I suppose I could try and blame it all on Michele. After all, there I was, innocently sharing lunch with her at my favourite Vietnamese restaurant near work (Boi, when the words, “It’s Barney’s Warehouse sale tomorrow,” popped out of her mouth…

The bi-annual sale of Barney’s, one of New York’s upscale fashion institutions, has been one of those experiences I’ve wanted to have, but I somehow hadn’t been orgamized or courageous enough to face the mythical onslaught of that equally notorious creature: the female Barney’s Warehouse sale shopper.

I think that tales of catfights over sale items originated here, along with any other sale urban legend you might have heard. So needless to say, when ever-elegant Michele mentioned this two thoughts sped through my mind in quick succession. ‘I should really get it together to do that someday’ and ‘Next time.’

Perhaps it was a sign that when I collected this week’s issue of TimeOut magazine, which lists hundreds of events happening each week from entertainment to, yes, sales, the issue flopped open on to the full-page colour advertisement announcing the sale. But still, there was no way I was prepared to trundle down to Chelsea after work to do battle with other work-weary and aggressive shoppers.

So it’s probably not surprising that this afternoon, when many months of hardwork came to a successful conclusion and I was rewarded with a premature end to my day at 4pm, that the gleeful idea of heading directly to W17th and Seventh Avenue (the location of Barney’s Co-Op store) surfaced.

It was definitely an experience! Especially for someone like me who falls into the ‘irregular shopper’ category.

Eager Barney’s bargain hunters had to enter through an unmarked door at the rear of their building, and then funnel through to huge rooms dedicated to specific clothes (mens, womens, kids). Clothing racks bursting at the seams filled every inch and remarkably focused people buzzed along the racks and bins dedicated to their size.

With designer sizing being somewhat erratic, and the ‘no return’ sale policy, trying on items is an absolute necessity. That’s fine and well for anything you would normally wear over your clothes — jackets, jerseys, shoes and accessories. But what about top, skirts, pants and dresses?

“Change room,” I hear you suggest? Hah, it is at this moment that the sale experience hits home. If you want to try it on, you have to a) be good at identifying any spot in the room where you have the space to do so and where you will not be mown down by your fellow shoppers frantically perusing the merchandise b) devise some way of defending the items you are interested in buying from aforementioned perusing shoppers and c) secure both your handbag and the clothes that you have removed for the purposes of trying on an item, lest someone take a liking to either. (I take it as a great compliment that two people tried to grab my $20 white jacket)

Oh yes, and that modesty thing, park it at the door. For here is the place where you whip off your clothes, expose your underwear and try on clothes in full view of a vast number of strange men and women.

I’m happy to report not only did I survive, but with a few, well considered purchases, I feel like I triumphed a little too. And yes, now I can tick off the Barney’s sale experience — Sex in the City’s Carrie would be proud.



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