Shop and survive an NYC sample sale
Here’s a secret as to how New Yorkers stay so stylish all the time –– their seemingly expensive, well-made clothes were purchased at crazily discounted prices. Where from? Sample sales! In case you’re not familiar with the term, a sample sale is when fashion retailers (including designers) sell excess merchandise below retail. Sometimes pieces are the actual samples from runway shows, and sometimes the garments didn’t sell the season before. Either way, you can score some fashionable clothing at reasonable prices. If you’ve never been, here’s how to shop and survive an NYC sample sale, and manage to leave with chic, affordable finds.
Know your sale
Unfortunately, one rarely stumbles into a sample sale. You need to do your research beforehand, starting with when the sales are happening. Lazar Shopping is a great resource. If you see a sale for a designer that you like, chances are that the sale blurb will mention what merchandise will be sold. Don’t be afraid to look at the designer’s website to get familiar with his or her clothing, and look for new pieces to add to your wardrobe.
It’s always good to be an early bird, but arriving early doesn’t mean that you won’t have to wait. Depending on the designer, you may have to get in line up to two hours before the sale starts to have access before a majority of the crowd.
Wear the right “gear.”
Sample sale sizes are irregular, and it’s rare that the sale you’re entering will have a dressing room where you can try on your potential new outfit. Instead, wear a fitted shirt or tank top, leggings, and easy to put on/take off shoes. You’ll be able to try out a piece while you’re on the floor and be quick about it.
Bring cash and credit.
If you find a piece you love, you don’t want to be told at the register that you can’t use a debit card to purchase it. Know the currency rules of the sale in advance (which you can find on the sale’s information page) and bring several forms of payment just as a precaution.
Never leave your stuff alone.
It’s sad but true – once you’re inside, any merchandise is up for grabs even if you’ve staked your claim on it. If you find a shirt you love, never let it out of your grasp or sight, or you risk losing it to another customer. Once you know that you definitely don’t want the shirt, then you can part with it. What’s an easy way to not lose any potential buys? Bring your own bag. Most sample sales won’t provide a branded bag for your purchase anyhow, so bringing one into the sale with you won’t hurt.
B.Y.O. shopping buddy.
If you can, bring a friend who wants to go to the sale as much as you do. A friend grabbing items or watching your stuff (when you’re in a changing room) is an advantage. Plus, a pal makes shopping and waiting much more fun.
When in doubt, ask.
If you find something you like with a small tear or other malfunction, you can still buy it. As long ask you ask a salesperson, you may be able to get an extra discount and have a tailor fix it. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Never asking means never knowing what could have been.
Remember –– it’s okay to not buy anything.
Even if you’ve invested your time in going to a sample sale, you’re not obligated to buy anything. If you don’t find an outfit that fits your body or style, that’s okay! You’ll have plenty of time to shop sample sales in the future.