Congestion on the Don Valley Parkway in Toront...Image via Wikipedia

I felt brave this morning, plus I had the magic advance notice of Tilley Sale card in hand, so I ventured down the 404 to the Don Valley Parkway (a more apt name was never coined!). Noticed a lot of white Lexus’ being driven by serious-looking 30 something guys wearing dark shades and pointy hair-dos.  Then east along O’Connor Drive. The red brick wartime bungalows reminded me of our neighbourhood and  growing up in Niagara, but the prices certainly are a staggering multiple of what our little house cost in the mid-60s.

But I digress. The sale started at 9 and I arrived about five mintues early, thinking I’d cruise into the back lot and tuck into a spot by the dumpster, as in previous years. Wrong-o! Cars were parked nose-to-tail almost to the intersection and there were about 200 people already in the lineup to get in, cluthing their clear plastic bags and bright yellow flyers. There were more paid-duty police than I’d ever seen, sort of directing traffic but mainly standing there with their thumbs in their duty belts, looking bemused at the crowd of mostly OGs (older guys)  and OWs (older women) waiting patiently and sharing bargain-finding tips.

So I coasted around the block, parked on a residential side street and hoofed it to the end of the line, which had already started moving smartly. The old arena was HOT! Despite the ranks of industrial fans ringing the sales floor, hundreds of eager shopper-bodies kept generating a lot more heat than the errant artificial breezes could clear. I could barely squeeze through the spaces between the round hanging racks. After a while, all I could think about was Filene’s basement or Macy’s on sale day, when hordes of women – and a few men –  clutching wads of clothing under their arms hop around on one foot trying stuff on. The lineup for the canvas-walled dressing rooms stretched from one side of the build to the other, so I can understand their motivation. Did I say it was HOT?

The intial stampede was to the back, where there were mounds of Tilley hats (world famous, it floats) and assorted travel do-dads piled up on tables. I bought my mesh Tilley hat a couple of years ago and it is a marvel. It’s not just serviceable, it looks jaunty, too, and I love the secret pocket. Couldn’t find anything for my Honey that was attractive or interesting, so I left the men’s racks alone this year. They say women are pushy shoppers – not so. A couple of gents used the double hockey-elbow maneuver to get around me to reach the rack of XLs. Settle down, Boys – just because they’re on sale doesn’t mean you have to snatch them out of my hand! A baby was wailing off to the side. I guess Mom couldn’t get a sitter, or maybe she had no idea what a scrum day one would be, but the child must have been frantic, trapped in a stroller amidst a sea of crepey knees and hanging sleeves as far as the eye could see.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, so I tried on a few bush blouses. The white one had a spot of something – grease or coffee – on the collar.  Didn’t like the way they fit, either – those two pockets strategically placed over the breasts are distracting at best and not very usable, unless you have no chest to prefill them with. So after being jostled by genuinely serious shoppers and lining up for 7 minutes for one of the two (2!) on site washrooms (how do grown women manage to pee on the toilet seat and not notice?) , I picked up a nifty nail clipper set in an aluminum case and another insulated water bottle (bright blue) and headed for the exit. Did I need either of those things – no –  but since I’d driven through bumper-to-bumper traffic for 90 mintues to get there, I wasn’t going home empty-handed.

But the lineups at the cash counters were too long, so I stopped by the fabric table just inside the door, across from the young constable checking sales tags as folks exited with their booty (not the bum-booty, but their fashion finds). It was $2 a metre for plain and $4 a metre for prints, so I got five metres of a greeny-tan suit-weight stretch, the same of a flame-toned jersey knit and a tiny beige-cranberry liberty print that didn’t make me want to barf when I looked at it. A couple of grey-hairs tried to butt into line, but the young women struggling with the unrolling and cutting kept good order.

So it was a relatively cheap morning for me, compared to previous years. I spent just under $70. Power-shopping at its best! There was a good selection of sizes, meaning not everything was for the under size 12 crowd, but nothing rang my bell. Couldn’t find a vest with lots of pockets in a shade that didn’t scream ‘boring tourist’. The colours seemed dull and the styles uninspiring. Maybe I’m Tilley’d out?

So my fabric stash has grown exponentially. I sewed a drapey jacket this afternoon and I’ll peruse my patterns tonight while we’re watching So You Think you Can Dance, to see what else I want to sew.

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