Kylie Jenner, you have a shit-ton of dedicated fans.
On Monday, February 13, Jenner's NYC pop-up shop took over Mercer Street, first as a makeshift campground (complete with tents) and later as a mosh pit from hell.
Despite security efforts and barricades to contain the "line" of people waiting to get in, the madness spilled off the pavement and onto the streets. To most, the chaos and discomfort was a small price to shop the full range of Kylie's cosmetics and newly launched merch.
For me, someone who is not a Kardashian-Jenner super fan, it was torture. I went there because my editor asked me to. I braved the crowds with my co-worker Jessica to tell the tale. Here it is.
Based on our research of Kylie's previous pop-up, we decided to arrive at 4 am on opening day. But I scoped the storefront the day before to see how many people were already in line.
Not surprising, there were a few brave souls camped out — in the freezing rain no less. These people were fully ready to sleep on the wet ground all night, and they did.
We later learned the first girl in line arrived at 11 pm Saturday night — a full 48 hours before the opening. That's the definition of dedication.
My trip wasn't a total waste because, lucky me, Kylie Jenner arrived just as I was leaving.
An umbrella escort shielded her from the rain as a handful of people exclaimed, "OMG! Kylie! I love your outfit, you look so cute!"
When I got home, I prepped everything I needed for the next day: portable phone charger, water, snacks (banana, apple, granola bars, Triscuits, Goldfish, Pop-Tarts), hand sanitizer, and a camera.
I went to bed around 9:30 pm to mentally and physically prepare for the pop-up shop war.
Monday morning my alarm went off at 2:55 am — it was time. I got ready, grabbed my snack bag, and called a car. Jess and I both arrived at 4 am to find a line that snaked around the block.
I wore a sweatshirt, heavy jacket, beanie, and two hoods, but within one hour I was frozen to the bone. This is New York City in February, remember.
Our editor arrived with folding stools and a thin shawl that we attempted to use as a blanket. At around 6 am, the line jumped forward when people started packing up their tents. It gave us hope! But little did we know, the end was NOWHERE in sight.
We mostly thought about food and warmth while we waited. Somewhere between 8 am and 9 am, we had breakfast (Pop-Tarts) with no liquid to wash it down (for obvious reasons).
I'm a health nut but I didn't drink any liquid the entire day, because A) there weren't a lot of places to use the bathroom nearby, and B) if you get out of the Kylie line, you may not get back in.
The cold actually brought people together. This blanket didn't belong to these three huddled friends; it belonged to a high school girl we met in line who arrived around 2 am.
You see, when you're in line for 10+ hours, you automatically bond with those around you — whether you want to or not. We were all freezing, we were all miserable, but unlike my line friends, I wasn't there because I loved Kylie and NEEDED her merch and cosmetics.
I was just there. Freezing. With no hope. Only strength of will.
At the six hour mark, we tried to get creative and use each other's body heat. Every gust of wind was like a lashing from some angry ice god.
Jess wasn't writing about the store, she was just my co-pilot, so she risked it all and walked to McDonald's to use the restroom. I stayed behind.
Shortly before the 10 am opening, security herded everyone behind barricades. It was at this point that people in the back bum-rushed the line and sprinted to the front.
People who had been waiting since 3 am were now standing behind people who waltzed in at 6 am. Let me tell you how great that went over. All sense of personal space vanished. I ditched our folding stools (RIP stools) because people sandwiched me on all sides. I was a tiny grain of rice in a tightly wrapped Kylie Jenner fan burrito.
As a germaphobe, this was my worst nightmare. "But didn't all the people keep you warm?" Nah, brah.
I do want to give a shout out to the lady in the blue jacket. She stood in front of us at 4 am and took us in as one of her own. She helped us get through the crowd and eventually to the front door of Kylie's store.
Not all heroes wear capes — some wear blue jackets.
FINALLY 10 am struck and the crowd cheered! Kylie chants erupted! This was it! The end is coming! HAHA; joke's on us.
Security allowed 15 to 20 people at a time to enter, and everyone was given 20 minutes to shop. When one of the security guards passed us with a counter he was at 260 people. The bum-rush was REAL, because no way in hell were there 260 people in front of us at 4 am.
I entered a dark place. When security approached the crowd to get the next 15 to 20 people, everyone pushed each other in an attempt to get closer to the door. I texted my family for support.
The guards yelled, "Stop pushing!"
People screamed obscenities at line-cutters.
Me, I was just in pain. My back hurt from carrying my backpack. My feet stood in dirty rain puddles, avoiding a water-saturated pale green blanket that was now brown, and my muscles ached from clenching.
Co-workers checked up on us after watching our Snapchat stories. Jess and I were silent at this point. We just stood there holding each other. People beside us were encouraging others to unfollow Kylie on social media for putting us through this.
In attempts to control the crowd, NYPD and the security guards sectioned off the line into smaller groups of people. Once one small group was led to the entrance, the next small group stepped up. But one crowded group led to another. There was no "there" there.
The first thing I learned was that ALL THE MERCHANDISE ON THE FLOOR IS FOR DISPLAY ONLY.
You don't simply pick up an item and take it to the register.
You pick up an item, show it to one of the MANY employees dressed in black Kylie tees, and then they go get the product from the back and bring it to you. Then you can go to the register.
While we were shopping, the Kylie team told us to wrap it up — they had to restock. We paid for our merch (listed below) and left. Nearly 11 hours of waiting for 20 minutes of shopping.
We exited the store just after 3:30 pm. People were still lined up, some standing, some sitting on the wet, cold ground. Everyone asked us what time we had gotten in line and if it was worth it.
In my opinion, NOTHING is worth that pain and suffering — but we didn't tell them that. All we said (well, all Jess said) was that if you want the merch, go for it.
After passing all the people, Jess and I flagged down a cab and went to the "brunch" we dreamed about in line over six hours ago.
To recap: I waited in line for 10.5 hours, lost feeling in my toes, got pushed from every direction, experienced throbbing back pain, forgot how to walk, and bought over $500 worth of Kylie merchandise — and I'm not even that big of a fan.
But I said I'd do it and I did it. Mission. Accomplished.
In case you're wondering, afterward I went home, showered, and curled up on my couch under a blanket in an oversize sweatshirt until climbing into bed.
I will forever get the chills — regardless of temperature — when I walk down Mercer Street.