I mentioned last week that the girls and I were going to a Goodwill Grand Opening. We were hoping to find some books and other assorted treasures.
Instead, what we found was by far one of the most bizarre shopping experiences of my life.
Have any of you ever been to a Goodwill Grand opening?
I realized that something was up when I first pulled into the parking lot. Located in a shopping center with other stores, I quickly saw that parking was going to be a problem. And not a "we have to park a mile away" kind of problem, but rather a "we have to drive around the parking lot for 15 minutes before we get a spot" kind of problem.
We drove around and around. And around some more.
I'm not a very aggressive person. In fact, I'm probably the least aggressive/competitive person I know. But after about 10 minutes of cruising the parking lot, I realized I would have to start stalking people.
You know--waiting for someone to come out of the doors and then slowly following them in my car all the way to their car. I don't think I've ever done this--I've seen other more brazen shoppers do this and always thought it was a little much, but now, here I was, doing the same thing--in the Goodwill parking lot of all places.
I spotted an older woman with a huge bag and started tailing her. I had no idea if her car was in this lane and out of the side of my eye I saw another car slowing down in the opposite lane--waiting to see if she was going to cross over. I gripped the wheel and leaned in. Her spot was MINE.
At that moment, Juliet yells out, "Hey mom! The police are here!!" Which made my heart jump because of course, I was certain that they were after me for attempting to drive down a helpless old lady.
Fortunately, they were not after me, but were just part of the security for the big event.
When we entered the store and passed through a blue and white balloon arch; there were people everywhere. It was impossible to walk a straight line to anywhere due to the shopping cart traffic jam. People were pushing and shoving and there was a tinge of mania in the air. You could tell people were grabbing things just to grab them--so no one else could get them. Worse than Walmart on the Saturday before Christmas. It was insane.
We pushed through--kind of--and eventually made our way to the furniture. Except there were about three carts between us and the furniture, so I couldn't really tell if there was anything good. I saw a giant wicker chair that looked interesting, but I couldn't figure out how I would carry it out through the shopping cart armageddon.
Like lemmings being pushed to the sea, we found ourselves in the basket aisle. Only one other cart joined us so we had a chance to breathe. I found a large round basket that I thought could work for toy storage and Juliet eyed a picnic basket that looked just like Dorothy's from the Wizard of Oz.
We loaded them up and tried to make our way to the far corner of the store--where all the children's books were.
As I tried to move into the traffic, a woman smiled at me and I said, "Wow--I did not expect there to be so many people here today!" And she said, "I heard that people were lined up out here 3 hours before it opened. All the booksellers were here carting off all the good books to resell at their stores."
My heart sunk at this news. We arrived a good two hours after opening, so there was likely to be nothing left on the shelves.
We pressed on anyway, though. I still had hope.
When we finally got to the shelf, the children's section was pretty small. Two older women were searching through the books and after my parking lot police scare (and seeing all the uniformed officers patrolling the inside of the store), I decided to be on my best behavior and not push them out of my way. I stood their for about 3 minutes until they noticed me and invited me in.
As I was looking, I spotted two Usborne Touch and Feel books and immediately snatched them up. (Ha! Take that, you early-rising booksellers! You didn't get these gems!) And then I heard one of the ladies (who seemed to be in her 70s or 80s) say, "Oh, this book! I just don't get this book. Kind of like Where the Wild Things Are. I never got that book."
I was so curious as to what book she was talking about, but I couldn't see it in time before she put it back on the shelf. Any guesses? Even without knowing the title, her comment made me laugh.
She then picked up a Dr. Seuss book and exclaimed, "Oh my! Dr. Seuss books have gotten big!" (It seemed to be a regular sized book) "I remember when they were so small...."
Again, I was so curious to hear more, but at that point, the tide of shopping carts was moving us on and I had think of my children's survival.
Somehow we made our way to the end of the checkout line. There were 10 carts in front of us--all packed full of stuff.
I knew we would be there for a while and the girls were getting restless, so I pulled out the big guns: the fruit snacks.
Which of course only bought me about 1.5 minutes of time. There were still 10 carts in front of us. We waited and waited and waited some more. At 10 minutes in, I looked at our finds and thought, "Nothing in this cart is that GREAT. I think we should just ditch it and head out the door."
Lucia, who had been screaming intermittently for the past 10 minutes looked relieved, but Juliet looked pained and yelled, "NO! What about my picnic basket?!"
"Do you really need a basket?" I asked her. We can find one another day. "This is going to take way too long and your sister is upset."
"I really need it." she replied solemnly.
So, we stayed.
10 minutes of crying later, and we are still in line. Now there are 7 carts in front of us. A manager walks up to us and asks, "How long have you been waiting?"
"Um...feels like 20 years, but I'm guessing it's only been about 20 minutes." He gave me a weird look and left.
After he walked away, I noticed that Lucia had stopped crying.
She was frantically rubbing her chest with her hand--kind of in a circular motion. Her eyes were fixated on me pleadingly.
I had no idea what she was doing and then it hit me. She was signing the word "please."
We've been trying to teach her this sign for several months--I think she has done it maybe one other time before. Generally, she prefers a loud squawk to let you know she wants something. To her 15 month old way of thinking, "please" is for chumps.
But here she was, stuck in the never-ending Goodwill line and so desperate to leave that she would try ANYTHING--even good manners to just make this ALL GO AWAY.
I don't know how much longer we waited--it's all kind of a blur--but eventually we paid for our stuff and walked out the door.
As I walked past the receipt checker with a wild-eyed Lucia in one arm, a giant basket full of books in another and a 5 year old with a half-crazed/triumphant look on her face and a picnic basket as big as she is on her arm, he took one look at me and said, "Honey, I am not even going to make you empty your baskets. You have a good day now."
And out we walked, through the blue and white balloon arch, past the police men, and a few miles to our parking spot.
We had survived the Goodwill Grand Opening.
The basket. In all its glory.
So worth it.
The books we found?
While I don't think I'll go back to a grand opening, I am glad we made it out with our lives and few fun treasures to show for it.
Do you like these sort of shopping experiences or do you prefer a calmer atmosphere?