Sample Sales 2.0: Christmas Shop Like A Pro

The Super Bowl of shopping is upon us: Black Friday. I don’t know about you, but I have never really taken advantage of Black Friday shopping. I just have this bleak image of freezing while standing in a long line outside of Best Buy, waiting to be inevitably crushed by a stampede of grabby bargain hunters as soon as the doors open.

Whether or not you’re joining the ranks Black Friday shoppers, this week marks the beginning of the Christmas Shopping Season, and I capitalize that term because it’s a formidable time that causes anxiety for the best of us. It’s enough to make you want to bundle up and stand outside a Best Buy at midnight.

Lucky for you, though, the spirit of Black Friday exists all year in the form of a sample sale.

Some of you may remember my first sample sale experience where I walked away, wide-eyed, overwhelmed, and extremely sweaty (but learned some good tips!). I’ve been honing my craft a bit, and now I’m trying to spend most of my Christmas Shopping Season efforts looking at these sales first. Look how far I’ve come! But seriously. There’s no need to put all your eggs in a Black Friday basket when there are sales happening all the time.

After attending dozens more sample sales since my fateful first experience, I am convinced my original tips still apply. But I’m adding an addendum to these rules now that I’ve learned a few more things:

1) Get ShopDrop. If you are in New York, you cannot shop without this app. I mean it. ShopDrop compiles all sample sales in the area, and not just for clothes– there as was a S’well sale a few weeks ago!  It also tells you where they are, when they are, how much you can expect to spend for given items, and seamlessly puts the sales in your calendar. I’ve been to sales for Rebecca Minkoff, Nest, Theory, Vince, and The Kooples all in the last couple of months just by using this app. It puts Carrie Bradshaw-level thrifting skills right into your pocket.


2) Plan a “Pull the Trigger” limit. Go into each sale with a maximum dollar amount you’re willing to spend. If you see a leather jacket you adore and it’s within your “trigger” limit, just get it. You’ll spend less time hemming and hawing in the dressing room, and remember: you don’t have time for that anyway.


3) If You’re New to Sample Sales, Try A Non-Clothes One First: This was a tip from one of my friends and it’s a good one– don’t go to a clothing sample sale first. Try one for Nest, S’Well, or any of the other home goods and accessories to start. It’s less overwhelming to have to worry about trying on clothes on the first run. (If you have ShopDrop, this is easy: just looking now there are sales coming up/happening for Montblanc pens, Modo Eyewear, and a handful specific to only jewelry/accessories.)


4) If Possible, Go Early. I’ve said this one before but I want to highlight it again because I went to a sample sale early and oh my god, what a pleasant experience from start to finish. No need to wait in line to try on clothes, no ten-minute-limit in the dressing room, someone actually HELPED me find a size for a jacket, and I felt like I was in a department store but with better prices. Get there early at all costs! (Pun intended.)


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