After a long day of work, I checked my Twitter timeline to see it completely flooded with Kanye West retweets.
“21 PABLO STORES WORLDWIDE THIS WEEKEND LOCATIONS HERE,” the Tweet said at 6:05 p.m., causing a complete frenzy and starting dozens of arguments as to who deserved the title of “Kanye’s biggest fan.”
The link in the Tweet lead to a map of temporary stores that would sell The Life of Pablo merchandise for thirsty fans and greedy resellers to get their hands on. But only certain cities would be lucky enough to be touched by Yeezus himself, and luckily, Miami was among the blessed locations.
It wasn't the ideal weekend to do this. To start, Miami's still hot enough to melt Kim Kardashian back into the puddle of plastic from which she was made. Also, Zika is in town, and it looks like it's here to stay. But Kanye fans (like Kanye himself) are both passionate and irrational. So, the 92-degree Miami weather did not stop West’s groupies from halting traffic in all directions leading toward the Design District. The line, which carried on for about three blocks, contained kids, hypebeasts, mothers, babies in strollers, and grandparents all eager to get their hands on an overpriced shirt.
The average wait time to spend your life savings on one of those overpriced Gildan T-shirts — printed with various Kanye lyrics and references in Old English font — was about an hour and a half, if you were lucky. “The first person in line was here at 1:00 a.m.,” said Officer Herrera, who was holding down the front of the line. “He was stretched out on a cot,” shouted another fan toward the middle of the line. That fan and his girlfriend weren't quite on a 1 a.m. level of Kanye craziness, but they had been waiting since 7:00 a.m. because he was, like 99 percent of the people in line, “Kanye’s biggest fan."
The sun, as Miami sun tends to be, was unrelenting and sizzling. Eventually, sweaty security guards brought out umbrellas and small gulps of water for those waiting in line and risking heat stroke for a damned $75 dollar T-shirt with some words by Ye on it.
As the doors opened, an ultra light beam (I’m not even lying) blinded me while I walked into the completely white venue that held the coveted merch. “Here’s what’s on sale,” said a chick working the pop-up. She handed me a sharpie and a small card that had each item for sale pictured along with the corresponding prices. Those prices ranged from the $45 black or white dad cap with the word “Miami” on the front in the TLOP font to the $350 green military jacket which was about as useful in this Miami heat as a bobsled. The collection included short-sleeve tees, long-sleeve tees, crew-neck sweatshirts, hoodies, hats, and bomber jackets.
About 20 people were allowed in the store at a time as Desiigner’s “Tiimmy Turner” played in the background. Folks wandered around, looking at the measly four displays' worth of clothing Kanye had to offer. When customers finally settled on an article of clothing, they circled their picks on the card and handed it to a sales associate, who would then sprint upstairs to fetch your own little piece of Kanye. “This really helps with loss prevention,” said another girl at the door, though she wasn't the one charged with sprinting up and down stairs for eight hours. And since there was barely anything to see or touch in the temporary store, I’m assuming that theft was less of a threat than an employee having a stroke on her 78th stair sprint.
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Finally, I headed over to the register to see if people were actually buying this shit, and, in fact, they were. “I rang up over 200 people yesterday,” said the cashier. “And we opened late. About 520 people came, and we’re expecting almost 1,000 today,” he said.
Outside the doors, a small group of kids gathered in the street to show off what they bought with their parent’s money. “I got a hat,” one kid shouted. “Oh, yeah? I got the limited teal ‘I Feel Like Pablo’ tee,” shouted another kid. They came, they waited, and now they can show off their very own Kanye fashion when the rapper comes to Miami September 16.
But don't worry. If you missed out — or didn’t feel like waiting in that horrid line — you can always catch the leftovers on eBay.