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“How We “”Bare”” the “”Soldes”””

This morning at the crack of dawn, the official “soldes” (sales) began in Paris and other parts of France. According to article D. 310-15-2 of the code of commerce, the winter sales each year begin the second Wednesday of January at 8 a.m., although some departments/zones have fixed different dates, and last five weeks (through February 9th). (Click here to view the chart.)

Recently, the laws were amended to allow for two complimentary weeks of choice by the merchant, who must declare their choice to the Prefect, but which cannot take place during the month preceding the summer or winter sale periods. Monday and Tuesday, the stores were virtually free of shoppers in anticipation of the annual sales and in one shoe store, the shopkeepers told me they weren’t even given their instructions for mark-downs until Tuesday evening.

‘Free enterprise’ in France is seen from a different point of view as it is Stateside. As an American, it would be unthinkable that anyone, especially the government, could dictate to a merchant when to mark down their wares or not! From a capitalistic concept, the idea of free enterprise is that every merchant may buy and sell their wares as they choose, with some regulations of course, to prevent unjustifiable abuse of power. In this more socialistic democracy, the regulations are seen as a way of protecting both merchants and consumers by ‘leveling the playing field,’ so to speak.

From my American point of view, the consumers suffer greatly. We pay full retail most of the year with little opportunity to save money, even on unwanted merchandise. Of course, that’s true for the merchant, too. He may have wanted to rid himself of the merchandise and had no opportunity, either! When the sale period arrives, it becomes chaos in the stores and boutiques! Everyone is scrambling to find bargains. I’ve seen lots of fights break out between two feisty shoppers, vying for the same item! And if for some reason the sale period just isn’t convenient for you, you lose out. Simple as that.

I normally avoid the “soldes” ‘like the plague.’ Walking down rue de Rivoli between rue du Louvre and the Hôtel de Ville is like maneuvering Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. I just received a text message on my cell phone: “Soldes du BHV, encore plus de remises! -15% supplémentaires sur les soldes en réglant avec la carte BHV du 6 au 13/01. Profitez-en vite! Modalités en magasin.” That means that at the BHV department store, I can get an extra 15% discount on certain items when I use my BHV credit card. Yeah! Or Help!?

Also this morning, an email message came in from Facebook, posted by my daughter, asking for votes on her latest photography project: “Nue York: Self-Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen.” It seemed quite apropos to today’s laun

ch of the semi-annual sales! I quote (from her text about her “Nue York Portraits”):

“In this fashion-driven city where you are what you wear, I sometimes lose faith in the humanity and groundedness of New Yorkers. If your Chanel bag isn’t up to season and your Christian Louboutins are slightly worn in, the world may actually collapse… As I watch this image-absorbed union of people around me care more about the sales at Barney’s than the homeless people they step over in the subway, it makes me think: what would we do without clothes? How would we portray ourselves to other people? How would we show our social status to obtain the treatment we want or deserve from others? Would we feel comfortable just being who we are and not having to show off what we have (materialistically speaking)? And more importantly, what in the WORLD would we spend all of our hard-earned New York dollars on?!”

Erica Simone
New York City, NY
www.ericasimone.com

To read more of her text, view her “Nue York Portraits” and cast your vote, visit: www.artistswanted.org/ericasimone

So, will I take advantage of this year’s winter sales? Maybe not. Maybe I should take Erica’s lead and go “nue?”

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Don’t forget, all those interested in joining me for 10 sessions/10 weeks of Pilates with Annie Venier beginning this Friday, January 8th at 5 p.m. at “Le Petit Studio Bis” to get your spines in line and tighten up those maddening middle muscles, contact Annie by emailing [email protected] or call 06.98.12.64.18 and be sure to tell her I sent you. (Depending on the final size of the group, the cost is between 20€ and 30€ per session.)

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