Saturday, November 3, 2007

Bargain heaven

Leisure Arts is based in Little Rock, and twice a year they have a huge warehouse sale. It was always a good opportunity to buy craft books and leaflets. But since they've started a line of scrapbook supplies, it has become a scrapper's orgy. I'd never made it out to the sale myself, but I'd heard the tales. So when Stacie sent the heads-up to the YaYa list that today was the day, I put a big X through this morning in my Daytimer.

The sale was from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Stacie and I met at a Starbuck's on Highway 10 at 7:30 to fortify ourselves. We hit the road at 8:00 straight up, arriving in the parking lot about 5 minutes later. We walked and walked and walked! Employees in orange t-shirts directed us through alleys and behind loading docks. And I realized that there were parking lots everywhere along the way, but they were all full. How many people were inside? Women must have been lined up to Kingdom Come since the wee hours.

We stopped in the foyer to sign up for the door-prize drawing, and then we were channeled through an employee break room and into the warehouse. As we passed, a smiling man handed us empty boxes to stow our finds. And then we were in the biggest shopping traffic jam I've ever seen. Boxes full of goods were lined up on huge tables, and the shoppers were snaking through in a fairly orderly fashion, up one row and down the next. Mostly, it was grab-and-toss shopping. Every once in a while, someone paused to consider her decision for a moment and caused gridlock, attracting the ire of hundreds.

At one side of the shopping area, LA had set up huge tables. One group were sorting tables, where you could stop to check exactly what you'd accumulated so far. Another group were holding tables, where you could drop a full box, have it numbered and receive a matching number, and pick up a fresh empty box to resume shopping.

We checked out amid the actual warehouse aisles, piled to the high ceiling with up-and-coming LA wares. I was so sweaty at this point, Stacie offered to hold my box long enough for me to take off my jacket. Then, as the wait grew longer, I became a "scooter," kind of like in the post office at Christmas time. I put my box on the floor and pushed it along with my foot from time to time.

I had a little attack of envy as we reached the check-out table. The woman ahead of me had found packets of little square alpha brads! I'd never even seen them. They were probably at the nexus of one of the traffic jams I jumped around. Likewise, when Stacie checked out behind me, I saw little reels of ribbon and ink stamp pads that looked delicious and that I'd never spotted inside.

It was okay, though. I had plenty of good stuff: 8 packs of beautiful 12x12 paper with 25 sheets each; 3 packs of 25 sheets of printed vellum; 7 6x12 sheets of floral stickers; 5 sets of metal ornaments, each with a biggo silver crown and 4 silver corners; some metallic stamping inks; and an 8x8 album with a beautiful cover with dimensional accents. Other things I can't think of right now, too. My bill: $31.50. And they printed the retail cost of each item next to the sale price. The value of my purchase: $195.00.

As we drove back to Starbuck's to pick up Stacie's car, I whined a little. I'd realized too late that I should have picked up a Southern Living cookbook for my mom for Christmas. And I should have grabbed a dozen albums at $3.00 each--great Christmas gifts for almost anyone. But then I would have had to wade back into the chaos. And, like I said, I got plenty of good stuff.

A sign was posted at the checkout that the next sale is April 26. I've already put a big X through that day on my Daytimer.

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