Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hot Flashes and Trigger Fingers

A typical Flash Sale Email alert.  You  get zero warning, so
it's like a little time bomb in your inbox.  These go out
to Department Store card holders who have shopped
recently online.
I was out to lunch with my friend Holly a few weeks ago and we were lamenting the Internet.  Well, she was lamenting it; I was agreeing with everything she said, making her feel like she wasn't so past her prime that learning all the ins and outs seemed futile, while simultaneously making myself appear concerned and responsible.  It's a give and take relationship built on lies and half truths, without the hassle of community property or conjugal visitation.

As Holly is one of my long time shopping comrades, the conversations took a hard left and went to Internet shopping, one of my favorite vices (especially when it's an online sale).  I really do think it's the 8th deadly sin.  I'm one to send people web links of things they need (well, what I think they need) whenever I am online perusing websites, and Holly is always at the top of my list.  Much to her chagrin, her inbox is always host to a number of my emails imploring her to make a judgement call she doesn't want to make when confronted with a beautiful necklace from Saks (it's on sale!  charity starts at home!  screw the kids!) or some clearance shoes at J. Crew (saying no at this price would be irresponsible!  Jesus hates cheap people!). 

I brought up the new 'innovation' known as the 'flash sale'.  She thought it was something you physically attended, like a sample sale in the middle of the desert, or a paternity hearing.  I enlightened her by saying it was all online, and she didn't have to put her good face on or slip her husband a mickey to get a piece of the action. 

One Kings Lane is known for their Tastemaker Tag Sales.
In essence, known designers from across the US have a
classy Garage Sale online through the website.  It's their
opportunity to clear out the closet of excess accessories
and furniture, and your opportunity to buy it at a discounted
price.  Warning : 'Discount' is not the same as 'Cheap'.
There are two kinds of flash sales.  One is put on by Brick and Mortar retailers with namesake websites such as Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue; they shoot you an email early in the morning and the sale is over in a few hours.  Neiman's calls their sale the 'Mid-day Dash', Saks calls it 'The Fashion Fix', same story, different title.  The other type of Flash Sale is put on by websites solely devoted to selling selected designer wares at discounted prices for limited amounts of time, usually a week or until the limited supply runs out.  I like Gilt Groupe and One Kings Lane, in case you're interested.

In both cases, the enforced time limit (which goes so far as to allow you only 10 minutes to hold something in your shopping bag), the dramatically reduced prices ($99.00 for a pair of A. Testoni shoes that sell for over $300.00 at Saks), and the limited quantities all combine to elicit the sort of heart pumping adrenal overload usually reserved for the more conventional carnal pleasures like fight clubs or human trafficking.  Happiness is just a few clicks away.

Gilt Group has an app for your smart phone, iPad, you name it.
So when you cause a 7 car pile up on the 405, at least it won't
be due to texting or talking on your phone!

Holly, whom I had just tutored on the ins and outs of Facebook, opted to stick to what she knew best; buying in person.  She's not one for mystery or surprises.  There is a certain satisfaction in finding your prize in the flesh, feeling the quality, assuring the perfect fit, and then sneaking it home in the back of the car.  Maybe you stuff it in your gym bag, or in with your Trader Joe's groceries.  Deceit makes the fruits of your labor taste all the sweeter, in my opinion.  For those of us who enjoy a deal and a good game of Russian Roulette, the Flash Sale is a magical invention pregnant with potential.  Let Holly play it safe; it leaves more for the rest of us.  J'adore a good deal.

- Ian

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