UPDATE: I survived the 2013 Old Navy flip-flop sale and lived to write about it

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comJune 28, 2013 

Saturday, June 29, is the $1 flip-flop sale at Old Navy. The Columbus Park Crossing location opens at 7 a.m. Saturday. Solid flip-flops are $1. There’s a limit of five pairs per purchase, but an employee at the Columbus store told us you can get in line as many times as you’d like.

UPDATE: I braved Saturday's sale and lived to write about it. Here's a recap of my experience.

It took me approximately one hour and 32 minutes to buy five pairs of flip-flops Saturday morning at Old Navy.

I got in line at the Columbus Park Crossing location at roughly 10:28 a.m. It was slightly later than my arrival goal, but I ran a 5K race earlier in the morning and ended up hanging out at the post-race festivities longer than expected.

In retrospect, the 5K race helped me unleash a lot of the frustration I would have otherwise unloaded on fellow shoppers. But I sincerely apologize to the people who had to tolerate my post-race body odor.

Yes, I sacrificed a shower for the experience.

As expected, I had to wait in a line of probably 30-40 people simply to get inside the store. This phase of the process was relatively painless and only lasted 10-15 minutes. While in line, I encountered a woman who said she was outside the store at 6:30 a.m. The sales were so good, she was apparently coming back for more.

Now that's extreme.

People outside entered as shoppers exited the store. Of course, there was a friendly Old Navy employee outside managing the process. Outdoor conversation often focused on phrases like "wow, I can't believe I'm doing this" and "the line inside is even longer!" Despite those sentiments, I never saw anyone get out of line.

Once I got inside, I made a beeline for the flip-flops. From a strategy standpoint, I figured it would be easier to pick through the giant cardboard boxes rather than the comparatively limited selection hanging on the wall. My only regret? The wall boasted a wider selection of colors.

Nonetheless, the sheer depth of the box was intriguing. I fantasized about hurling my whole body inside and bathing in the glory of $1 footwear. OK, that didn't happen.

I picked my five pairs quickly: brown, blue, fuchsia, black and silver. I would've preferred hot pink over the brown but I noticed the length of the line and realized I was operating on borrowed time. I did, however, grab a pair of $10 running shorts before preparing for the long haul.

The checkout line stretched nearly to the store's entrance and wrapped around the shopping space. I took my position and prepared to wait. Fortunately, like last year, I had some very nice people immediately behind and in front of me.

I spent the bulk of my shopping experience in this line. That's when I reflected on my lessons from this year's experience.

First, nobody is exempt from the five-pair limit.

Apparently, some people believed otherwise -- enough to make an employee give a friendly announcement about the policy midway through my experience. Yes, I did have a twinge of compassion for the people who arrived alone in hopes of buying dozens of flip-flops in a single in-and-out trip. But come on, folks. I specified the limit in Saturday's Ledger-Enquirer. Another reason to read your local newspaper.

Also, if I ever have children, I'm still deciding if I'd enlist their assistance in my sandal-gathering efforts.

It's a common strategy: bring your five kids to the store and have them each individually purchase five pairs of flip-flops. It's one thing to ask a teenager for help. But when your kid is buying flip-flops without fully understanding the concept of a $1 bill...that's intense.

And really, how many pairs of flip-flops does the average person need?

I had a quasi-meltdown once the cash register was in sight. I realized I devoted nearly two hours of my Saturday to buying shoes that I'll wear primarily to walk my dog. And not even year-round.

Wasn't there more to life than this? Wasn't it time to experience life, rather than wasting time waiting in line?

Probably, but I didn't want to risk it. I eventually reached the cash register, paid my money and exited the store.

This year's experience took longer than last year's effort. When I entered my car, exhaustion trumped any sense of accomplishment. But as I summarized the experience to a friend via text message, I realized I wouldn't have it any other way.

My new flip-flops are still in the bag and I'm not sure when the first pair will make its debut. I bet the moment will generate all sorts of unique emotions.

Like the crippling sensation of someone stepping on your bare toes.

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