Wall Street may have turned into one big fire sale, but that is apparently not enough to dampen the perennial feverish enthusiasm for a sample sale, even one where bargains are defined as a $900 pair of boots or a $280 leather-bound hunting horn the size of a comb.
It’s not that the women in line were unaware of the scent of financial disaster hovering in the air. To the contrary, more than one was waiting there to get away from it.
“I just needed a break,” said a banker who waited, on crutches no less, for well over an hour on Tuesday. “You know it’s not going to be a good year for anyone. But some things are recession-proof, and this sale is one of them. Even if I don’t find anything, I still spend a thousand. It’s like Costco.”
That shopper would not give her name or say where she worked, since she probably should have been at the office, under the circumstances. “Let’s just say my bank’s still around,” she demurred. “That narrows it down to about four.”
Nice to know that panic isn't running too rampant! Then there's this attitude:
“Even if the economy’s down, a sale is all the more reason to buy something nice,” said a young woman in a dark, sharply tailored suit. Like the banker ahead of her, she declined to give her name, on the grounds that she was supposed to be at the office — in her case, helping to prepare Securities and Exchange Commission filings to comply with new hedge-fund regulations.
She folded her Wall Street Journal under one arm. “Buy something nice, it makes you look good. If you look good, you feel good. If you pay full price and things are unstable at your job, it takes away the enjoyment.”
There is always that other option. “Not to buy?” she asked. She shook her head. “That wouldn’t work.” No one seemed to be considering the possibility that a few months from now she might not have a job to dress up for. Then again, there’s no more pressing time to buy a high-prestige morale boost than when you might be dressing for job interviews.
Perhaps it's this kind of attitude amongst the nation's bankers that got us into this mess in the first place. But that doesn't mean we can't also glean some investment tips from this article:
“I used to buy Sirius stock to keep myself from buying more Hermès scarves,” said Jan Goode, who was wearing a coral one and carrying a tote she had had made to showcase another one. Ms. Goode, who is in her 50s, considers herself a serious collector of Hermès scarves, stopping just short of considering herself someone with a serious problem.
“Now my Hermès holdings are much more valuable than my Sirius stock,” she said. “Sirius is at 90 cents a share. I should have been buying scarves all along.”
...When the prices of vintage Hermès scarves go down on eBay — then we’ll really know we’re in trouble.
And lest you think there is no sense of financial discipline and moderation driving these shoppers, check this out:
“I’ll only buy if it’s something I really need,” resolved the woman from Long Island, as if she might enter the sale to find, alongside $2,000 jackets, $300 change purses and $200 toddler robes, essentials like light bulbs, toilet paper or toothpaste.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.