Prepare for sample sales to avoid craze

Alyssa Vinzons/WSN

For lovers of fashion, samples sales can be both the best and the most frustrating experience. With so many showrooms and warehouses in New York City, sample sales offer shoppers great ways to score high-end products at cheaper prices. Be prepared so you can make the most of upcoming sample sales and find the products you want for less.

Sample sales used to be a way for companies to sell future products to a group of sample consumers to predict how a product would sell. Now, sample sales are hosted by retail brands as a way for them to sell slightly damaged, surplus or last season’s merchandise. Sizes and quantity are often limited, and the garments or accessories may not be in perfect condition. Sample sales can be open to the public, but for luxury high-end brands such as Prada or Louboutin, sales are usually invite-only. Prices are often lowered, as much as 95 percent off in some cases, but costs ultimately depend on the label, age and condition of the items.

More commercial and popular sales will usually be publicized in advance online. The websites, and are helpful resources that provide information about upcoming sales. The sites generally update posts to notify shoppers if a sale is sold out or if prices have been further reduced. Also, keep an eye out on social media — labels will often promote their sales on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Preparing ahead of time is key because the actual sales are often chaotic. Plan to go to the sale in the first couple of days, as opening day is ideal for the widest selection. Make sure you also have more than enough time to spend at the sale because popular brands will almost certainly have a long line. Many sample sales do not allow shoppers to try on clothes, but in case fitting rooms are available, wear easy, comfortable clothes that are easy to pull on and off. Most sales also require all bags and purses to be checked, so be ready to rely on your pockets, and bring cash in case credit cards are not accepted.

The environment at sample sales can be overwhelming. Clothes and accessories are usually in disorganized heaps or racks, and customers can be competitive and pushy. Try to sift through racks and piles efficiently. If you plan to try on an item, take as many as you can at once so you won’t need to stand in line again later.

Acting quickly when you find something you like is important, but don’t forget to carefully check the item. Inspect all merchandise for rips, tears, stains or loose threads because most likely, purchases will be final. Also, don’t forget to look at both the sale price and the original price to decide if the discount is substantial enough to buy. The purpose of sample sales is to find originally pricey merchandise at very discounted prices, so make sure the item is worth it.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Oct. 9 print edition. Deeksha Mehta is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected]