Thursday, April 10, 2008

But, Orange!

The Home Outfitters opposite my library is in the process of closing. Everything in the store is marked down 50-70% off prices that were already on sale. So, that is pretty cheap. I have gone a couple times on my breaks and have managed to buy a set of orange pillowcases, a set of lobster-shaped hors d'oeurves spreaders (which only cost $1.50 fortunately, because I am probably going to break off the knife parts and then glue the lobsters on to other things) and a set of orange curtains. Yeah. I get lucky when stores go out of business, because I get to buy all the orange goods at deep discounts. Anyway.

The thing about this store is this: yes. Things are cheap there. Yes, there are products to be had, especially if you like orange. But the behaviour of shoppers, and the atmosphere in general, are wayyyyy out of proportion to the coolness of the event. People are rummaging madly through shelves of curtain panels as if they're looking for the vaccine to some deadly disease. I saw an old woman buying a cart of seemingly endless Christmas decorations, presumably all for $1--so much glitter, plastic, and probably lead paint. There are staff in the store, ensconsed in towers made of empty boxes and giant ceramic vases with gold vines painted on them, trying to sort to keep up with the constant stream of customers moving everything around. There are items abandoned mid-aisle, jettisoned, as if the person who had planned to buy them was overwhelmed (by SAVINGS) and just freaked out. There are women pushing strollers full of clocks and plastic storage bins. Earlier in the week, the couple in front of me were buying a giant, bright pink cart containing the apparatus for making cotton candy. Today, the three people in front of me in line were buying a Christmas-themed welcome mat and something called "Coffee-to-go!" There was a couple in the other line, and although they were speaking an Asian language, I'm pretty sure this is what they were saying:

Woman: Look at this shiny red tealight holder in the shape of a star!
Husband: It is so ugly.
Woman: But it is only $1!
Husband: But if we buy it, it will then become ours.
Woman: Put it in the cart.

In other words, the general atmosphere of shopping mayhem somehow compels people to buy things that they would CLEARLY never otherwise buy.* It was surreal. And I felt like a moron for taking part in it, for buying into the crowds of people behaving irrationally=awesome sale mentality. Stupid capitalism--you always get me with your bargains!

*I don't think this description includes me, however. Orange linens and lobster-shaped hors d'oeurves spreaders are EXACTLY the kind of thing I would otherwise buy.

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