The first time I had ever heard of a sample sale was in the Shopoholic book series (it's a fun series, I recommend it for some light reading). The main character is visiting New York from London when she hears there is a sample sale that day. "What is a sample sale?" she asks. The women go on to tell her it's the most fabulous thing in the planet. You go to this secret location where designers' collections from last season are all on sale by a huge percentage. The catch? You have to fight the other women around you for the one or two items to chose from.
Well, I went to my first sample sale last Thursday with my friends Jessica, Leighanne and Meredith. We all bought the "VIP" tickets, which were $20 and included early entry into the sale, plus a gift bag, and were buy-one-get-one free so we only ended up paying $10 each. I heard about it because I'm on the mailing list for WWD (Women's Wear Daily). I'm usually annoyed by their constant "breaking news" e-mails, which basically just tell me which designer's profits have fallen. But this one had "MARC JACOBS, DVF AND OTHER DESIGNERS UP TO 80 % OFF!" as the headline, so of course I clicked on it.
It seemed more civilized than other sample sales and I figured it would be a fun experience. I didn't go into it actually thinking I'd buy anything. The doors opened at 5 for the VIP people, so Jess and I got in line around 4:30. Meredith and Leighanne couldn't get there till 6. By 4:30 the line was about half way down the block. At 5 I heard it was around the corner. But we were early enough to have about a half an hour of push-free shopping.
The whole Marc Jacobs and DVF shoutout was a bit far-fetched since there was probably about five items total from the two designers. But there was some really cute, cheap stuff to chose from and I ended up buying a white button-down shirt dress and a tan sleeveless bubble dress for $45 total. Not bad, right? Unfortunately for Meredith and Leighanne, it was an all-out war by 6:00 and they couldn't get by the masses to find anything. Oh well, now we can all say we've been to a sample sale. One more experience you can only get in New York.