I’m a Disney dork and a die-hard New Yorker. I go dizzy happy when these worlds collide and I get to experience Mickey magic here in the Big Apple.
So it will come as no surprise that my heart skipped a beat when I heard that the ultra chic Manhattan department store Barneys New York would be featuring Disney characters and merchandise in its holiday 2012 promotions, called Disney Electric Holiday.
Barneys is located on Madison Avenue at 61st Street, in the heart of the City’s poshest shopping district. I’m handy with a credit card and thrilled to paw the racks at Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and even tony Henri Bendel, searching for marked down Tori Burch flip flops and DKNY sweaters.
But I must confess that I’ve always been intimidated by Barney’s stock of exclusively over-the-top luxury brands sold at over-the-top luxury prices. To illustrate the vibe: A few years ago, two extremely generous and fashion savvy friends took me for a birthday celebration lunch to Fred’s, the in-house cafe at Barney’s. (No, there is no Flintstone’s connection.) Seated at the table next to us was Roger Federer…on the very day after he had won the U.S. Open tennis tournament. That’s Barney’s in a nutshell.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the hoopla surrounding the Disney/Barney’s collaboration (Egads! Skinny Minnie!), there was negligible in-your-face evidence of the Disney characters in the store windows, just some bright lights, the character fashion show video on endless loop and a few $250 Vinylmations off to the side.
Throughout the store, “Disney Electric Holiday” signage pointed shoppers to shiny trinkets like $700 Manolo Blahnik kitten heels and $450 Oliver Peoples sunglasses, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with Disney. To get to the Disney merchandise and displays, you have to head all the way up to the ninth floor, next to Fred’s cafe.
The first thing you see when you hop of the elevator is a display of Disney-themed party cakes, available to order.
The cakes were darling, but perhaps not quite as elaborate or detailed as what you might expect to get for a private event cake at Walt Disney World. Prices started at $78 for a 4″ round cake and went up from there.
Next to the cakes were a display of vintage Disney toys and housewares, also available for purchase. The 1930s George Borgfeldt Mickey Mouse Sax Player Tea Set, $595.00, was adorable.
To get to the main Disney merchandise display, you have to move past video screens playing classic Disney cartoons. These are mounted on a wall decorated with line drawings of stylized Disney characters interspersed with fashion world icons.
Given the Disney Electric Holiday press, I was expecting to see a vast spread of merchandise, but only found three or four standing display racks in an area carved out of what appeared to be a coffee table book nook.
The Disney gear included a Christmas tree skirt, ornaments, hooded towels, iPhone 4/4S cases (how passé), and some pet supplies.
But the vast majority of Disney-themed merchandise was food: cookies, chocolates, popcorn, and gumballs. Here’s a taste:
Looks pretty, right? And I’m a sucker for a Minnie cookie, so I was ready to stock up on stocking stuffers.
But here’s the kicker, even by Disney standards, even by Manhattan standards, even by Disney in Manhattan standards, these goodies were priced beyond comprehension. Those individual character cookies, those 4 inch by 3 inch sugar cookies, were $15.00. Each. Fifteen dollars for one sugar cookie.
In the name of research, I did indeed purchase said sugar cookie thinking, hoping, that there was a secret to it, a hidden golden ticket, or at least some serious yum.
But nope, nada, just a dry, factory made, almost cracker-esque cookie festooned with a peel-off sugar print picture of Minnie.
Thinking there had to be something going on that I didn’t understand, I also bought the five-pack of flavored marshmallow-filled chocolates ($34.00) to share with my daughters. My 16-year-old proclaimed them to be the equivalent of “really good Mallomars.”
Okey dokey, that’s all fine, but you can buy about 100 Mallomars for what these five cookie things cost.
Other prices were: popcorn, $28; chocolate bar (7.5 oz), $28; lightbulb-shaped chocolates, box of six bite-sized, $24; four mini chocolate lollipops (4 oz total), $24; box of 16 bite sized cookies (4.5 oz total), $48; two pounds of gumballs in a plastic rainbow slinky, $58; individual chocolate lollipop (2.2 oz), $12; box of four character cookies (2.6 oz total), $55. Seriously.
I truly don’t mean to sound snarky. Again, I LOVE Disney. I happily pay premium pricing for treats when I’m in the parks. And I have no problem dropping over $1,000 for a truly special meal with my family. But I simply don’t understand who would buy these items.
The people who shop at Barneys don’t eat sweets, or rather they eat sweets in a way such that a 7-inch cake feeds 40; and the people who are devoted Disney fans probably aren’t going up to the 9th floor of a department store on Madison Avenue and paying $15 for one dry sugar cookie, particularly when they can walk a few blocks over to the Times Square Disney Store and get a rockin’ “I Mickey NY” tee for about the same price, which can be worn with pride for years.
Actually, the subset of people who are Disney fans AND silly enough to pay $15 for a cookie is probably exactly one – me – and I’ve already paid my visit to this particular mecca. Maybe these items are made for corporate giving. Maybe I’m misreading the Barneys clientele. Maybe it’s all just meant to be photographed, not consumed. Whatever the case, I’m a bit confused.
On the upside, if you do make it to Barneys to ogle the cake display, there are a few very nice things to note. First, Barneys is stepping up and pledging 25% of the retail price of all items in the Electric Holiday collection to the Red Cross for disaster relief services.
Having seen the ravages of hurricane Sandy first hand, this donation is much needed and I’m sure much appreciated.
Second, Barneys and AirFrance are running a promotion as part of the Electric Holiday. You can enter to win two round-trip business class tickets to Paris, a four night stay at Hotel Sofitel Paris le Faubourg, two tickets to Disneyland Paris, a $5,000 Parisian wardrobe, and luggage from Barneys New York. To enter, text HOLIDAY to 30644.
And if you win, don’t forget where you heard about the contest. I’ll buy you some nougat if you take me to Disneyland Paris with you
And third, off to the side of the vintage Disney merchandise is a lonely photo booth. For just two dollars, you get two strips of three photos of yourself printed with the Disney Electric Holiday logo at the bottom.
Best souvenir value ever.
So Disney shoppers, will you be shopping Barneys this holiday season, online or in the store? Do you have a take on the target audience for these luxe Disney sweets? Are you having trouble imagining the elf-sized bites that would be necessary for 40 people to share a 7 inch cake? Let’s discuss in the comments below.