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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Great Singapore Sale

(Artwork by Banksy)

The great Singapore sale is on and local and foreign bargain hunters are flocking to the shopping malls in millions. So crowded are the shopping malls in Singapore during the weekends that the store owners are thinking about installing traffic lights within the mall premises.

And though the Great Singapore Sale is only a two month affair, most shops in Singapore put up their bright red “On Sale” signages around the year. This makes one wonder whether these stores or manufacturers ever get the products and their pricing right. But instead of being humble about this inability of theirs, store managers maintain a stiff upper lip when it comes to goods on sale and keep giving snooty looks to the hapless customers shopping for a Sale. The bargain hunters have also assimilated this power dynamics and typically avoid asking the store managers any questions about goods on sale. They also avoid visiting the trial rooms with an article on Sale in their hands.

The key attraction during a Sale is the Sale tank where goods on sale are jumbled up in a heap. Typically, this tank is the center of attraction in any store with shoppers quietly bending over to hunt for bargains like piranhas finishing off the last bits of a meal. I do feel pity for the goods that lie at the bottom of this tank and never get touched by probing shopper hands. Why don’t stores keep a long handled ladle by the tank so that bargain hunters can churn things from time to time?

There is also something unique about people who make the “On Sale” signs or tags. They are all a group of clumsy inattentive people. They can never manage to write correctly the first time the price of a product on sale, often striking out the first mistake. The store owners then have to make up for this mistake made with permanent markers by saying that the struck down price was the original price of the product.

But a Sale also serves a useful purpose as an agent of continuity in our daily lives. After all yesterday’s fashion is today’s Sale.

Though the bargain hunters are delighted when an article is put on Sale, it is also a sad moment for the article itself, an admission that the article is not worth what it was deemed to be. So next time you buy an article on Sale, please keep a minute of silence in respect of the article as you pays for it at the cash counter.

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