Sales: Teenage boys in search of Puffas and Penguin top queue
Bargain-hunters line up from early St Stephen’s morning in Dublin city centre
Shoppers outside a Next store in Nottingham, England as sales get underway. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Nidge may well have died in a hail of bullets over a year ago but he’s still setting style trends when it comes to sales time in Dublin.
Lazy gender stereotyping would have you believe women would make up the vast majority of the maddening crowd waiting in the rain before the doors of Arnotts opened at 9am on St Stephen’s Day but that could scarcely have been further from the truth.
In fact it was young men in the market for the puffa jackets and Penguin polo shirts , the like of which were once worn by the fictional gangland kingpin, who made up much of the queue shortly before sale showtime.
At the very top of the queue on Henry Street was a group of young men in brightly coloured padded jackets and grey tracksuits. “I’ve been here since 6.30am,” said Jeff Hardy from Drimnagh. “I’m looking for shoes. And maybe stuff from Paul Smith or Hugo Boss. ”
He laughed when asked what on Earth a group of teenage boys were thinking when they decided to get up hours before dawn to stand in the rain in the hope of snagging themselves a few bargains. “Ah sure it only comes once a year,” the Hardy boy declared.
His buddy James O’Brien had his back. “I’m looking for some gear” he said, a phrase which caused howls of laughter and some good natured shoving amongst his peer group of unlikely fashionistos , a word so rarely used that not even Google recognises it.
Fiona Kelly and her twin sister Niamh drove up from Navan with their cousin Aisling Kelly. Normally their first sales stop is the Blanchardstown Centre but this year they figured they’d go the extra mile and head for the city centre and to Arnotts. “We actually thought there’d be more of a queue,” Aisling said, sounding somewhat disappointed.. “And where are all the women? There seems to be a lot of young guys in this queue.”
She didn’t have an eye for the ladies though. “I have my eye on a Michael Korrs bag. I think they’re around €120 and they’re normally €250. So that’s a big saving.”
“I’m going for a Guess bag and I reckon I will save at least €70. I’ll just buy one and maybe some jewellery,” said Fiona. “And maybe some clothes although clothes are on sale so much these days you don’t make as many savings as in the past. We’re used to Blanch where we’ve seen more pushing and people fighting over the bags.”
For her part, Niamh admitted she’d be following her sister around “and whatever she buys, I’ll want too. There might be a fight between us as we head for the tills.”
Then the doors opened and a wave of people flooded the shoe gardens and the bag section but it was Northern Face where most activity appeared to be as all the young dudes who had been queuing so patiently descend like locusts on coats and tops with labels they recognised.
“It’s all about the Puffa jackets and the polo shirts from Penguin,” a slightly bemused looking shop assistant from a different concession said. “I think Nidge wore those in Love/Hate and they’ve been huge ever since.”
Another staff member looked on, looking equally bemused. “I don’t know what it is about the jackets,” she whispered. “All the lads are mad for them. I don’t really like them myself. I don’t mind working on Stephen’s Day, though. The money is great and sure where else would I be?”
Across the river similar scenes were being played out on Grafton Street. River Island was the first of the big retail chains out of the blocks opening its doors at 8am. By 8.20am, there were maybe 50 or so people milling about the shop floor.
A similar number had gathered outside Brown Thomas where the big label action had yet to begin. Close to the front of the line was Jeanette O’Dwyer from Inchicore. “I’m here for him, really,” she said nodding in the direction of her 12-year-old son Eoin “He got money for Christmas and wants to spend it in Brown Thomas.”
And what was Eoin in the market for? He looked at his shoes, out of shyness, more than anything else. “I dunno. Jeans and runners and stuff like that,” he mumbled eventually.
“I was here two years ago,” his mother continues. “It seemed busier then. There was a queue around the block. I am going to buy a DKNY purse for myself. It’s going for €45 and wit was €110. So I’ll be saying myself 65 quid for the sake of a day.”
Another woman in the queue had a better reason that saving a few bob to be in line, or at least so she said. “I don’t like me husband,” she laughed. “He’s at home in bed so I thought I’d come in here for a bit of craic.”
It wasn’t yet 8.30am and Amy Coughlan from Crumlin had already got herself a pair of jeans from River Island. “It’s not the Mae West in there to be honest,” she said ruefully. “”It might be better in BTs. I’m just going in for a bit of a nose though. I might buy a Michael Korrs bag or something. After that I might go out to Dundrum for a look”
As she was speaking there were no more than 40 people in the queue but it got longer as the dawn slowly broke over a damp cold city which had called time rampant consumerism for 39 long hours.
Penney’s was open too and promising big bargains. It was quiet there. Staff forlornly folded and refolded clothes in an attempt to look busy.
Moustache salt and pepper shakers, reindeer mugs and festive baubles which had been selling for €5 less than 48 hours early were now going a single euro. But there were no takers. It was too early to be thinking of Christmas.