Silly For Lilly: How My BFF Survived the Pulitzer for Target Launch

Guest Post By Marisa Coar: This tale comes from my BFF, and like all great war stories our friends tell, when I heard it my response was, ‘I wish I had been there.’ I made Marisa blog about it since I couldn’t…

Let’s just be perfectly clear–I don’t do color. Black and grey are the hues of choice in my closet. Every once in a while, I go buck wild and wear navy, but that’s really it. So when my southern gal pal Suzanne called me to tell me about the ‘Lilly sale’ coming up at Target and how she would be there at 6:30 am on Sunday April 19th, my reaction was flat.

I had no idea that Lilly Pulitzer, the high-end brand known for its Palm Beach-inspired, bright prints, had designed a one-time only, limited edition collection for the low cost mega chain. Or that this news was whipping women the world over into more of a frenzy than the movie release of Fifty Shades of Grey.

But Suzanne always shares good information, and when she told me to go to to check out the Lilly lookbook for the girls’ clothes and the accessories, I knew I had to give it a glimpse. Wow, was I impressed. Cute flip-flops adorned with starfish, golden wedge espadrilles, beach bags trimmed with colorful scarves, and sundresses in shades like aqua, coral and pineapple! Everything just made me dream about a pedicure and fun in the sun. I got all warm inside and thought I must score some of these pieces!

Yup, I was drinking the Kool-Aid, and it tasted like tropical punch.

Suzanne had some truly insider information about the online sale. It would open at 2 a.m. on the morning of the 19th. I vowed to be on my laptop by 1:50 a.m, figuring if I got ahead of the sale, then I wouldn’t have to wake up at dawn to physically schlep to my nearest Target. So 2 a.m. started crash after crash. I would fill my cart with sun-drenched goodies only to see that dreaded message:
The site is down, try again soon.

I attempted purchase after purchase. I'd rapidly fill my basket with whatever caught my eye, planning to edit later, then CRASH. NOTHING No confirmation of purchase, nothing but an empty cart. In a blink it was 4 a.m. and I thought I must go to bed. In another blink it was 6:30 and my phone was going off. Suzanne was outside, waiting to whisk me away! I tried to say no–after all I don’t do color, I don’t need Lilly. But Suzanne doesn’t take no for an answer

During our trek down to the Target in Ocean, New Jersey, Suzanne filled me in on her obsession with Lilly. Talking faster then the country two step, she briefed me that the quality of the Target line would be more like the $200 Lilly, not the $400 line. A shopping stratosphere I have not experienced nor am I willing.

We arrived at the Target in Ocean, New Jersey at 6:50 a.m and took our place in line, only twenty people deep. We knew we were as good as in. By the time the doors opened at 8 o’clock, the line had grown ‘round the bend, stretching several hundred woman wide winding all the way to Sears. Sorry sisters – y’all picked the wrong morning to sleep late. 

Suzanne–psyched about our place in line.

First Security briefed us ladies-in-waiting about the flying flamingos. ‘Look for the flamingos hanging from the ceiling and you will find the Lilly merchandise.’ Perfect. The plan was to divide and conquer. I would go for bags, our new ‘line friend’ Lindsay was on shoes and Suzanne would make a beeline for clothes. Done. We were ready to go.

The doors opened and everyone started running like mad. Already, arguments were erupting. It was worse than the best Black Friday.I skipped the shopping cart, not wanting anything to slow me down, and ran right for the beach bags, grabbing three. Then kids’ swimsuits. Done. High-five to me.

Suddenly I noticed all the Lilly goods were gone. OMG, I thought, this is nuts! This is not who I am! But Lindsay met me with flip-flops! Yay! Suzanne showed up with a cart full of clothing! Score! Then at 8:20, there was an announcement:

‘All Lilly merchandise will not be restocked. There is nothing left.’

For the first moment all morning, the store was quiet.

All the racks were empty. Floral displays and ugly green flamingos hanging from the ceiling, they were the only signs Lilly had been here. Then the wheeling and dealing began.

I was looking at groups of ladies hovering in the aisles wondering what they were doing just standing there. What could they possibly be waiting for? Hadn’t they heard the announcement? Then it started. The bartering. One lady shouted, 'Beach towel, anyone want to swap?' Another yelled, 'Dress, size large, looking for flip-flops! 'And so on and so forth it went as they tried to make trades. It was insane. I’ve never experienced anything like it.

Ladies filled their carts to barter?? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Clinging tightly to the Lilly beach bag filled with my winnings, I just watched the action. Women kept approaching me to ask, ‘Do you want that beach bag?' Why yes, actually, that is why I picked it up.

Eventually, I made it through checkout, exhausted and still in shock by what I just experienced. I thought really, will Lilly never come to Target again? Was this just an awesome advertising campaign by the brand to suck more people into the world of palm tree prints and palazzo pants? Am I now in the club–a seasoned Lilly bargain-hunter? Nah, I think I am done. Happy with my purchases, I can check 'Doing Something Crazy on an Average Weekend' off my list. On our ride home, I told Suzanne that this reminded me of when my best friend Michelle and I slept out for Springsteen tickets in '86. Something we wanted so bad we didn't care what we had to go through. Though in this case, thankfully, no one had to pee in the woods. 

Then something really crazy happened. 

Yes, that Monday night I got an email: “Your Target order has shipped.”  

What?? What order? I clicked on the email. OMG over $400 worth of Lilly was on its way to me! I was shocked. Especially since I didn't get an order confirmation during my online shopping crashfest. OMG. My husband was going to kill me. Then Tuesday I got another email. Another order was on its way. OMFG OMFG OMFG!!! How could that be? And Wednesday? Yes, a third shipment! What had I done? For being a fifty shades of black girl, I had more colorful clothes coming to me then I own in my whole wardrobe.

Now what? Maybe I could sell some of the sold-out stash to my friends at face value. That would be the right thing to do, right?

I called sweet southern Suzanne to offer her first dibs and her reply, though unexpected, was priceless. ‘Ebay,’ she said. ‘Sell it all on Ebay. Women will pay double, triple or more for that shit.'

And like that, my visions of golden beaches got swept away by the dollar signs swimming in my eyes. I may be a disciple of black and grey, but my favorite color is green.

Ebay? Hmmm, why not? Pocketing a little profit would certainly help me forget all the madness and exhaustion. That might not make me much better than the women I witnessed haggling in the aisles, but at least I would be spreading the Lilly love beyond the first twenty ladies on line.

The beachy-keen world of Lilly Pulitzer was a nice place to visit, but like most tropical third world destinations, I wouldn't want to live there. Still, I plan to keep a few of the pieces I scored for myself. You know, as souvenirs.

Marisa Coar is a literacy consultant for Harcourt School Publishers and has been my best friend for more decades than we care to count.

Don't miss a post! Subscribe by Email or find me on Facebook. And for the love of laughter, won't you please pre-order my book already?