Monday, December 24, 2007

Overnight Sensations

I don't think I have ever awakened in the middle of the night wishing I could go to Macys. (I'm lucky if I make it to the bathroom.) However, that has been an option for New Yorkers this weekend.
It was at a slightly more reasonable hour (shortly after 2 a.m.) that a Brooklyn man in a Jets T-shirt, Luis Negron, 40, strolled through the first-floor men’s department at Macy’s Herald Square on Saturday. The store was in the middle of an 83-hour holiday shopping marathon, opening its doors Friday at 7 a.m. and keeping them open until Monday at 6 p.m., the first time that Macy’s 105-year-old flagship store on West 34th Street has been open around the clock.

I suspect Macys might be having slower sales this year, and this gimmick is more about trying to squeeze the last bit of juice from their lemons rather than offering real convenience to people who work odd hours and shop odd hours.
Mr. Negron and other shoppers, many of whom said they worked night shifts, seemed appreciative, even downright grateful, that one of the city’s busiest stores was reaching out to their often-overlooked demographic: night-owl procrastinators. They disputed the old saw about the city that never sleeps.

“You can’t go shopping,” Mr. Negron said of New York’s usual nighttime options. “Sometimes when you get out of work there is nothing open. Do you know how many times I’ve bought my wife birthday presents at Walgreens or Eckerd? It’s embarrassing. It’s either that or go to the Village, and what am I going to get, a bong?”

Hey, what's wrong with a bong? Be sure to load it up though. Otherwise it's like getting the latest electronic gadget but forgetting to include the batteries. And we all remember how much fun that was on Christmas morning.
“That’s a really classic watch,” a clerk told a woman trying on a watch at 2:43 a.m. A few minutes later, another woman, clutching two shopping bags, talked on her cellphone while stepping onto one of the store’s old wooden escalators. “It’s the city,” said another shopper with a shrug, as she stood at a bank of cash registers on the seventh floor. “Everybody’s up this late.” Everybody, that is, except for the boy who slept soundly in the stroller she was pushing.

Crazy. And who the hell was the woman talking to on her cellphone at 3:00 a.m.?

Needless to say, you can't be open all night without having the de rigueur "B.W.I." episode.
At this hour, there were instances of what might be called B.W.I., or buying while intoxicated. One man with an unlighted cigarette in his mouth had trouble standing while trying to purchase some items at a designer handbag counter. He leaned on his two female friends for support. After the cashier rang up the items, he was told the amount: $884.

“Why?” he muttered. His mood seemed to sour, and he and his friends mumbled to one another and left without buying the handbags.

What I find most amusing this holiday season is the trend of "reverse shoplifting," or "shopdropping." I'm about to do some of that by taking a load to Goodwill, but shopdropping is a bit different in that the stores are unknowing recipients of merchandise. Pretty funny stuff.
Otherwise known as reverse shoplifting, shopdropping involves surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out, and the motivations vary.

Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

I can only imagine how many gays and lesbians are going to experience a conversion as a result of this practice. "Oh my goodness! I can't buy this book now; I'll go to hell!"

But I seriously would like to get my hands on one of these anarchist action figures; it would be a nice complement to my Anarchist Cookbook.
But Packard Jennings does. An artist who lives in Oakland, Calif., he said that for the last seven months he had been working on a new batch of his Anarchist action figure that he began shopdropping this week at Target and Wal-Mart stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“When better than Christmas to make a point about hyper-consumerism?” asked Mr. Jennings, 37, whose action figure comes with tiny accessories including a gas mask, bolt cutter, and two Molotov cocktails, and looks convincingly like any other doll on most toy-store shelves. Putting it in stores and filming people as they try to buy it as they interact with store clerks, Mr. Jennings said he hoped to show that even radical ideology gets commercialized. He said for safety reasons he retrieves the figures before customers take them home.

What if I found one in a store and stole it, if it didn't belong to the store in the first place? Would that make me a shoplifter? Not by my definition.

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