Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Sample Sale Challenge: 5 Sales in 3 Hours

I decided to take a few vacation days this week from work and,  as a result, I had a couple hours free this morning (a side effect of my biological clock telling me to wake up for work and my early afternoon flight back to Atlanta)... which brings me to:  THE SAMPLE SALE CHALLENGE.  What is a Sample Sale, you may ask dear reader?  Well, luckily for you, I have that answer!  As defined by Wikipedia, a Sample Sale is a sale event used by "retail businesses to discard excess merchandise."  As defined by Vivian, a Sample Sale is an awesome retail bonanza with by lots of beautiful people (which makes for fabulous people watching -- let me tell you), packed together to score good deals on designer clothing, in an almost feverishly competitive manner.  See below for example:

Rag & Bone Sample Sale
In my limited time in New York, I've only been able to go to two, but the purchases I made were astounding.  A $200+ Barney's Co-Op dress for $80 at the Warehouse Sale?  Yes please!  An original price $1200 Lela Rose dress at the Rent the Runway Sale for $125?  Of course!  Hence, the Sample Sale challenge was born.  The challenge?  Fit in 5 sample sales from Midtown Manhattan to the Meatpacking District within a 3 hour span from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M., prior to jetting off to make my 2:10 P.M. flight at Laguardia, without spending any money on taxis.

Now, I'd be silly if I didn't do the research beforehand.  I definitely recommend these websites/blogs for research on sales and deals of any kind going on in New York.

  • New York Magazine's Sales and Bargains page and "The Cut" blog - A great listing of ongoing sales.  While the Sales and Bargains page is a great cumulative listing of sales, "The Cut" updates their content more regularly and includes sales that the page doesn't list sometimes.
  • Daily Candy's Fashion page - Provides a monthly list of sample sales going on throughout the city from mid-range retail to high-price fashion.  The con?  You may have to dig a little just to find the post each month on the blog.  Daily Candy also has pages for most major U.S. cities.
  • - New York - Provides specific blog entries reviewing and previewing sample sales.  They include pictures and some wonderfully tongue-in-cheek commentary.  Racked also has pages for Los Angeles and Chicago.

With that, I made a list of 5 sales to check out:  1) Yves Sant Laurant, 2) Noir Jewelry, 3)  Sam Edelman Handbags, 4)  Nicholas K, and 5) Rag & Bone.  

Click onwards for the play-by-play action.  Do I make it to all the stores?  Find out by clicking the next page!

9:15 A.M. - I head down from my hotel room onto Canal Street, with a tiny piece of paper containing my itinerary in hand, over to the A-C-E subway line.  Fortunately for me, all of the sales I've picked out are all within walking distance of the A-C-E.

9:25 A.M. - The train pulls over onto the Penn Station stop.  First stop, the YSL sample sale, which I time out should take me 10 minutes before the prices deter me.  I wander down 9th Ave past the morning crowds, consisting of construction workers, girls in bold colored jeans and leather booties, and businessmen.  A small crowd of 4-5 people has gathered outside of the New Yorker building, flanked by security guards.  I'm quite sure I see Nancy Pelosi in the car out front, but I press onwards.  I've got deals to score.

9:28 A.M. - YSL at last!  The kind gentleman at the front reminds me that there's no photography allowed, not even cell phone, and advises that I take off the strap of my purse to turn it into a clutch.  No purses allowed either apparently.  I resign that I won't be able to snag pictures or be hands free.  The sale itself is fairly crowded, with girls piling on clothes and shoe boxes on top of the other.  It becomes quickly apparent that I can't afford anything since the cheapest thing is a t-shirt for $150 and thong sandals for $200.  Color me fiscally conservative, but I can't see the point in buying thong sandals for $200, when I can buy lookalikes at Old Navy for $10.  Aside from eavesdropping on some shady dealings between a hip looking Asian girl in some black fringe leather booties and a Hasidic Jewish man, I'm out of there in 10 minutes.

10:15 A.M.:  I take the subway and then walk for 15 minutes over to the Sam Edelman sale on 5th Ave. and 19th St.  It's definitely shadier looking than the last place, located in two small rooms above a narrow stairwell.  Inside, however, is glorious -- stacks upon stacks of leather goods and graphic totes.  Not to mention the prices are amazing!  $15 for leather wristlets, $35 for iPad cases, $75 for full-on purses!  Needless to say, I'm there for quite some time.

Left:  Sam Edelman Sample Sale; Right:  $15 to $35 leather wallets and wristlets.

10:38 A.M.:  Purchased good in tow, I walk about 20 minutes southeast over to the Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking District.  Rag & Bone has set up for their first day of shop over there.  Upon arriving, I see the line that looks like this and then some on the other side:

The line outside of the Rag & Bone sale at Chelsea Market.

10:40 A.M.:  I mosey on down a couple blocks to Gansevoort and 9th Ave, thinking I'm heading to the Noir Jewerly sale, but realize I copied down the wrong address and am more than 25 blocks away.  I'm at the Nicholas K sale, and it's 20 minutes away from opening.  Snap judgement at the clothing there, everything looks very loose and fringe-driven.  I decide to pass and return to the Rag & Bone sale.

10:45 A.M.:  I'm at the end of the line.  The organizers say it will take 30 minutes to get in and 30 minutes to get to the registers.  I have an hour and 15 minutes to spare.  Fortunately, I'm in within 15 minutes, only to enter the insane disaster zone that is the first picture provided.  The clothes are gorgeous.  Beautiful dresses, gorgeous flowing maxi skirts, and nicely tailored blazers.  I pick out two sweaters, but realize they're about $125 each.  I'm tempted, but quickly remind myself that I'm saving up for an upcoming vacation and convince myself that I can't afford it.  Alas, there's always next time.

11:25 P.M.:  I exit Chelsea Market, but not before making a trip to the nearby Anthropologie.  I'm at a critical crossing point.  Do I attempt to go back to the Noir Jewelry sale and make it 5 for 5, or do I give up and get some lunch?  Seeing as I skipped breakfast to go shopping, lunch wins.

11:55 P.M.:  I exit the Canal St. subway station and hurry into my hotel room to pack within 5 minutes.  All time was not lost.  I managed to snag myself a leather clutch/make-up bag for $50 at Sam Edelman.  It fits snugly into my carry on luggage.

Sam Edelman Stone Leather Make-Up Bag, which will now be doubling as a clutch

In 2.5 hours, I made it to four out of five sample sales, which beat my expected goal of three.  Not to mention, I make it to the airport with an hour to spare.  The YSL, Rag & Bone, and Nicholas K. sales will still be going on tomorrow.  I wholeheartedly recommend it just for the people watching.  Shoshanna and J. Crew will also be having sample sales next week.  If you're in New York any time soon, make you're own Sample Sale Challenge and tell me about it below.  I dare you!

If you want to see a map of everywhere I hit, check out my Google Map.

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