*yawn* I got up at 4.30am, people. To go to my favorite H&M store, crossing my fingers on the way there that there woulnd’t be too long a line.
As it turns out, there wasn’t a line at all: about 35 people were just standing messily in front of the doors, blocking the sidewalk and leaving not much room for late comers to line up behind them.
When I suggested that we stand more tidily and wrap around the corner, so that we could get the wristbands in the right sequence and avoid having Security make us move to let people through, I was told: “nice idea, but that’s not the culture here” – whatever that means.
The result was, of course, that when the staff came out to hand out the wristbands at 7am, we were told to line up single file, and all hell broke lose. People started coming from the back to the front on both sides, pushing the ones ahead of them together in the middle, and it no longer mattered that some of us had gotten up before dawn. Great. After 20 minutes stuck inside a crazy mob scene where none of us even had enough space to take a deep breath (let alone take photos, sorry), I got a wristband with my shopping time: 10-10.10am. I could see many people who had gotten there much later than me walk away with earlier times, but I kept my temper in check. Let karma kick their ass, I’m not risking my place in line
A little frustrated, I found the only Starbucks open at 7.30am and headed there for a refuel and a bathroom break. Then I returned to the store, figuring I could check out the clothes until it was my time to shop. Right. Once again, people were standing in front of the door. I swear, they are such dorks.
The scene wasn’t much better at the other H&M:
Not a big deal, because I wasn’t interested in the clothes anyway. Let someone else go through the push, shove and squash experience. I waited in the back and walked in calmly, but once again, it was a mess. People everywhere, climbing up both escalators and filling the.entire.second.floor.
I managed to secure a corner by the only window near the accessory area, which had been fenced off, with a security guard on every side, some of them looking a little scared (so they should be, this was only going to get crazier!) and most of the staff nicely lined up, wearing cute bright blue tees with silver lettering. The first 160 customers were all wearing armbands of 8 different colors, each with 10 minutes of time to shop, after which the staff had 5 minutes to restock the shelves and tidy up the space to get ready for the next group (see the first group here).
The cool thing: they had plenty of merchandise, so by the time my group (#5) was up, there was still lots to shop.
The uncool thing: unlike what I had read on the web, the rule was that each customer could buy one item per model and per size, so there were people buying the shoes in 3-4 sizes, many of them planning no doubt to put them on eBay. Some may have been buying for friends, but I’m pretty sure many were not.
I had a set budget, so I could only get one pair of shoes and one other item. I was going to get the belt but up close I didn’t love it: too many studs, too shiny. Too much sparkle, like the costume jewelry that I didn’t even consider buying or some of the pieces from the clothing collection. I bought the wide studded leather cuff instead – and of course, the shoes. I wish I could have gotten two pairs, but I’m happy I scored my faves in my size:
I also grabbed two items for a girl who had accosted me earlier and asked very nicely, and headed out. As I approached the fence, people started grabbing my arms and making requests. I said “I’m sorry, I’m already getting stuff for someone else” but they kept asking and grabbing. Little sleep, standing in the cold and being squished and pushed around for the past few hours started catching up with me and my head started spinning a little. I looked at the security guard and asked him to please let me out, hurried to the cashier to pay for my stuff and hightailed it out of there.
My first thought: Finally, air!!
My second: Score!!
My third: Next time I am totally showing up at least an hour earlier