Retail

Behind Bergdorf Goodman’s $500 Paper Bag

Every year, millions flock to Manhattan in December to see the windows on 5th. But by the end of January, the displays are down, and the stores that sponsor them have an odd problem: What to do with all that one-of-a-kind merchandise when it is no longer needed?

Bergdorf Goodman is doing what one might expect a retailer to do; it took its magical windows and sold them in a “twist on the traditional New York sample sale.”

Deep within a warehouse in Queens, the array of odd and unusual treasures awaited eager shoppers: a menagerie of leather animals, an old-time strongman carnival game, an antique picnic basket, a traffic light, a resin penguin made to look like an ice sculpture, a crated replica of the USS Constellation, rows of chairs, stools and some dining sets in various iterations of used.

These goods were not cheap — a pair of paper bags styled to resemble Chanel shoulder bags were priced at $500 apiece. If $500 seems an unreasonable price to pay for paper, there was also a more affordable paper drum from an Alice in Wonderland display for $300. Or — and this a couple actually bought — a life-size, papier-mache Humphrey Bogart for a very reasonable $150. That was not the best deal on offer. That seems to have gone to a $35 vintage Electrolux vacuum, which, it should be noted, did not actually work.

As for those Chanel paper bags? Bergdorf Goodman declined to comment on whether or not they had sold. If buyers had managed to hold off until the sale’s last day, they might have been able to pick the bags up for slightly cheaper — prices were marked down an unreported amount, and customers took home an additional 10 percent at the POS.

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