It’s 5:30 am on July 20, and our MacKenzie-Childs campus in Aurora, New York, was bustling with more activity than usual. Instead of just the resident geese taking their morning dip and stretching their wings wide to greet the day, our employees were bustling back and forth while a line, steadily growing, snaked around the building.

While the sunlight highlighted the early-morning mist over the fields and gardens, the trill of bagpipes filled the morning air. And suddenly we were officially in full swing for our 2017 Barn Sale. The event boasts deep discounts and brings together MacKenzie-Childs fans from across the country. On the surface, the deals are the appeal of the Barn Sale, but deep down it’s about so much more than that.

Instead of a frenetic, deals-obsessed crowd like you’d see on big retail days like Black Friday, for fans of MacKenzie-Childs it’s about meeting and sharing a love of design, pattern, and a rich sense of tradition and history. In fact, many people are repeat visitors—planning vacations, day trips, and girls’ weekends away around the sale.

Nancy and Pam of Buffalo, New York, rented a coach bus and have been coming for the past five years. “It’s our annual tradition! This year we came in a group of twenty. We sip Baileys and coffee in the morning, study the MacKenzie-Childs catalogs on the drive in, shop the sale, and then we all pile back on the bus for cocktails, lunch, and games on the ride home,” they said.

The atmosphere, even when waiting in line, is jovial and downright upbeat, which says something given the heat and humidity of upstate New York in mid-July. With strangers introducing themselves to one another, holding spots in line when bathroom breaks are needed, and chatting about their history with the brand, people become friends as they inch toward the sale. But it’s especially fun to see groups of women who have been best friends for years come to the sale.

Pushing an impressively sized cart—with an even more impressive spread of food—Mary, Lucille, and Carlene have been friends for the past twenty-five years. They met when they were all working at a hospital together. “We’ve been coming for the past three years and we always bring a spread. We have fruit, some Camembert cheese, French bread, salami, and of course, mimosas,” they explained. “We enjoy all coming here together, but once we get into the sale, it’s every man for themselves!”

The creativity of the sale-goers is on full display, with families and friends dressing up in matching outfits or donning custom-made, MacKenzie-Childs-inspired accessories like hats. Often, people who travel make an entire weekend of it—not only coming to the sale, but staying nearby and spending time in the towns that surround Aurora.

“This is our seventh sale. We’re best friends. We like to say we’re twins, actually,” said Lauren and Kristen of Reading, Pennsylvania. Every year, they coordinate their outfits and add handmade MacKenzie-Childs accessories. This year it’s pretty taupe dresses with hats wrapped in a Courtly Check ribbon and faux flowers. The accessories serve as more than a fashion statement: “It helps us find each other in the crowd,” the two women explained. “Every year we get crazier and crazier with our sale purchases. We leave our husbands and kids at home and just take the weekend to visit the wineries and explore Ithaca.”

Stopping and looking around thoughtfully at the crowded line of people and the MacKenzie-Childs employees walking around with as much purpose as worker bees in a hive, the two women paused and then said, “Someday we’ll be little old grandmas still making our way up here together every summer. We can’t imagine our lives without this sale.”

We can’t either, ladies!

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