Home >> Thoughts >> The ELC sale – Love it or Hate it

On Wednesday, I was out with my friend and she told me that ELC was going to have a sale! MF loves their stuff, and at their sale in March, I managed to buy some ELC toys at huge discounts.  So I was really excited that they were having a sale again.

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I went to their facebook page and saw photos of some of the sale items. I was totally thrilled when I saw the Thomas train table and kitchen sets, because those were MF’s favourite toys.  Every time I bring him to indoor playgrounds like Royce and Hokey Pokey, he would spend hours at the train tables and kitchen sets.  Usually, they cost a bomb.. But ELC advertised them on huge discounts!

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I made plans to go early in the morning on the first day of the sale with my friend who wanted to get this really nice doll house for her daughter (made me wish I had a daughter!).

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I had it all planned out.  I asked my hubby to lend me the car for the day so that I don’t need to pay for delivery.  I planned to reach there by 9am (an hour before the sale started), strap MF into the stroller and entertain him with the iPad while waiting for the sale to start, go in to grab the Thomas train table and Diner Wooden Kitchen set and any other random stuff that catches my eye, pay and let MF jump on the trampoline.  After that, I would load all my purchases onto the stroller, push it back to the car and head home happily.

As it turns out, things never go as planned.  I was all ready to leave home at 8.30am.. But I looked down at the carpark and realized my hubby forgot to leave the car behind!! He had driven it to work, with the stroller inside. I thought of taking the MRT down, I would still be able to reach by 9am, but no way I could handle MF, a 6-month pregnant belly and all the shopping without a stroller and car.

Somehow, lady luck was on my side and my parents called me at that time to ask me if I wanted to go out together. So I asked them to go to the sale with me.  However, they didn’t  know how to get there, so I had wait for them to come all the way from Bukit Panjang to Yishun to pick me up, then go from Yishun to United Square together.  Knowing I would reach super late and worried that I would not be able to get my hands on the good stuff, I quickly messaged my friend to ask her to help me grab the Thomas train table first.

I finally arrived at United Square at 9.50am and the queue was ENORMOUS.  I joined the back of the queue and looked inside the sale, staring particularly at the Thomas train tables on display.  At 10am, they allowed the first batch of people into the fair and immediately someone grabbed one of the train tables.. My heart sank. But it must have been my lucky day.. Because my friend was not far behind and she quickly grabbed the other train table. Notice I said ‘THE OTHER’, because according to my friend, there were only TWO train tables available.  TWO!

And then, things started turning ugly.  My friend enquired about the doll house and kitchen sets, and the staff told her the stock has not arrived yet.  So obviously, being one of the first few inside, she asked if she could reserve first.  Logically, if your stock was going to be coming later in the day, you should allow people who came early to make a reservation for the items to be fair. But the staff said they were not taking reservations, because they did not know when the stock would arrive.

Next thing we knew, ELC posted the following on their facebook page at 10.28am, half an hour after the sale started:

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OOS (out of stock)?! What do you mean out of stock?? There was no stock to even begin with!! So obviously, in this age of social media, the people who were among the first to enter the fair were very quick to comment that there was never stock to begin with.  ELC should think twice before LYING that the items were OOS without considering the backlash. Someone who was there since 8am said there were only 2 of the Bosch kitchen sets (which obviously the first person into the fair would snap up) and none of the wooden kitchen sets were ever available. The doll house was never available either. Then another person posted that when she questioned the staff, she was told there was ‘miscommunication with the warehouse’. It wasn’t clear what the miscommunication was – that they posted photos of the wrong items on the facebook page? Or the stock was somewhere in the warehouse and haven’t arrived, like what they told my friend?

Personally, I think the miscommunication excuse is rubbish. If you genuinely made a mistake and posted the wrong sale items on the facebook page, you should quickly apologize for the mistake.  People took leave from work and came early and waited for hours for sale items that were non-existent.  Surely they deserve an apology? There is no need to LIE that the items are OOS.

So of course, people didn’t buy into their excuse.  There were two main speculations going around:

1) The sale items were a ruse to get people excited and go down for the sale.. And hopefully when they are told the item they wanted was ‘out of stock’, they would buy other stuff since they were already there.

2) There was limited stock, but the staff members had bought them for themselves and/or their friends even before the door of the sale was open to public, that’s why it is OOS.

Either ways, people were angry and ELC never issued a proper explanation about the missing stock.

Things started getting uglier when the queue for the cashier grew and grew and became stagnant.  I am not kidding, it was not crawling, it was STAGNANT.  I managed to get into the fair at 11am. There was already a loooooong queue for the cashier inside, so my mum decided to queue for the cashier first while I shopped. After I walked one round and picked up all the stuff I wanted, my mum was still at the same spot. MF started getting restless, so I brought him outside to run around, found a friend in the queue outside waiting to enter and chit-chat with her, about an hour later I went back to find my mum still at the SAME spot! Okay, maybe she moved a few steps forward, but that was it. I am NOT exaggerating, it was that bad. According to my dad, who went to see what the cashiers were up to, basically there were only two cashiers to handle the hundreds of people, each buying a mountain load of toys. And there were customers in front, buying on behalf of all their friends, who wanted separate receipts for their various friends’ items.  So they were standing at the cashier and sorting out their mountain of toys into separate packs, and the cashier just stood there and waited instead of serving subsequent customers first. They clearly couldn’t be bother with the fact that the queue for the cashier was getting insanely long.. And since people couldn’t pay for the purchase and get out, they couldn’t let more people in and the queue of people waiting to enter the fair also started growing.

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I snapped the above photo of the cashier queue with my phone, so forgive the blurriness. Basically the cashier is at the top of the photo, and the queue runs around the outermost lane of the fair, then started winding into the inner lanes, until all the lanes were basically filled with people queueing up for the cashier.

So my mum patiently queued and I went around the fair to snap photos of the stuff to show to my friend outside and told her to give up queueing to come in, I would buy the stuff for her. At 1pm (after 2 hours of queueing for the cashier), it was time for the kids to have lunch, so my parents continued queueing while I left to find lunch for MF together with my friend (who has also given up queueing to go in). After I settled MF’s lunch, at about 1.45pm, I went down to the fair again to take over the queueing so that my parents could go for lunch. But according to my dad, the queue was moving much faster after they changed the staff at the cashiers. So I just queued with them to the end, and indeed, it was moving a lot faster and at 2pm, we were finally out! In total, we queued for 4 hours: 1  hour to go in, 3 hours for the cashier!

And since we (my friend, my parents – who kept picking up stuff for my niece and nephew along the way while queueing – and I) had spent more than $200, we went back to the fair after lunch to let MF jump on the trampoline.

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Honestly, although MF had lots of fun on the trampoline, I think they should just do away with it in future.  Firstly, hardly anyone brought their kids along (which was a totally smart move).. Even if they did, the kids probably gave up waiting and went off to somewhere else already (seriously, which kid would have the patience to queue for 4 hours?!).

And so… For my 4 hours of effort, these are the stuff I went home with, totaling less than $200! Super happy.. Mainly because I managed to get the Thomas train table.

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And boy, is MF happy or what?

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Oh well… I guess seeing him happy makes it all worthwhile.

Anyway today (the second day of the sale), I was at Hokey Pokey and saw the staff coming back from the ELC sale.  They said the queue for the cashier was terrible, so I guess ELC didn’t make much improvement in this area.  They also said there weren’t much stuff left to buy.  But still, they came back with large shopping bags.. Typical. Oh well… ELC sale, you can love it or hate it, but we all still end up being suckers for it.

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