Friday, June 17, 2011

Retail therapy

A number of businesses have been unable to operate as normal since February's quake, among them the iconic inner city department store Ballantynes. I have a certain fondness for the store, not because I'm a regular customer (my income does not match their price tags) but because I worked there when I was in my early twenties. I flitted through a few different departments during my time - Mailorder, Ladies Underfashions, Boys Schoolwear - and learnt a lot about the social fabric of C-city from both customers and workmates.

I also worked at a few of the famous Ballantyne's Sales and saw many well-heeled ladies drop their prim & proper facade long enough to elbow their way through to the sales tables. On one memorable occasion I was on the shop floor as the doors were opened for Day 1 of the first floor sale (Ladies Fashion, Underfashions, Accessories + Childrenswear) and my jaw dropped as this horde of normally respectable adult women surged towards their destination. The few that waited for the lift were swiftly overtaken by those who simply ran up the stairs, and woe betide anyone who got in their way. Just as you should not get between a mama grizzly and her cubs, never ever get between a Merivale matron and a Bally's sale table.

Our shopping options have been somewhat limited of late as many of the suburban malls & shops are out of action, and of course the CBD is off limits to all except demolition teams. Some shoppers have even travelled down to the Timaru branch of Ballantynes to get their fix (160km south of Chch). Finally though, it was time for the Bally's sale right here in C-city. Not at their central city premises of course, but at the CBS Arena which is one of the few large footprint venues currently operating.

Day 1 of the sale was supposed to be Tuesday, however Monday's series of aftershocks meant that the pack-in wasn't completed and the sale was delayed by a day. By Wednesday the pent-up frustrations of women all over the city had reached a peak and the keenest amongst them started queuing at 7am. As hubby had to go to the arena for a meeting, I thought I'd check out the sale. Hah! So did half of Christchurch it seemed.

Traffic was diabolical around the venue, with many cars stuck in queues waiting to exit the arena's parking area. It soon became apparent why so many were leaving - the queue of people waiting to get into the sale stretched out from the arena entrance and along the footpath...
I overheard one woman saying as she headed back to her car that the waiting time in the queue was around 1 1/2 hours, and that there was a queue of about 2 hours to get to the tills. As keen as I was on some designer bargains, I was not desperate enough to stand in a line for hours at either end of the process. Even while I waited for hubby to finish his meeting, the line continued to grow...
According to The Press the next day, this is what it looked like on the inside:

So, on Thursday I tried again. This time we rang ahead and asked one of hubby's workmates how long the wait was! The first time we rang (late morning), the queue was about the same as that pictured above, however by mid-afternoon the report was much more promising and we decided to head on in. However, even though I did manage to find a nice pair of work trou, I'm just a bit miffed.

Why? 'Cos we managed to spend over $200 on hubby and bugger all on me lol!! Oh well, it is a rather nice suit that he now has, and a nice casual blazer too but I do feel some balance is needed. I might just have to go back to the Bally's sale on Sunday to check out the final markdowns... it's been a tough week for this Shakeytown household for a number of reasons, and I need a bit more retail therapy to lift my spirits.

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