I loathe shopping with a flaming, burning passion that feels somewhat like gonorrhea. (Not that I’d know, of course! Ha ha!) On the scale of activities I do not like, it ranks somewhere below cooking (to a normal person, this would be the equivalent of shoving sharp implements in various orifices for a whole week) and somewhere above being around babies (about the equivalent of being sealed up in the snake pit from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, only with hungry tarantulas thrown in for good measure). I shake my head in wonder at the people who camp out for Black Friday sales and make a rush for the mall on Christmas Eve. What the hell are they thinking?
I have no choice now but to bite my tongue on that issue. “Remind me of this when Black Friday rolls around,” I told my boyfriend as we lined up outside Colorado Ski & Golf twenty minutes before it opened its doors this morning, our special VIP invites, complete with $10 off coupon on purchases of $50 or more, flapping from our hands.
The guy in front of us turned around. “Yeah, but we’re lining up fifteen minutes early,” he pointed out. “It’s not like we camped out overnight.”
“True,” I conceded, although the fact that I’d gotten up about four hours earlier than I normally would so that I could beat the rest of Denver for a good deal on worthy ski boots indicated that I was not in my right state of mind.
This was, after all, the big time. In previous years, when I didn’t live in Denver, I’d pick up gear here and there as needed, usually waiting until my dad gave me money or gift cards to buy equipment, then browsing the sales. If I happened to be west of the Mississippi for the big Labor Day sales, I’d browse with my dad, seeing if there were deals to be had and approaching the whole affair somewhat dismissively, like a sane person would do.
But something happened when I moved back to Denver last year. I started going up skiing more, and my flexible work schedule allowed me to go up and catch numerous powder days. And the great conditions and added practice time compared to years previous made me realize something: I fucking love skiing.
So it was with a new zeal that I went and shopped around for a new pair of ski boots last year. The ones I had owned for sixteen years were no longer going to cut it, literally–they were so loose as to be sloppy, and sharp turns were not going to happen.
The sales are excellent at the end of the year, but since stores sell their equipment off as hard and fast as they can to make room for camping equipment and hiking gear, the selection was limited when I checked in spring. My best bet for getting that magical pair of foot-shaped bowling balls that is so crucial to a skier’s performance was going to have to wait until summer wound down.
Cue the VIP invite. Colorado Ski & Golf made it known on its website that Labor Day weekend would be the big one, and snow enthusiasts could pour in for the chance to beat each other to death over the last pair of Atomic Advance skis.
But Ethan and I bought ski passes last week. Turns out that the purchase of the Epic Local pass gets you a chance to come in on Friday, before the sale opens to the “general public” (never mind the staggering number of people who bought one of these passes since last year and received such an invite). Even though I knew people would sneak off of work a day early to try and surge ahead of the masses for the elusive intersection of price and quality…well, actually, because of that, I knew I needed to take advantage.
So there Ethan and I were, lined up eagerly as we watched employees brace themselves for the onslaught. The doors opened, and we filed silently and respectfully in. I joined the crowd waiting to get fitted for ski boots, and Ethan went to look for a better-fitting jacket and skis that were an upgrade from a 2009 rental package that had been put on sale, the only skis he’d ever owned.
I tried on three pairs of boots. The man helping me let me know prices and discounts on all three, and happily encouraged my purchase of the mid-price point boots. Alas, he wasn’t wearing his name tag, so I was unable to compliment on his excellent knowledge of the stock that would fit my wide feet and lack of interest in pushing the top-end, super pricy boots on me.
Ethan found a pair of skis he’d had his eye on for a while, and he clutched them so eagerly that I bought them as a really early Generic Winter Holiday gift. We both found nicely discounted parkas in the sale tent, and a mere three hours after our arrival, we stood in the long line at the checkout. All in good time, though–we had planned out a chunk of time, knowing that the crowd would pile up.
Alas, not all who came understood how the massive Labor Day sales work. “Come on!” a frustrated frat boy shouted from another line. “I’ve been waiting here half an hour! Why’s it taking so long?” The other customers shot him dirty looks and muttered under their breath.
Five minutes passed. “What the hell, man?” the asshole shouted. By this point, I was tired and cranky. I’d had enough of his bullshit.
“What did you expect?” I yelled back.
“I expected to be out of here by now!”
I sneered and shrugged. “That’s life!” I yelled back, though I don’t think he heard me.
Ethan and I paid for our gear and hauled the bags and skis out to the car. The frat boy was still standing in line, his purpling face contrasting horribly with his violently green shirt. I caught his eye and smirked on the way out. The beauty of karma.
The heat wave has broken at last. Once it starts snowing again, Ethan and I will be more than ready to hit the slopes. I can’t guarantee that I won’t have a snide comment or two for the Black Friday campers, but I guarantee I will be laughing and taking pictures if I see an ugly frat-boy type riding down the mountain on his face.