the Insiders


December 16, 2008 10:51 AM

Fashion, Retail

It's Not an Age, It's An Attitude

Eager shoppers at the Marc Jacobs sale. PHOTO BY JIMI CELESTE When I was a kid, I believed there were inalienable marks of adulthood: getting up early because you wanted to; liking coffee and arcane vegetables. Similarly, I now...

Eager shoppers at the Marc Jacobs sale. PHOTO BY JIMI CELESTE

When I was a kid, I believed there were inalienable marks of adulthood: getting up early because you wanted to; liking coffee and arcane vegetables. Similarly, I now maintain certain indicators suggest, more than mere adulthood, that you are, quite simply, old. An abbreviated list: getting a flu shot (to date, I have steadfastly refused); voting one's wallet; uttering to a child, "When I was your age..." followed by a statement either hyperbolic, à la the proverbial "...I walked six miles to school in the snow," or merely ridiculous "...there was no Crest for Kids. We brushed with regular toothpaste and were glad to have it."

Luckily, some instances of the genre can be avoided, which I recommend highly. This weekend, however, I landed plop in the middle of one. When I first heard of Saturday's scheduled one-day megasale at Marc Jacobs on Mercer Street -- bags from $50 to $300, shoes 90 percent off -- I didn't give it a second thought. Once upon a time, the promise of a deal, whether at retail or a sample sale, would have had me first in line. I could push, shove and grab, politely enough, with the best of them. Now, thank you, I'll pass.

See a slideshow of images here>>

Then a couple of things happened. I mentioned the sale to my Scarsdale sister-in-law, whom I adore and who was interested in size-10 shoes. Then, on Saturday, someone called me and said the goods were amazing.

Square route: I went. But not before phoning my salesperson Gaby Klapper to ask if it were worth the trip. Love her, but she's in sales. (In September, Page Six Magazine cited her as one of the most powerful sales associates in New York.) "It's terrific, but come to the front," she suggested. The front? Turns out, the line was a block long. Cutting it proved the first of two I'm-going-to-hell experiences of the weekend. (The second: I loved the "SNL" Gov. Paterson shtick.)

I walked into a full-house frenzy of fashion girls, and some boys, all very much my junior, who ferreted furiously through the piles of bags, heavy on bubblegum pink Sofias and frog-closure nylon pouches that had been shipped in from somewhere just for the day and bore the safe-fashion aura of duty free. The determined shoppers squeezed in and elbowed, grabbing goods in multiples as if they, or at least mom and dad, were blissfully untouched by any of this silly economic talk. One girl, apparently a tough sell, insisted to a friend in a bossy Reese Witherspoon-in-"Election" voice that if she couldn't find a sale bag to suit her, "I'm going to have to buy this," "this" being a full-price resort bag. I bumped into Robert Rich, Jacobs' vice president of retail p.r. He said the sale was his idea and that Robert Duffy, who hadn't wanted to do it, agreed only reluctantly. "We haven't done one of these in years," Rich offered. "I thought, It's the perfect time to do it in this recession. I wanted to make people happy." 

Clearly, happiness is in the eye of the beholder.

The special sale merch not for me, I perused the good stuff. But send Gaby in search of sizes on fall's 70-off in this mayhem (and more to the point, wait for her to resurface with it)? And while resort's full-price gold heart tote beckoned, I'm waging my own little protest against absurd deliveries.

That left the shoes. Boxes in piles three and four high covered the section of floor not given over to the bags. Surely when the store opened at 11:00 a.m. these had been stacked according to size and/or style. Now, however, arrangement was more organic, requiring fortitude, athleticism and lots of squinting to divine style and size. Still, I thought of my kind-hearted, big-footed sister-in-law. Many deep knee bends later (Jorge Posada, I feel your pain), and I had scored two pairs of pretty suede sandals.

By then I'd had it. The whole process proved too hot (no place to dump the coat), too cumbersome (nor the bags from the day's earlier shopping) and too exasperating (young lady, please, that was my foot) to even think of searching for my size, much less of pulling off my boots to try a pair on. 

So much so, that while I knew I should have switched into reporter's mode and started interviewing the multitudes about such recession-era buying madness, I instead cut the checkout line as discreetly as possible to pay for the size 10s. There, I shook my head solemnly with the sad realization, voiced to Gaby, "I'm just too old for this."

Next winter, a flu shot? Please, God, no.

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