Saturday, 18 January 2014

A different kind of Lucky Pack post

Pre-New Years Lucky Pack/Fukubukuro Report

Lucky packs are a must for the thrifty/stingy/budget lolita shopper.  Since this post is a little different than my other posts and there are already so many good sources of descriptions for what LPs are, I'll keep the description to the bare basics.  If you are already familiar with what these are, please feel free to skip right to the bottom to see the report itself.

Fukubukuro (福袋) are often known as "lucky packs" in English.  These are essentially discounted grab bags.  In Japan, the new years traditions include clearing out old clutter for a fresh start.  Similar to spring cleaning in the west, this tradition is not only present in the home, but vastly shared in businesses as well.  Many retail shops will bundle up old merchandise and overstock in mystery grab bags and sell them at a significant discount.  Stores ranging from convenience stores to drug stores to high end fashion stores will partake in this practice, and over the years, these lucky packs have become so popular that many variations have come into existence including lucky packs that contain items which are produced solely for these packs (usually done by stores/brands that are confident that their packs will sell out) and lucky pack vouchers that can be exchanged for your choice of products (often used for food).

In the lolita world, lucky packs usually come in one of two forms, dead-stock lucky packs and specially made lucky packs.  Dead-stock lucky packs will contain items from the brand that were previous sold as regular stock whereas specially made lucky packs contain items which were produced for the sole purpose of being sold in lucky packs.  In both of these cases, the contents may be announced in advance or may be a complete mystery.  The value they contain will usually be 3-5 folds of the tag price of the lucky pack.  Some brands will promote their packs with phrases like "10 500yen lucky packs: contains over 35 000yen in items".  In the case of specially made for lucky pack contents, you have to take this with a grain of salt since the items were never sold at retail prices, so the tag price of each item do not have an original retail price to reflect.

Stemming from a New Year tradition, lucky packs usually go on sale at the beginning of January with the New Year; however, as my friends and I discovered, some stores may put a batch up for sale early without any prior notice.  Below you will find my casual report of our discovery of this anomaly as I finally achieved my ultimate lolita/shopaholic vacation this year, a lucky pack shopping trip!  I think it's now shifted from ultimate goal to annual addiction.

I'm a massive fan of big cities, so luckee_cookie and I stayed in Tokyo as per usual.  Our hotel was in Shinjuku, a short stroll from Marui Annex and just a couple of stops away on both the JR Yamanote line or on the Metro from Harajuku.  We decided to plan our New Years so that we could hit up as many stores in the area as possible.  This meant that between Jan 1-3 we would be going to LaForet and Takeshita Dori in Harajuku, ALTA and Marui Annex in Shinjuku and finally Vivre in the neighbouring city of Yokohama.

BUT FIRST, we found LPs at Marui Annex in Shinjuku on Dec. 28th! =O

We landed at Narita in the afternoon of Dec 26 and spent out first day in Asakusa/Akihabara on the east side of town before relocating to a hotel in Shinjuku on the afternoon of the 27th.  This was done so we could be sure that we would be settled in by the time New Years rolled around since we had plans to arrive early to wait in line on both Jan 1st and 2nd.  Yeah...we're bad shopaholics... OTL

Since our hotel was so close to Marui Annex (actually slightly closer than Marui One's location), we wanted to check it out for pre-New Years sales/notices and pick up some Meta LPs since we knew that Meta had released them as "winter LPs" instead of as "New Year LPs".  Not much luck on sales or notices, but the sight that greeted us was very different from our expectations. Many stores had LPs up for sale already even though it was only the 28th!

(Please excuse the odd blurriness.  I had to sneak these pictures on my phone and the pot lights at Marui somehow gave everything a "soft focus" look.  Odd lighting effect on an old phone camera or perfect lighting for lolita shopping heaven?)

Meta had their Winter Happy Packs splayed out all over a little 2 tier table right at the front of their space.  The shop bags are translucent and there were a couple of girls shuffling through the pile trying to get a better view of the skirt print by pressing down on the plastic.  I was kind of afraid to follow their example until a shop girl came over and helped us do exactly that in order to find the packs with the prints most suited to our tastes.  Thanks to her efforts, luckee_cookie and I both got the exact skirts we wanted (Swan Lace and Royal Rose respectively for her and myself) to go with blouses in our preferred colour.  I don't think they restocked the LPs for New Years because I saw them bring out a few more shortly after we moved to the next store, but the number was steadily dwindling until Jan 2nd when there were only 3 left on the table (all Magical Painting prints in beige).  They also had a JSK LP (kind of hidden from view here, but they brought it out on a clothing rack for New Years) for 15,750yen which contained a JSK with the Flower Bottle print series and accompanying goodies.  You got to pick which of the 3 JSK styles you wanted in that pack as all 3 styles had samples out on display.  It was similar to how they did the Honey Picnic dress LPs a few years back (if anyone still remembers that), but the store allowed extra flexibility than when order online just like how the skirt LPs let us pick the print in stores, yet that would not have been possible for online purchases.

The Baby the Stars Shine Bright store was right across the aisle from Meta and as you can see from the picture, they had the 8400yen Variety Lucky Set out.  It was in actuality, a dead stock LP and quite the value for that cost!  There's only one lonely pink bag in the picture, but what you don't see is that they only had 2 out on display at any given time and when those were bought by customers, they'd bring out 2 more.  A method to keep the stop looking neat or a method to prevent scalpers from buying all the LPs in one swoop?  Maybe both.  I passed on this one because seeing this pack made me realize that maybe...

Alice and the Pirates still had variety sets available!  I was so excited when I noticed the "8400yen Happy Pack" sign poking through the displays and racks in the shops and made a bee line for it!  This was one of the packs I had seen online and wished fervently that I would be able to find in Tokyo since purchasing them online was not an option for me (I've had too many experiences getting slammed with customs fees on packages from Baby/Aatp to not fear purchasing directly from them).

There were 4 packs in the treasure chest initially, but 2 girls in lolita had walked by it ahead of me and each of them took one, so my picture is a little empty.  I quickly called luckee_cookie over to make sure that we could grab the remaining bags, but before she even caught up, one of the shop girls opened a box containing a large supply of extra bags and refilled the chest, hahaha.  Panic set aside, we carefully weighed each bag and grabbed the ones that we hoped held the best swag within.luckee_cookie (who wears more sweet and otome) took one and I grabbed 2 (because I love pretty much anything AatP makes).  I was concerned that they would not allow me to buy two at once, but the shop girls just happily rung up both packs for me and asked if it was okay that I just carried them as is since the shopping bags they had would not fit the totes.  If only I had known at the time that all the LPs contained the same items, hahaha.  We wound up with identical items for the 3 LPs we picked up at AatP and all of them contained 2 different bonnets, so we had a mound of LP bonnets in the end.  They had accidentally included duplicates of a bonnet in one of my packs, so I had 3 of the same bonnet from my LPs alone!

I didn't see any signs of the BtSSB or AatP for LP print JSK sets though, but I stayed hopeful that those were being held in reserve for New Years.  I really wanted the AatP Paysage of Briar Rose Rabbit JSK and high collar blouse set.

The last of the stores we came across on our rounds at Marui was Angelic Pretty.  I'm not usually into the sweet style, but all the Wonder Queen goodies drew me in like a moth to a flame.  Wonder Queen on the table, Wonder Queen on the racks and Wonder Queen even on 2 shoppers browsing the store.  I wound up taking a pass at Wonder Queen and the Radiant Candlelight items since they didn't have my preferred colourways or preferred items, but being the LP addict, I couldn't pass up a chance at an AP LP.  I knew about the Candy Sprinkles LPs, but thought it was unlikely that this was it (too small to contain a JSK, blouse and purse), but I had also seen the announcement for the Day Dream Carnival Twilight Set, so I hoped it was a Marui special set (although the low price made that seem rather unlikely).  I could see a little through the plastic just like the Meta LPs and saw that it was a blue colourway, so I just went for it.  It did turn out to be a set, though of an older, but still sold in stores print and it contained an OP, barrette and mini-tote.  Not bad for just 10,500yen, not bad at all.  These LPs didn't last long and were sold out before we even left the store.  I think everyone was more or less on the same wavelength as myself, knowing that the value of the contents would definitely not disappoint.

There were also LPs available at the h. Naoto sub-brands store and they were for Gouk, Mint Neko, Kunikuni and h (which I assumed was a mixture of Gramm, Sixh, Anarchy and Heaven since those were the remaining sub-brands carried in this store) all ranging from 13,125yen to 15,750yen.

One last LP that was up for sale prior to New Years was Excentrique.  Sadly, when we made it to Marui Annex on the afternoon of the 28th, the Happy Pack sign at the shop already had a "sold out" sticker pasted over it, so we weren't fortunate enough to purchase one.

At the end of the day, luckee_cookie and I left with 7 LPs in total.  We were surprised and delighted to have made out with such an unexpected haul and an early start to our LP shopping.  Here's the content post of Luckee's LPs.

Please stay tuned for the actual New Years LP report which will be posted...eventually... OTL

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