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I Am Happiest at a Friends and Family Sale

There’s booze, discounts, and the intangible feeling of belonging.

Two women in a store holding drinks Photo: Getty Images

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Congratulations, everyone! We are now in the midst of the most wonderful time of the year: sale season. Until mid-January, and even February in the cases of some stores and websites, there will be at least a 30-percent-off sale almost everywhere you go. Rejoice; there is so much impulse shopping and unnecessary spending ahead of you! Take a minute to forget the terrors of our world!

But while I love all sales deeply, I do have a favorite kind. You see, nothing makes me feel more alive than a friends and family sale with the promise of alcoholic beverages and maybe even snacks.

Before I continue, I must define “friends and family sale” for you. In the past, I believe these sales were created for the purpose of inviting only actual family members and close friends into physical shops for pre-sales. They were an extension of the much sought-after “friends and family discount”; now, invitations are now sent far more widely. In my case, I define a friends and family invitee as someone who shops in a particular store quite a lot. I tell you this to say that my invitation, and the invitations of many others like me, is earned and not given willy-nilly.

And the reason I love our reward, a friends and family sale, is because (live) shopping and alcohol are my two most favorite vices. A beloved shop is the only place where I can follow my creative instincts without question. I know if I NEED those wide-leg pants or if that shirt will def be too boxy for my boobs, and I don’t think twice about it. To add alcohol to this creative confidence, then, is only to deepen it, explore it, to make it more fun and to make me more likely to spend money without guilt.

Even if you go to stores only to shop and not to escape your paralyzing anxiety, I still think friends and family sales can be really great! There is also the emptiness of the store, since not many people are there because the events are invite-only. So you can run through the space freely, picking up millions of things to try on and not worrying about being in the dressing rooms for too long or fighting over items with friends and strangers. There are probably doubles of things, and other sizes! This isn’t a sample sale at Kleinfeld; it’s friends and family day. It’s our time!

This brings me to my next point: I love the intimacy of friends and family sales. There’s always quiet in the air. No salesperson is aggressively trying to help me; they can simply greet me with a “Hi! So good to see you,” because, after all, they invited me and I showed up just as they knew I would. No one has to tell me how to dress something up or down. They know I know I can pair sneakers with a ball gown — this isn’t amateur hour. On F and F day, I truly feel like I am part of the fabric of the store. If the store were a TV show, I would be a recurring tertiary character. (By season 7, I’d have my own storyline where I’m in a love triangle with the store manager and the evil business owner that wants to take over his lease.) So, on a deeper level, an invitation to a friends and family sale means that I am accepted and loved back by something/someone I truly love: a store and its salespeople. That’s what it should also mean to you, my fellow F and F invitees/shopaholics. We are loved. We are seen. We are more than just credit cards. We are friends. We are family.

You may want to stop me here and say, “Hey Miranda, you’re really extrapolating a whole lot from nothing.” You may want to tell me that “everyone on a store’s email list gets invited to friends and family day. It doesn’t mean salespeople love you. They have their own actual friends.” And to this I say: Yeah, you’re probably right, but a friends and family sale still means what it does to me because it has to.

We shopaholics are hard workers. We have spent hours and hours in stores. We have spent so much time with salespeople. We know about their children; they know about our bodies’s problem areas. They’ve let us return final sale dresses because we thought they looked “too bulky in our home mirrors.” So an invitation to a friends and family sale means more to us than it does to just someone on an email list. We have to believe that all of our over-shopping has amounted to more than just overspending leading to overdraft. We have to believe in the bonds formed in stores.

And so in the end, this is an ode to the salespeople who have helped us over the years (particularly the ones who don’t work on commission because then we know our love is real). I know that even if I hadn’t been on an email list, you would have called me and left a message to make sure I arrived on this special Saturday because I am a part of your life, just as you are a part of mine. But even if everyone is invited and I’m not that special, life is about human connection. And isn’t it nice to just go to a store sometimes? And to ask someone you don’t know but who looks cool what they think a pair of pants does for your shape? Instead of just sitting at home and going “click, click, PayPal, receive, return, click, click”? I think it is. I really fucking think it is.

Also, there might be snacks.