Target’s Missoni Sale Shows How Low We Can Go

Give Americans a shopping deal and you get $31,000 rain boots on eBay

For over a month, the reminder has hung on my bulletin board, a glossy page ripped out of a magazine featuring a tight shot of a few pillows and blankets in that iconic zig-zag pattern. At the very top, there are the dates—September 13th to October 22nd—and next to that, the infamous bull’s-eye.

Apparently, when you put that bull’s-eye next to those zig-zags, you get hysteria. Rampant hysteria.

By early August, if you hadn’t heard that Missoni was coming out with a line for Target, you were living under a rock. Magazines and commercials heralded the 400-piece collection as if it were the second coming, much like they did when Karl Lagerfeld launched a line for H&M. I had my shopping list ready: I wanted the patterned bike, for the two times a year I ride one. I also wanted the rolling luggage, the blankets, the dishware.

I planned to shop online in the morning while I finished my coffee. I’d fill my digital cart with a few choice items—the perfect amount to add a small punch of the psychedelic print to my home, but not too much to be garish or cheap-looking—and be checked out by 9:30 a.m. Maybe I’d pop by my local Target after work and check out the collection if I didn’t have time to log on in the morning. Oh, that time of blissful naïvete.

How silly I was! How feeble my plans! I should’ve come armed with a sleeping bag the night before! I should have stationed myself outside the automatic doors early Monday evening, nestled between two red shopping carts for warmth, wearing steel-toed boots and brandishing a club to fend off the roaring, stampeding masses! Instead, I was at my computer, fruitlessly refreshing my screen as Target’s website crashed.

Then the reports trickled in: People were buying out entire shelves. Women weren’t even looking at sizes, just tossing items into their carts. If it bore the orange label, it was good enough. Stores sold out in minutes. One Target employee told me that she saw people scoop up clothes at the returns counter, not even bothering to unfold them or check the price tag. Maybe we were just label-hungry. Maybe these people were the ones who’d lusted after the high-end collection for years but couldn’t afford it. Now, they could have a piece of the famed design house.

And then more reports. The items were being listed in eBay, for double, triple, five times the original Target price. That bike I wanted? Originally $400, I can now buy it on eBay for $1,550. As of this morning, if you search “Missoni Target” on eBay, you’ll get 21,291 results. What is wrong with us? Are we so obsessed with making an easy buck that we can’t enjoy a designer sale like normal, civilized human beings, buying some things—hell, even filling up a cart if we feel the urge—and then leaving what we don’t want for others? No, of course not. Instead we swipe our arms across the shelf holding 65 pairs of $29.99 Missoni flats, and then resell them on eBay for $75 the next day. CNN recently reported that one woman in Oklahoma listed a pair of sold-out $34.99 Missoni for Target rain boots for $31,000 on the auction site. She hopes to pay her daughter’s first year of college tuition with the proceeds.

We should be embarrassed. Something nice comes along and we ruin it. We suck the life out of it until it’s worthless. Maybe this is what Target had in mind all along, to build such a frenzied buzz about the collection that it’d be impossible to have enough supply for the demand they’d created. Maybe they knew how the public would react, that we’d act like a horde of vultures, picking the zig-zagged bone clean. Maybe this was a social experiment, to illustrate how far we’ve sunk from proper behavior.

But I doubt it. So now the best we can do is rifle through the few lone, picked-over items on the website (there’s a shower curtain and a $600 outdoor sectional set still available), or place a $29,000 bid on a pair of plastic rain boots.

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