For the last week people have been lining up every morning to spend lots of money on our little street. Several doors down from us is a private sale store. These ventes privées are not unusual here. In order to shop there you have to be a member, which entails buying a card for 20 euros a year. That entitles you to shop when they have a sale. For 90 euros a year you get priority access and can shop for two days before the sale opens to the 20 euros crowd. The merchandise changes every week, some high end, some more mid-market, whatever manufacturer is off-loading overruns or last season's unsold goods.
This week it's Jean Paul Gaultier. We've been here more than six weeks and this is the first time there are lines to get in, red velvet ropes, doormen, black-suited security guards. It's like a daytime night club. For some reason about 80% of the people in line are black.
And when they're finally allowed in, they apparently have to stand in line to view the goods. One window of the interior opens onto our courtyard and I stopped to look at what was going on inside.
The window was very dirty but you can see that people are waiting their turn to go through the boxes set out on the tables. These boxes are holding the merchandise and it would seem that you get your chance to look at it while being aware that there are dozens of people waiting behind you, hoping you move quickly and that you don't find anything so there will be more for them. Your basic relaxed shopping experience. You can see the shoulder of the guard standing there to keep order in case all these desperate shoppers break ranks and run amok.
And what are the prizes they're after? What I can see through the smudged window are bags for 350 euros, 120 euros, 200 euros. One of these bags is close enough to the window so that I can see the original price tag. It reads 2,350 euros.
Excuse me while I line up.