With all the hoopla surrounding the William Ashley annual warehouse sale, I decided to take the plunge and see what the fuss was all about this year. Since about two years ago, my coworkers have been raving about it at this time of the year. All I’ve ever heard was that the line-ups were always so long. That, and nobody comes out empty-handed.
This past Sunday was an invitation only event for American Express holders. And seeing as it was so close to my home, all signs were leading to it already. Checking the website, it said it would open at 10am. My current coworker whom had gone previous years informed me that people would be lining up from as early as 7am and that if you go during the day, you will for sure have to wait a good 2-3 hours just to get in.
So, inviting my brother and his fiancee along, we made it a point to get there for 8:30am; an hour and a half early should do the trick. As I got there, cars were already parked on the streets just outside the warehouse. Peeking in, I noticed a line of about 20 people or so under the white tent. We decided to head to Tim Horton’s beforehand to grab some breakfast and coffee for the wait.
Upon entering the tent with our coffee and bagel in hand, we were told to line up at either the cart or box line. We thought to ourselves, carrying a box would be easier to navigate through the warehouse. And besides, how much would be buy anyway? So off we went to the box line.
At that moment, someone stood up at the podeum at the front. She said a few words to welcome the crowd that was now about 30 or so people. She said the first person to line up here today was at 7am, and on Thursday – which was their first invitation only day – was at 6:30am! She said a few words and then told us to get ready as no food or drinks were permitted inside. We looked at each other with perplexed looks since it was only 8:30am and by the sounds of it, she was letting us in already.
I quickly downed my medium double single and threw the cup in the garbage. Then another lady manning the line said that she would let the cart people in first just to get them out of the way. Strange, but fine. So the cart people merrily went in. Little did the clueless lady at the front know, that more and more people started coming in and lining up at the cart line. Everyone at the box line was just sitting there like ducks.
The lady momentarily stopped the cart line from going in. The people in front of me noticed the stupidity of all of this, and moved over to the cart line. We figured she would now let the box line go through so we just stayed. However, shortly after, she again started letting the box line go in. This was ridiculous! There’s no chance that I’m letting all these people who came after I did, go in front of me just because they chose the cart line. A little ticked off, I told her, “this is ridiculous, let us in!” and found myself just walking in regardless of what she said. Of course, she couldn’t have cared less and didn’t even stop us.
So now that the getting in was over with, I was confronted with what was to become the largest shopping spree of this year (thus far) for me! I looked around the first department, which housed some home furnishings, furniture, and some kitchen gadgets. Then it occurred to me that this was a perfect place to look for my much wanted cake stand. I looked around and even asked a staff, but she couldn’t really tell me where to go since different styled cake stands were literally scattered all around the warehouse.
It took me a while to get into the buying mode, but soon enough, I found myself putting one item from here and one item from there into my cart. From picture frames to rolling pins to glass containers to towels, my cart was filled with things that I didn’t know I needed until I saw them!
Out of everything that I bought, the most exciting thing for me must have been the cake plate, chef’s knife, and cutting board – as plain as it was.
- I was eyeing that cutting board at another store for the longest time but didn’t buy it because of the price. But since my current one was slowly getting used, and this one was in fact at the cheapest price I’ve ever seen it, I was happy with the purchase.
- Ever since my chef’s knife broke about a month ago, I’ve been on the lookout for another knife to use. My brother highly recommended I invest in an expensive knife since it will make cooking a lot easier. My gf, however, thought an inexpensive one will do just fine. So when I was perusing the selection of fine knives, a staff member came up to me and asked if I needed any assistance. I told him I was looking for a general purpose cooking knife and he immediately brought me to the WÃ¼sthof Classic Cook’s Knife. I looked at it in the package as he explained to me that this is the one knife that can do everything I need it to do, and more. I was a little reluctant at it first noticing the price of $109.00. But then everything changed when he told me, here, let me open the package so you can feel it for yourself. I took a grip at it and instantly noticed that it was by far the most comfortable knife that I have ever held in my hand – not that I have held too many, mind you ;). The balance between the blade and the handle was so perfectly aligned that I could hold the knife with ease with just one finger. Complete with a finger guard, this knife had the markings of a sold sign in my head. I noticed the Santoku designed knife sitting beside it, and enquired about it. He opened the package and let me hold that one. Hmm… not the same comfort; a little off balanced; and no finger guard… but still the same quality of knife with the Santoku design that asians are most accustomed to. It wasn’t long before I decided for the traditional knife complete with the kullens to prevent food from sticking to the knife. With an investment like this, I would naturally need to take good care of it… so I picked up a knife sharpener hoping to hone my skills in sharpening knives and getting that 20 degree angle right on. I swear, just holding that knife makes me happy I bought it!
- And finally last but not the least, my long overdue cake stand! To my dismay, there were not decent cake stands that caught my attention. Of course, I could have gone with a hand-made Waterford Crystal cake stand at an insane price, but no. I managed to find a half-decent cake plate that I wasn’t too crazy about at first but thought that it would do the job well. As I made my final round within the warehouse, I noticed something shiny on the wall near the entrance. I had completely skipped this wall on my way in – the horror! It was a good thing I went there because sitting on that wall, was this even more beautiful plate that caught my attention immediately. I picked it up and admired the heaviness and thickness of this piece of glass. The sticker on it said Nachtmann – A Division of Riedel Glassworks. Oooh, I thought to myself, “it’s Riedel, the wine glass maker!” I admired the cut and finishing on this plate, compared it side-by-side with the other plate that I had first chosen. After a thorough and painstaking comparison, I had come to the conclusion that at $29.99 – which was a few dollars more than the other one – it was worth the cost just because of the looks alone. With 24% lead crystal, this beauty was going to display my cakes in pure shininess heaven. I loved it even more after I got home and paired it up with my commercial grade cake dome that I had bought years ago in a Syracuse restaurant supply store for US$13, and it was a match made in baking heaven. Now, I just have to bake something worthy to go in there.
With over $400 in damages, and 5 hours later, we walked out of the William Ashley warehouse sale definitely not empty-handed. I noticed the lineup was out of the tent and well onto the streets, which would have been a good 2-3 hours’ wait. To boot, I checked my receipt after I got home and noticed that the cashier missed some items! An even sweeter deal indeed.
So for all you folks wanting to get something out of the sale this year, I recommend you go as early as you can to avoid any lineups. The sale is on until December 7, and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.