Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Brave and Crazy

That's what you have to be to go to Bloomingdale's on a Saturday afternoon for their "One Day Home Sale." This past Saturday morning, I was having my coffee and reading the paper and saw the ads. I was intrigued by all the "up to 80% off"s in the ad and thinking about how sheets and towels are on my list of things to buy. Since I was planning to go into Manhattan anyway to go to the gym, I decided to give the sale a try.
By the time I got there, it was almost 5pm. That was probably a stupid thing to do-- whenever there's a big limited time sale, you can pretty much guess that everything will be really picked over by 5pm. But I wondered if my timing might be good in some ways, like that everyone else might be taking a break for dinner before coming back to shop until the store closed at 10pm.
No such luck. I took the escalator up to the 7th floor, and though the floors I passed on the way didn't seem overly crowded, the home and bed and bath floors above were a zoo scene. Almost literally, actually: I saw several people with dogs. How crazy is that? Really, if you are going to dive into the maelstrom of a Bloomingdale's sale please leave your dog at home!
I rarely go to department stores in NYC. When I do, it's most often Lord & Taylor, or maybe Macy's. But I hadn't set foot in Bloomingdale's for years. And maybe it was just today, but somehow I got the impression that perhaps because of its proximity to the Upper East Side, Bloomingdale's seems to attract a high proportion of neurotic people with a great sense of self-entitlement.
One lady kept interrupting a sales person who was helping someone else, asking "can you help me? Is there anyone who can help me?" Later I saw her again standing at a register with a big line of people behind her, again asking "isn't there a manager, any manager or vice president who can help me? I want to speak to someone..." This kind of atmosphere is why I hate shopping at sales... they're crowded, hot, and half the people milling around just act crazy. And often the merchandise isn't worth it.
I made the rounds of the bedding, and soon realized that almost everything on the shelf was twin, queen and king size sheets-- in this city where most people have such small bedrooms, you'd think they'd stock more full size! I finally laid hands on a matching full size flat sheet and fitted sheet. But there were no matching pillowcases. Then, miraculously, a nice older saleslady suddenly had a free moment-- she'd been helping a bearded guy in a motorcycle jacket, but he ran off having suddenly realized that his bag had been stolen, so she asked if she could help me. Often in that kind of situation, I tend to assume that what's on the shelves is all that's left and I don't bother to ask for help, but this time, I told her what I wanted, she went into the stockroom and came right back with the pillowcases. Then she rang me right up-- somehow, I didn't have to wait at all, while people across the floor were lined up 10 deep. She offered me a Bloomingdale's charge card for extra 15% discount, and I decided to take it, figuring hey, why not? Meanwhile, another customer was hovering like a vulture, wanting to know what size my sheets were and where I had found them. Then the bearded buy came back, having found his bag but still rather overwrought and seeming to think he could just pick up where he left off with our saleslady. But Anna, bless her, just said she was glad he'd found his bag and that she'd be right with him after she was done with me. I just loved her-- she was so nice and calm, while all the other employees there were going nuts and complaining that no part-timers had showed up that day.
Once I escaped from the bed and bath department, I wanted to really take advantage of my extra 15% discount for opening the charge card, but as fate would have it, I started to lose steam. I was lugging too much stuff, wearing too-warm clothes, and starting to get hungry. But I still stopped at the Calvin Klein department (just the mid-range line, not the super-pricey stuff) and tried a bunch of things on. I always tend to like his style, and after buying my last suit, which fit like a dream, I sort of had this idea that henceforth I could just go to the Calvin Klein section whenever I needed clothes and I'd find something perfect. I'm not a very creative shopper-- I just like to find things that work for me and then buy them over and over! But alas, this time I struck out, no doubt a perverse consequence of having that 15% discount card burning a hole in my pocket! (Guess it came between me and my Calvins.)
So I called it a day and went home. You win a few, you lose a few... and you spend a few dollars along the way.
[Updated] As the first commenter pointed out, I was so caught up in my crazy shopping experience that I totally forgot to tell you how much I actually spent! I ended up spending about $80 total. They are nice sheets, and would have cost close to $150 at their original full price. So I didn't get any of those exciting 80% discounts, and I probably could have gotten perfectly fine sheets elsewhere for less. But then I would have missed out on this quintessential New York experience-- the post would have been much more boring if I'd just ordered my sheets from Amazon!


Anonymous said...

I seem to have all of those same people in the dept. stores in my city!

So what did you end up paying for the sheets?

Nancy said...

I LOVE that story! Totally vivid - I can imagine it all. I visited NYC one glorious christmastime in my early 20s. As a Canadian who grew up in the far north, it was magical and entirely whelming. One hilarious memory I have is from Bloomingdales (and you have to appreciate I was dancing with joy just to be at Bloomingdales!). There were some gorgeous sweatshirts nicely stacked. I tried, in vain, to successfully find my size without destroying the stack. The Entire Freaking Stack tumbled down and the sales help, a young guy mysteriously very absent until that second, rushed over. Not to help. To tear a strip off me! As a typically polite Canadian, from a particularly reserved family, I was at a bemused loss on how to respond. "New York," I said, shrugging to myself. One more crazy story in a week full of them.

Alyssa said...

That is a excellent story.

However, ever savvy shopper knows you don't order your sheets from Amazon. You get them from Overstock.com or Smartbargains.com.

Don't freak out too much on what you spend to furnish your house the first year. It slows down to a trickle afterward and you're feathering your nest. I think it's a right of passage.