Thursday, August 02, 2007

Surplus Customers

Yesterday was the beginning of the liquidation sale at the Army Surplus (as I'd mentioned last post); I had genuinely thought that I would drop in and look around right as it opened, because I am a moron.

See, I work at the same intersection as the former United Army Surplus -- right across, way up high in the Tower of Song One Canada Centre. I had thought I would go for lunch at ten to noon, grab some food from the cafeteria on the third floor, then make my way across to the sale where there might be ten or twenty people gathering at the front door.

No, I'm not being facetious. I actually thought this. I really thought this was how it was going to work.

The cafeteria has windows, of course; I sat down with my food and curiosity compelled me to check the crowd, you know, see if anybody bothered... to...


Oh dear.

Well, that'll teach me to take my lunch break so early in the day.

I gobbled up my purchases and made my way out onto street level to investigate.

From a level perspective, it looked like even more people; then again, it probably was, because the line was still growing.

During this time I was stopped not once but twice by passers-by who saw me taking pictures of the line and asked what was going on; the news came as a surprise to said passers-by. One woman told me that she had been out of town for a couple weeks, which would mean she had missed the whole thing unfold; heck of a way to find out!

My public service as a living NPC ("Welcome to Winnipeg!" "I like Slurpees!" "Welcome to Winnipeg!" "I like Slurpees!") out of the way, I made another discovery. What I hadn't realized originally, from my previous perch a hundred feet up, is that the line of people didn't extend around two walls of the building as it had appeared; it extended around three walls.

(As per my previous post, I wonder how many people in line even noticed the "WARNING" sign. Man, I still can't get over that.)

Well, I could tell that I obviously was not getting into this building during my meager lunch break. (The people at the front of the line had been there since half past eight in the morning, for crap's sakes.)

For the sake of argument:

That was the view from the back of the line. Somehow this dissuaded me.

I decided I would spend my time getting some good crowd shots instead; I couldn't exactly go back to the office and declare a mulligan on my lunch break timing.

Keep in mind, the front doors (or what I would consider the front doors -- the ones along Portage) weren't open; everybody was getting in exclusively through the side door along that one little side street, and the staff weren't letting very many people in at a time. The view from the front doors:

There were a lot of people. I don't think I can stress that enough.

And obviously I wasn't going to be the only person there toting a camera, either.

Man, to have a cameraman job. I tell you. If they're paid even remotely well, I want in and I want in now. Here I was taking still pictures on my own time, with a digital camera originally assembled at the turn of the century, and I was going to have to knock it off because I had to go back to my actual job and photocopy documents. What a world! But alas.

Again -- and to sum up -- there were a lot of people. To think that the collapse and closure of a decades-old downtown mainstay is all that it takes to get shoppers out downtown in droves!

The postscript to all of this is that I went and bought a few things from the store after work; turns out the much-anticipated liquidation discount was a paltry 20%, which is almost insulting. (Clearly S.I.R. doesn't actually want to sell the leftover stock as leftover stock; I suspect their plan is to quietly slip the Surplus inventory into their own and sell it at full price, which they can't do if the closure discount is attractive enough that people actually want to buy things.) I bought some small car supplies and a white camouflage t-shirt, so now I'll have a cute story to tell and some bargain hunter street cred if someone ever asks me where I got it.

Aww, yeah. Not just anybody can make this look work, you know. This is big dog style, right here. (Okay, you got me -- I have no idea what I'm talking about. It's a nice shirt, though!)

To my knowledge, the store is still open and the sale still continues; it's worth dropping in if you're nearby, at the very least. I assure you the crowds are smaller now.

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