On my way home this evening I walked past the H & M store which opened in Melbourne's old GPO building in Bourke Street on Saturday. Until this week, I had never heard of H & M. Apparently they are a Swedish clothing retailer and we're supposed to be beside ourselves with excitement.
By the middle of last week, builders were putting the final touches to the building and installing red carpets, velvet ropes, spotlights and marquees. There was also a huge digital clock counting down the very seconds until our deprivation would be ended and Melbourne would have the only H & M store in Australia. I watched as two young women shooed the fifty-year old male security guard behind a pillar so they could take photographs of the front entry (before the store opened). A whippet thin, spray tanned PR blond standing nearby smirked as she tried to operate her phone with her stupidly long fake fingernails.
Since the opening on Saturday, people have been queuing for hours to gain entry. To a shop. That's right, people have been lining up for hours so they can go into a shop. If it was World War II and we were in Leningrad, then this might be appropriate if the shop was a bakery or supermarket, but it isn't. Presumably all of the merchandise inside the shop is only a click away from the comfort of bed if your ipad is handy. Amongst all the groaning about the demise of bricks and mortar retailers, the hype seems ridiculous.
On Saturday there was a DJ inside Flinders Street Station. That was nice, but it didn't inspire me to go and stand in a line for hours. Banners at Southern Cross Station told me that the moment I'd been waiting for had arrived!
I wonder what it's like inside and whether there are crowds of people and the restriction of numbers is just to keep the queue in place, with the double effect of scarcity and desirability sending the message that everyone needs to be there.
A quick look at their website suggests that it's Swedish Target or Big W. I suppose that's handy, but it's not enough for me to stand in a line for hours. I would have trouble doing this for the Leningrad Bakery, I'm certainly not doing it now.
The last time I queued was Expo 88 in Brisbane. The whole city learned how to queue for hours at Expo. It was so well-organised and there was passing entertainment, that you didn't mind. You knew that it was only going to be there for 6 months, so there was a now or never aspect to it. Word got out very quickly about what was worth queuing for and logically, the places that were worth the wait always had a wait. I haven't heard that H & M is a pop up shop and will be gone soon. I can just wait until the day I can just walk in the door. I expect to be as underwhelmed as I was when Zara opened at the other end of the mall.
I wonder how long the velvet ropes and security guards will last? Have you been to H & M? What's it like? What are you willing to queue for?