For the past few years, high-end purse (and other bags/accessories) retailer Harveys has brought their whimsical and beautiful merchandise to Disney Parks.
The signature look that distinguishes a Harveys bag is that they are made from seatbelt material providing a sturdy and interesting geometric striped style to their products.
I’ve been a fan of their colorful and fun bags ever since Disney first started carrying their products, however, I’ve never owned one – mostly because if I’m going to spend money on anything, it’s likely to be Alice in Wonderland-themed and until last week, the company had only made one Wonderland-themed bag – a tote-style featuring the Disneyland attraction poster on it. Since I don’t carry anything in this bag style, while I appreciated the look of it, I had no plans to buy it.
And then Harveys announced they’d be making a few new limited-release lines of Wonderland-themed bags, with an in-store sale of the items at their Santa Ana, CA location just prior to an online release the next day.
Again, I might have written this off as another group of bags that I wouldn’t carry… until I saw that one of the bags in the two collections (one themed blue and white striped for Alice and one themed pink striped for Cheshire Cat) was a Cheshire Cat backpack! And I had to go try to get one.
I arrived early to find many people in line already. The people around me seemed split between first-timers at a Harveys release (like me) and those who’d done it several times before. But since the store had set a very reasonable limit of 2 items per person and you could only get one of each style of item, I figured there was a good chance of my getting the backpack I wanted. Especially as the majority of people in line (and I mean at least 2/3rds of them!) were already carrying/wearing various Harveys bags and these leaned heavily towards the purse crowd rather than folks who would carry backpacks!
One of the fun aspects though of any collectible release – from beanies to pins to vinylmations to Harveys or anything else – is the chance to see what people collect as well as share the passion with fellow collectors. And what was great about this release – and the limits enforced at it – was that this was clearly a crowd of collectors, not re-sellers.
Because yes, just like any other limited-release or limited edition collectible, there are folks who buy these bags just to re-sell for profit. And apparently this was a big problem the day before.
As I chatted with the folks around me in line, I heard horror stories of the Harveys release that had been held at the Disneyland Resort the previous day. This release featured bags designed by artist SHAG and the theme was Star Wars. Which meant you had three groups of collectors interested in these bags – Harveys fans, SHAG fans and Star Wars fans. So the re-sellers smelled big profits in the wind and apparently turned out in full force for that release.
Part of the problem was that Disney had apparently announced a limit of 5 items per person (a very high limit already in my opinion) and instead some folks were supposedly allowed to buy 5 of EACH ITEM per person! So several people reportedly walked out of the store with 15 items each and the bags for sale quickly ran out to the great dismay of the actual collectors in the crowd who’d wanted them.
After hearing that, I was especially happy that this Harveys-controlled Wonderland release had a limit designed to please as many collectors as possible rather than re-sellers!
That said, any re-sellers who did show up probably would have had their eyes on the event-exclusive item that was being sold only at this in-store release – a Cheshire-themed coin purse. It’s apparently now very coveted – but I had no need (or funds!) to buy a $60 coin purse, so I didn’t get one (yes, Harveys products are expensive – but the quality is high as well). My priority was to get the backpack I wanted, plus whatever the promised gift with purchase would turn out to be.
Because, yes – there was a gift with the purchase of any Wonderland-collection item! It turned out to be an adorable deck of Wonderland-themed playing cards.
But the first 14 people in line also got a very special giveaway – a Wonderland-themed Mickey Mouse-ear headband! It looked to be made of material from the collection.
I would have loved to have gotten one, but I was too far back in line.
(If you’re wondering why 14 – there were five more given away earlier this month by the company in a scavenger-hunt park promotion and one of the Harveys reps was wearing another one at the event, so I’m guessing there were 20 made in total.)
In another classy move, Harveys provided free drinks (including a choice of a flavored lemonade or an adult beverage or a small bottle of water) with great themed straws.
As noted previously, one of the best parts of waiting in a collectibles line like this is the chance to talk with fellow collectors. It was wonderful to see so many people dressed in Wonderland-themed outfits or accessories, as well as getting to see a variety of awesome Harveys bags (most but not all Disney) that folks were carrying. So although it was a fairly long wait, it was a very pleasant one and the weather was mild, too.
Once the event began, the line moved very quickly as people got in and out handily with their purchases.
A table was set up with all of the items for sale that day on display – including the event exclusive coin purse.
I took a quick look at the table, wished I had money and reason to buy everything there, and then headed for the cashier to buy my backpack!
As this location is more of a showroom, the way the purchases were handled – giving a very concierge-type feeling – was that you would tell the cashier which one or two items you wanted to buy and then as they were ringing you up, a runner would go get the items and bring them out to you in a nice Harveys shopping bag.
I made my purchase, took a last look around and headed out a satisfied customer and collector – mission accomplished!
Mousertainment Memorandum: All of the Alice and Cheshire-themed items sold out their first run of merchandise within a very short time of the online release the next day – some in the first few minutes! However, there may be more released online at a later date, so all items are listed as “pre-order” in case they get restocked at some point (or have returns).
Have you bought a Harveys bag? Did you have to wait in line for a special release or purchase it online or in a parks store?
Update 8/20/16: Yesterday, the second part of the Harveys Alice in Wonderland bag collection was released. As with the first part, much of it sold out online immediately and may or may not return to their store website. Today, however, I stopped by their Chino Hills shop to see what was left in store. Happily, they still had a few items left.
I’d missed my chance to see the mini foldover as that had sold out earlier in the day, but they still had the regular foldover, the satchel, the streamline wallet (all in the new deck of cards pattern), as well as the clutch with its Queen of Hearts front and Cheshire Cat card back.
All the pieces were absolutely gorgeous. I may or may not have left the store with a new purchase!