By four o’clock on Friday, a full-scale looting seems under way. There are two empty racks by the front door, one bare hanger swinging alone. Shoppers swarm by a table of pastel denim that has been mixed into a rainbow. A little farther in, Brink and Campos pass another bare rack. It’s supposed to be filled with $19.50 cotton flare vests, a light and loose vest for women, but there is just one left.
“I told you these would blow out,” says Brink. “And they blew out.”
On the second floor, there are fifteen men waiting in line for the fitting room. Campos pulls over assistant manager Deborah Ulloa and they start shifting thin stacks of vintage-wash oxford shirts around, trying to make the tables look a little fuller. The shirts are regularly $29.50, but this week they are $19.50, sitting under a sign that says promotion.
“At this point,” says Campos, “this layout is broken.”
He radios the stockroom, asking someone in the back to push some shirts onto the floor. Gesturing at a nearby rack, he taps two pairs of white chinos.
“Look at this,” he says. “There’s nothing here. We need replenishment, but we’re not getting it. I need to talk to the guys in the stockroom.” He heads through one of the doors behind the cash-wrap.
A gray-haired gentleman stands in the aisle. He has on dark-green corduroys and a blue Barbour jacket. He looks like he should be out shooting quail, but here he is, in the thick of it at Uniqlo. There are lots of gentlemen like him who wander into the store. He has a Uniqlo shopping bag in his hands, and he is trying to fold it.
“Do you want me to take that for you?” asks Ulloa.
“Oh, no,” says the man, a bit sheepishly. “I want this bag.” He rushes off with his prize.
“We get that all the time,” says Ulloa. “Sometimes people come in and just ask for a couple of bags.”
Just below, on the mezzanine, Ahmed is still unpacking and refolding jeans. There is now a big open space where the UJ slim-fit straight jeans are supposed to be. He’s been folding for eight hours, and he is nowhere near caught up.