Friday, October 9, 2009

Retail Stalking

Today I went to the Ibex Clothing tent sale. Ibex is a local company that makes outdoor wool clothing. Every Columbus Day weekend, they gather up all their overstocks, imperfects and samples and offer everything at huge discounts of 50% off or better. Tent sale is a polite way of saying a retail feeding frenzy. Think Filene's Basement wedding dress sale but trade the young brides-to-be for middle-aged, middle-class people that like classic comfortable clothing.

The sale started at 7am. I arrived at 8:30, and they were already scrambling to locate more space for parking in the field. Shoppers either brought large bags or grabbed empty cardboard boxes and picked up anything and everything they might consider buying. Once all potential purchases were obtained, everyone retreated to the relative quiet outside the tent to sort and make final decisions, or crowd into the communal dressing tent (one for men and one for women). The best place for shopping was the table outside the dressing tent where all the cast-offs were put.

About half-way through my second sweep through the tent, I saw a spring green, half zip pullover that had a pretty pattern and texture to it. Most of their clothing is solid color and texture-free, so I got pretty excited about it, but it was a small and it was the only one I could find. While I was in the dressing room, I was next to a couple of women who were friends and one of them was trying on the top I loved, but she had a medium. Her friend was telling her how good it looked on her, but she was sounding lukewarm at best and complaining about the neck. She did hold on to it though.

I happened to be leaving the dressing tent at the same time they were, so I decided to follow her a bit as they continued shopping the tent. I was hoping she found something she liked better. She tried on a jacket and a vest, and I lost her in the crowd briefly. My frantic searching made realize that I was now mildly obsessed. I found her outside the tent with a big bag of items she'd selected. I stayed just inside the tent pretending to look at a rack of jackets. Nothing happened at first; the friends stood there and talked. Finally she started looking through her bag. She got to the green shirt and held it up to herself, refolded it and put it back on the pile. She stood a few more minutes doing nothing. What was she waiting for?! After what seemed like an eternity, she went back to sorting, but was maddeningly slow about it. She rejected a couple of things by folding and stacking them a couple of feet from her bag. Another woman (I don't know know if they knew each other) came up and asked her if she was discarding them. She said she was, and the woman looked at them. Now I knew if it was rejected, I'd have to act fast.

About 30 minutes had passed since I first started following her and she picked up the green top for the third time, held it up, looked at it, folded it, and PUT IT IN THE DISCARD PILE. I didn't waste any time; I walked over and asked if she was not keeping those items. "Go for it," she said. I grabbed the shirt and practically ran away with it, I was so excited. I'd show you a photo of my prize, but I'm to tired to get the camera, pose and upload the photo. Stalking takes a lot of energy. If you're in the area this weekend, the sale continues Saturday and Sunday on the green in Quechee, Vermont.

The moral to this story: If you really want something, it's probably worth waiting for (at least 30 minutes).


Anonymous said...

What a great account! Reminds me of our days at the EMS tent sale over in Peterborough, NH. We'd just grab and pile stuff on ourselves until we had a chance to sort. I used to get $180.00 hiking boots for $20.00. It was totally worth the wacky experience! Congrats on your score.... I'll bet it looks great!

Tammie said...

ha ha ha. this is too funny betts.

Liz said...

Sounds like a great sale! Makes me wonder what they do with the leftovers they don't sell.

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