One of my absolute favorite things to do in the city is attend sample sales. I love finding a good deal, especially on high quality items. For those of you who don’t know, a sample sale is a way for a business to get rid of extra merchandise. These days “sample sale” is used as a broad term, but originally the sales were only sample size clothes. The merchandise available is normally from a previous season, is overstocked items, or was never sold in stores.
Here are #ProTips for scoring the best deals at a sample sale:
01. Do Your Research.
There are different samples sales held around the city every week, and it is pretty easy to find out about them. You can check Racked.com, Time Out New York or just Google search for them.
- Racked has the most extensive list of every sale going on.
- Instagram is also a wonderful resource that brands will use to advertise about their sales. That’s how I found out about sales held by Jack Rodgers, SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Opening Ceremony.
- My favorites to attend are held by 260 Sample Sale. They have a giant location on 5th Avenue and then several other smaller pop up shops downtown.
02. Timing is everything.
If you are really anxious about getting a ton of the best stuff or the correct shoe sizes, then by all means, go on the very first day of the sale. I tend to wait until the last few days of the sale because the prices tend to drop down even further, but you will run the risk of the items being a little picked-over.
03. Be prepared.
- If you can, wear a dress. Often times there are no changing rooms and almost never any mirrors. So if you want to buy leggings or jeans, it is super easy to slide them on right under your dress! Bringing a friend can work just as well as a mirror.
- Come ready with cash. The 260 Sample Sales accept credit cards, but most all sales held directly by the brand only accept cash.
04. Inspect your items.
Please check for holes. One time I was at a Madewell sample sale in Soho and tried on a pair of jeans I loved but didn’t realize until I got home that there was a gigantic hole in the crotch. Thankfully, I know how to sew. But that could have been tragic.
05. Stay calm.
Sometimes I will run to a sale in between shows and will have to speed shop. Don’t get caught up in the manic energy at the sale. I am guilty of that and have purchased several items that I barely use, including a pair of maroon leggings with mesh cut outs that perfectly highlight and magnify the cellulite on my thighs. One time at a JCrew sale I purchased a black puffy vest because I sometimes wish I was a super preppy mom. I’ve only worn it once, for seven hours, on a ski trip to Vermont.
06. Be realistic.
Last year I bought a gorgeous pair of olive green SJP stilettos. I absolutely did not need them, but it was a great deal and I really wanted to own shoes designed by Sarah Jessica Parker. I have worn them exactly one time at a cousins wedding. My best sample sale purchase to date is the beautiful wool coat pictured in this post. I found it at a Scoop sample sale in SOHO marked down to $70 from $700. My friends have jokingly named it "the blue bathrobe" but I absolutely love it.
All images by Laurel Creative