Shopping sample sales requires the same diligence as vintage shopping — you may have to search through racks of clothes before finding something worth buying, but the thrill of the hunt is worth it. Offering discounted designer apparel and accessories, sample sales give you an opportunity to elevate your wardrobe without blowing your paycheck. However, there are a few caveats — sample sales usually have a limited amount of merchandise and sizes available, they only last for a few days and, if they feature sought-after brands, come with a long line. Here are three quick tips for navigating the sample sale shopping process.
Be in the loop
The first step is to know where the sample sales are and when they happen! Sign up for free fashion alerts and weekly newsletters on chicmi.com, 260samplesale.com, samplesally.com, clothingline.com and ny.racked.com. This will save you from wandering around SoHo looking for sample sales and missing the popular ones altogether. If you have friends who intern or work for retailers and designers, they might also know when the next sample sales will be.
Know the store policy
No credit cards. No coat check. No returns. No more than X number of items. Before making your trek to the sample sale, make sure you know what you are in for. Don’t get in the line with your carefully selected pieces and your credit card, only to realize at checkout that the store only accepts cash. Leave your ego at home, make decisive purchases and remember to bring cash.
Get up early
If the sample sale starts at 9 a.m. and you arrive at 9 a.m., you’re already late. Always expect a long line — Kylie Cosmetics pop-up store long line. Sample sales are first come, first served, so it’s best to get a spot at the front of the line. Get there early to be in the first group allowed in. Prioritize finding your size, and then you can take time later to check if you missed any desirable pieces.
Throw on light basics like a white T-shirt and a pair of leggings or black jeans that have pockets for your phone and wallet. Sample sales don’t have dressing rooms, so expect to slip into that Bruno Magli dress right on the spot for easy try-ons.
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