Cash + Carry: Where They Come to Shop & Stay to Party

Ask anyone in the apparel business how their year has been and they'll tell you. And you'll want to help them out somehow, maybe call Dr. Oz to see if there's a holistic remedy for that. (There's not.) They'll blame it on the strong dollar, on the peaking of #athleisure, on the death of khaki, on natural disasters and national disasters and Trump. Definitely Trump. 

Y'all, those are all excuses. Nobody shops anymore! 

When was the last time you had fun shopping? I can tell you mine: It was the summer of 2000, and my mother took my best friend and me to Kansas City for a back-to-school shopping trip. Had a super-chic Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors haircut and brand new retainers. Mom bought me a crimson red microfiber Kate Spade handbag. It looked like this. Perfection. Anyway, that was 16 years ago, and the bag is long gone.

I was overdue for some spend-thrifty fun when Alive invited me to join them at their preview party for Cash + Carry -- an annual event at which local boutiques and brands converge in an empty space to sell their wares at discounted prices. A bar at the far end proffered wine and booze (because buying unnecessary fashions is even more enjoyable whilst tipsy), and a photographer snapped everyone's picture, so everyone felt glamorous and important. High spirits all around. 

Now the gear on display was not your typical red-line fare; it wasn't all the shit that featured stores couldn't otherwise sell. These were new, full-price products, discounted for ticket-holding patrons. And a ticket cost ten dollars. PR + a highly engaged audience = sales. The shops all seemed happy with their traffic. I, to whit, drove home with a pile of new stuff (none of it needed).

But what I took away from Cash + Carry even more than a few good deals was the sense that this is the only way shopping will continue to entice customers weary of the mundane and conditioned by Amazon to stay on the couch. Cash + Carry was fun; shopping was like the excuse to gather and socialize. It was the main event...but it wasn't. 

When my mother bought me that Kate Spade bag nearly two decades ago, we walked out of Halls--the fancy department store in KC's Country Club Plaza--as high from the experience of simply being there as from the purchase. We felt special. There was music and champagne (for Mom) and incredibly personal service. Now, when I absolutely must enter Saks or Nordstrom, I feel like I'm saving Private Ryan. There's discounted shit everywhere; the inventory is stale, and the only people who speak to me are hawking Lady Gaga's newest fragrance. (Leave me alone!)

Say what you will about paying ten dollars to shop cut-rate merch; if my friends are there and a bar and a photographer, I will show up. And buy something.