's just one of those things I tell myself to feel okay about something I can't change.
After navigating the shelves of shoes you grab a single you like and wait in line with a bunch of impatient women until a stock person emerges from a gigantic stockroom, takes your shoe, and hopefully returns with it's mate in a box. One year I found my dream shoes only to have the stock girl tell me the mate was MIA forever. Bummercity. A tense middle-aged woman dressed in all-black with what looked like meth scratches on her face kept pacing behind me asking every stock girl who came out if they had her shoes, accusing every non-white female of being the person who helped her although none of them had. Thankfully they found the mates to my potential scores trauma-free and of course my broke-ass being there in the name of research (I swear!) fell in love with a pair.
This was my first warehouse sale as a non-employee having avoided it for the past few seasons. The Warehouse Sale is kind of a crock, at least for the first couple of weeks. Nothing is cheaper in the warehouse than it is during the final markdown period in the stores. The same goes for Century 21 by the way. In fact at times items in that discount department store sell for more than the final markdown price the retailers unloading their goods sell them for in their own shops. And during sale time at Barneys there is at least a modicum of order. There is no reason to descend into the chaos which is a million times worse than any sample sale I've ever been too. Not that it's the staff's fault, controlling the masses of women who clutch desperately onto their Balenciaga sweaters marked down to $394 from $1200 is pretty much impossible. Clothing litters the floor, the jeans table is one giant knot of denim and keeping the shoe selection properly divided by size is literally a full-time job.
The concept of "cheap" is of course relative. As is the idea of a "deal." In fashion this becomes even more skewed when one takes into consideration the justifications for pricing: quality, rarity, status, concept, etc. Still, there is a bottom line for most everyone when it comes to purchasing things and even if the whopping $1290 pricetag on a pair of handwoven Bottega Veneta printed leather platform sandals can be justified in the painstaking crafting it still doesn't make me any more apt to spend two months rent on them. Comparatively, their final in-store markdown of $354 may seem like a bargain but that still doesn't make me able to afford them. However, this is where the Warehouse Sale has it's merit. As the days count down towards the end of the sale the prices drop. First a sign is posted by the shoe section that says "50% off marked down price" then the "50% is crossed out and replaced with a "60%", then in the final days the "60%" turns into a magical "75%" and there you are, at the finish line. Barneys will not sell you goods any cheaper than what is essentially 75% off of 75% off of retail. The clothing is quicker to be marked down going straight from 50% off to 75%. Seem too much of a hassle to negotiate? I don't blame you. But there are dedicated fans of the stalk and shop. Men and women who covet an item, visit it, watch it as the markdowns progress, waiting for the last possible moment to purchase it. Some cave before the warehouse sale. Some cave during the first round of markdowns. It's all a game of chance. The longer you wait the greater the possibility that someone else will swoop up and pick up the item. Barneys relies on this shopper paranoia during the first week of the sale.
The paranoia essentially worked on me. I visited the sale on Friday when the shoes were still at 60% off. I found the aforementioned Bottega Veneta printed leather platform sandals. I did the math, 60% off of $354 was just barely within range of what I could pay but more than I should. But they were calling to me and I couldn't resist. So beautiful, so tall, I imagined them with tights in the fall, with shorts next summer, told myself even though they were floral printed it wasn't "too floral". Convinced myself the style looked vintage enough not to be out of style ever. Fuck it, I knew I was getting them as soon as I found them.
I tried to shop the rest of the sale and quickly got discouraged. Everything I wanted was still $600. Fuck that. And yes, I could have bought a pair of jeans for $40 but did I really need them? Somehow they didn't seem as special next to a rack of tattered Vionnet silk gowns. Hell I almost bought a silver metallic knit Dries Van Noten skirt that looked terrible on me just because it was gonna cost me less than $100. In such an atmosphere it is difficult to judge anything on it's own merits. Everything is relative and suddenly it seems okay to spend $80 on a Stella McCartney t-shirt because you know it's the only thing from the line you'll be able to afford.
Thankfully common sense won over my desire to own designer goods. I got in the treacherously long line and waited for twenty minutes before I was rung up. The cashier mistakenly took 75% off the shoes instead of 60% and suddenly I was out of there having paid $108 for a pair of platforms that originally retailed at $1290.
The shoes I scored were the Bottega Veneta fisherman's sandal. I wore them tonight actually. Sean and I went to some art openings and then Morimoto. We got out of dinner just as it started to rain, about 10:45. We were in the Meatpacking District right when Fashion's Night Out ended. Getting a cab was a fucking nightmare but the shoes looked amazing with my olive tights and plum jacket. Hurrah!
Also, this sale ended up costing me an extra $100 since someone swiped my meds from my purse. Yeah, I know, not my wallet but a bottle of a very non-recreational anti-anxiety medication and another bottle that contained 1/2 of a klonopin...not a very recreational dosage. Fuckers!