Notes on Boxing Day Shopping


I know I'm supposed to be on a break from blogging, but I'm on a post-Boxing Day adrenaline high after 10 hours of malling and the euphoria hasn't worn off yet. I got up bright and early today (well, not exactly "bright" since it was 7 in the morning and still dark out), and along with my brother, took the bus out to Coquitlam Centre. CC has the H&M, plus I figured it was far enough away from the really high-traffic Boxing Day attractions (Robson, Pacific Centre, or the largest mall in the province, Metrotown) to not be terrifyingly claustrophobic. We also wanted to go to CC early because my brother wanted to exchange the bootcut jeans I got him for a pair with a more classic cut.

Just some notes, tips, and observations...

Drink coffee and pace yourself. The caffeine kept me going from 9 in the morning until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon when I finally decided I needed a rest stop. There were also periods where I put myself on autopilot and just strolled around aimlessly rather than searching out the sales.

If you know before Boxing Day that you want to do an exchange, call ahead and ask. My brother tried on the jeans on the weekend and decided he didn't want them, so I called Buffalo the next day and asked whether they do exchanges on Boxing Day. Many stores won't accept refunds and exchanges because Boxing Day is one of the most hectic shopping days of the year. With clothes strewn everywhere, people demanding different sizes, and the cash registers ringing and ringing, many of the employees we saw didn't even have time for a real break; they ordered pizza or sushi into the store to scarf down. Luckily Buffalo was very lenient with Boxing Day exchanges, and my brother traded in the jeans I got him for two pairs he liked better and a sweater.

Set your alarm! After we hit Buffalo, my brother and I went out separate ways and browsed around the mall by ourselves. I was expecting my friend J to meet up with me around 10, and when 10 rolled around, I called her to see where she was, thinking she was circling around the parking lot trying desperately to find a spot. Imagine my surprise when she answered the phone sleepily: "Hello?...What time is it?...Ten? Really? Aiya!" Then she had car trouble, and then she really did have a hard time finding parking. By the time we met up it was 2pm and I was already loaded down with tons of stuff.

All the weirdos come out on Boxing Day... And how! When I met up with J in the food court and excitedly showed her my haul so far, a girl walked by and, I don't know what she was talking about with her friend, but I swear she looked right at me and said, "Gross!" Excuse me, did she just say my classic argyle sweater in white, pink, and orange was gross?!? I've since taken a poll of my friends, and the general consensus is a) the sweater is cute, b) she is weird, or c) both of the above.

The offending sweater (H&M):

...but you can also share some endearing moments with store employees and fellow shoppers. In Buffalo, my brother put down his jacket on top of some jeans as he pulled a sweater off a table to try on. I stood by watching his stuff, not really paying attention and just sipping my coffee, when a guy sidled up to the sweater table. I thought he was looking at the sweater when he reached for my brother's jacket and started looking for a price! I said with a sheepish tone and an embarassed laugh, "Oh, that's actually my brother's." He looked equally sheepish and said, "Oh sorry" as he put it back down...then reached for the jeans my brother had picked out.

Short-sleeve sweater (Buffalo), black tee (Smart Set), black patent belt (Xcetera...the best bargain of the day at $7.50!):

That wasn't the only time an item belonging to us was mistaken for store merchandise. In Mantique, I tried on a black graphic tee while still wearing my jeans (the Sweetheart bootcut pair from Old Navy I got in September). Mantique sells some pretty expensive jeans, so I was oddly pleased when a beaming sales girl came up to me and said, "That tee looks great on you! And those jeans fit really well." She took a closer look at the pockets to see which pair they were, and her smile faltered as she said, confused, "Oh, they're not from this store!"

Tee (Mantique), with jean jacket (Smart Set...great find at $20):

My best customer service experience probably occurred at Aritzia though, and that was mostly due to Maria. I have to confess I've never actually bought anything from Aritzia. While they have some nice things, I find a lot of their stuff to be overpriced and self-consciously hip and trendy. Anyway, J and I went in with the mission objective of finding premium denim jeans after hearing rave reviews about Rock & Republics. We each picked up several pairs of jeans and hit the change rooms in side-by-side stalls. We'd try on a pair, step out, assess and check out our butts in the mirror, and when we worked our way through the jeans we'd swap and repeat (we're the same size apparently). The sales girls in the back answered our questions about how much R&R's stretch out ("quite a bit"), and we went back on the floor to find the pairs we really liked in a smaller size.

While on the floor, a sales girl named Maria walked up to us, asked what we needed, and picked up R&R's in our sizes from all around the store. She was so warm and funny and friendly as she sent us to the back loaded down with new pairs of jeans to try on. She disappeared and then came back; I overheard her tell another sales girl she was "checking up on these two Asian girls shopping for jeans" and "wanted to see how they'd fit." I tried on a pair that fit perfectly, but Maria was skeptical and thought I might be able to go down another size. She returned with a smaller pair.

As soon as I pulled them on I knew they wouldn't zip up. Maria stuck her hand past the curtain and knocked on the stall wall.

"How are you doing?" she said.

"These are way too small. I can't zip them up," I said, struggling with the zipper.

"Just try, c'mon. Are you decent?" She peeked in. "C'mon you can do it!"

I sucked it in and zipped up, then gasped, "Ohmigod, I think I just dislocated a kidney!"

Maria cracked up as J and I stepped out.

The Rock and Republic jeans I finally went with because they gave me traffic-stopping booty according to general consensus among J, Maria, myself, and all the sales girls hanging out in the changing room area (Aritzia):

Some of the sales aren't actually that great. I can see how a place like Aritzia would be worth the lineup, but Guess, Off The Wall, and Sterling had people lining up even before they opened...and once we made it past those doors we were sorely disappointed. You'd never be able to tell that the sales weren't all that great from the piranha-like feeding frenzy happening inside. In reality, the 25% off sale at Guess meant that the $120 top I was eyeing was still not worth my while. The "25% off everything in store" sale at Off the Wall didn't make me like any of their clothes any better. The "buy one, get one 40% off" sale at Sterling was nothing new; it'd been going on pretty much all of December, and if you'd gone earlier there would've been better selection and less likelihood of a claustrophobia attack to boot.

Some people need to relax and remember that shopping is supposed to be fun. As a true shopaholic, I personally find shopping to be a relaxing and pleasurable activity. Most of the time when I'm shopping I'm in a happy mood and I certainly was today. However, I think some people lose sight of this in the mayhem. For example, I encountered a girl in Urban Behavior who needs to take a serious chill pill. Fitting rooms being closed, I pulled the top I was interested in over my tank top. J said it was cute but I wanted to see it in the mirror to make sure. The closest mirror was occupied by this girl, who'd just finished trying on something and was pulling it off but wouldn't move out of the way. My usual experience with communal mirrors has been that the other girl sees right away I want to use the mirror, and she makes room for me, I thank her, and we share a commiserating smile. This girl, however, gave me attitude with a drawn-out "Excuuuse me!" Startled and irritated by her attitude, I shot back, "Hey, I'm not the one blocking the mirror here!" She walked off in a huff with her boyfriend.

Cardigan (Urban Behavior) and tee (Smart Set):

Finally, J and I have discovered the perfect Boxing Day shopping outfit. Boxing Day shopping outfits are tricky. You don't want to overdress for the cold outdoors because you end up getting overheated in a stuffy mall and carrying your jacket and scarf around. You also want to wear something that doesn't require tons of work to take off and put back on (shoelaces, buckles, buttons, multiple layers) because it takes you longer in changing rooms. On top of that, some stores (like Urban Behavior) close their changing rooms to decrease stress for an already overworked staff, so you might be stuck trying things on in the middle of the floor.

Our perfect Boxing Day shopping outfit consists of:

  • A short jacket: A short jacket keeps you warm outside as you walk from the mall to your car or the bus stop, but isn't too burdensome if you end up carrying it as you shop.

  • A lightweight cardigan: It keeps you warm but won't let you overheat.

  • A close-fitting cami: It lets you try on sweaters, tees, and dress tops without having to wait for a change room.

  • A flowy or A-line skirt: J and I were thinking about this one for a while before we came up with it. If you need to try on jeans, you can pull them on under the skirt and still remain covered, then flip it up to see how you look in the mirror. If you think you'll freeze, pair the skirt with knee-high socks or leg warmers.

  • A hairtie/headband/clip: to tame crazy flyaway hair from changing room chaos.

  • Comfortable slip-on shoes: I wore my Point Zero maryjanes with the velcro strap. Don't wear anything with buckles, laces,'ll only slow you down.

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