There are three types of people who go to the annual Tatty Devine sample sale in East London:
- The early-starters – the ones who get there at goodness knows what time in the morning (or even the night before) and seemingly never leave the hall…
- The late-morning queuers – the ones who get there just before the doors open and lose all feeling in their legs as the morning goes on
- The afternoon browsers – the (sane) ones who don’t want to spend the whole morning in a queue so get there in the afternoon when everyone else has collapsed, and somehow manage to pick up dream pieces regardless
If you’re in the top two groups of people, you need to show serious commitment. This not for the faint-hearted – there’s rain, sun, and everything in between. If you want the good stuff, you need to get there early and be prepared to queue.
I’m firmly in the second group. Whilst I admire those who get there before the sun rises, I could never spend hours camped out on the floor outside St Hilda’s East Community Centre – I love Tatty Devine, but just not enough for sleeping bags and camping chairs.
I got to St Hilda’s East at about 9.15am and there was already a healthy number of people in the queue. I put my headphones in (Editors – The Blanck Mass Sessions) and prepared myself for a long wait. Over the course of the three hour queue (yes, three hours), we shuffled and shivered along slowly. I survived the freezing cold wait by thinking about the Dum Dum doughnuts I’d reward myself with when I was done, and also by wondering if my knees would ever allow me to sit down again.
At 12.30, I was inside the hall and greeted with half a dozen tables stacked full of acrylic jewellery goodness. We’d heard that there had been bags for sale as well, but they had long gone. I then don’t know what happened to me – I think I must have fallen into some kind of fugue state as I didn’t emerge from the hall until 2pm.
I do remember saying to myself on a number of occasions that I had finished my selections, only to go around the room for one last lap and find more stuff. Both a curse and a blessing – there are frequent drops of new stuff from staff and customers who are putting back unwanted items. At one stage, I was literally in the queue to pay when I saw someone put a pink lobster down, so I went around the room again to see what else had been given up. You can understand why people don’t want to leave – there is a huge element of fomo and thinking that your dream piece might be just about to arrive in the room.
But when I did eventually leave/escape/come to my senses, I was very happy with my purchases – I spent way more than I had planned to, but I really couldn’t bring myself to put anything back. Really looking forward to my June payslip though.