There are a million and one reasons I love living in a big city: cutting-edge arts, fine dining, 24/7 energy and activity, the list is endless. But, chief among those is the fashion. And, more specifically, the shopping. There is nothing like shopping in the big city. As much as I adore picking up unique, artisan items when I’m abroad, there is one major event that small towns lack. And that is the sample sale. As you know by now, one thing that really gets me going is a one-of-a-kind item. And, aside from out of the country (where it’s not so much one-of-a-kind as it is no-one-you-know-has-the-same-thing), the two best places to find original pieces are vintage stores and sample sales. Not to toot my own horn, but I am somewhat of a trailblazer when it comes to the art of the sample sale. My mom says that sometimes she will just follow me as I wander the terrain. Because she knows that I will navigate the sale and sniff out the best items. Like a dog. But, canine-like or not, there is an art to conquering the sample sale. And, after many years, I really do consider myself quite skilled. Thusly, today and this coming Monday, I want to share some of my hard-earned skills and tricks of the trade. (I had to break the article into two parts, Pre-Sale and On the Day, when I realized that I have an embarrassing wealth of knowledge to impart.) Consider it your Sample Sale Survival Guide from the LA Survival Guide herself.
SAMPLE SALE SURVIVAL GUIDE- PART 1
1. Stay in the know.
Keep an eye on local fashion websites. Most sample sales are in Los Angeles and New York, so I’ve listed sites for both cities. A few I like are Racked, Racked LA, Racked NY, Refinery 29, Bargains LA, TimeOut LA, TimeOut NYC and WHSale.
2. Make sure you’re on the list.
Sign up for your favorite designers email lists. Sometimes this is the only way they will publicize their sale. Also, designers are beginning to have sample sales online now. They aren’t so much about the one-of-a-kind samples online as they are about major discounts on stock items.
3. Know your numbers.
Familiarize yourself with the designer’s merchandise prices ahead of time. If you’re braving the sample sale, you want to be scoring deals. If you’re semi-familiar with the retail value of item, you’ll know if you’re getting a great deal or only saving a couple of bucks.
4. Know what you’re looking for.
Have an idea of any specific items you’re seeking. For example, if I’ve been sweating a particular dress, I’m going to stalk it out the moment I’m through the doors. That being said, sometimes I just go to browse without any specifics in mind.
5. Become a stalker.
Follow the designer’s social media (ie. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as well as any applicable hashtags ahead of time for details. On occasion, there will be price or stock updates. Sometimes, there will also be posts about special deals for followers. So stalk away!
Now that I’ve given you a bit of homework, you should be well-prepared come my next post. Stay tuned next week for my Sample Sale Survival Guide- Part 2 where I’ll tell you what to do on the day.
P.S. Sample sales aren’t just for sample sizes! This is a huge misconception. Though sample sizes are pretty small, sample sales are not just for sample pieces. They are also for overstock, damages, etc. I have never been to a sale that did not have items in every size. And, if all else fails, accessories fit everyone.
Photos by Michele LoBosco