When you live in New York City, it’s bound to happen eventually. Against your better judgement, you will decide that it’s absolutely necessary to attend a sample sale for one of your favorite brands.
Anyone who knows me can imagine that the sample sale environment is not my cup of tea. I don’t possess most of the characteristics required to be a good sample sale shopper: I’m anxiety prone, I like to take my time, and above all I’m incredibly indecisive. But when I saw that my all-time favorite lingerie brand, Hanky Panky, was having a sample sale at the Chelsea Market, I couldn’t resist. I figured, it’s just lingerie, how complicated or intimidating could it be?
A couple weeks before the sale, I saw a deal on Gilt City to pay $10 for one-hour of early access to the event. I was sold. In the fine print of the voucher, I noticed a note: bag and coat check will be required. I’m guessing this is a pretty standard practice to prevent theft at sample sales. I quickly decided I didn’t want to have to deal with that. I would bring only what I absolutely needed: my pocket-sized credit card case, my phone, and a reusable shopping bag that could easily fold up and clip to my belt loop. My first tip for successfully navigating a sample sale: avoid the bag and coat check, be a man, and use your pockets!
On the day of the sample sale, my Gilt City voucher allowed me to gain access at 11:00A, but I’d still resolved to arrive by at least 10:30A. My second tip for successfully navigating a sample sale: arrive at least half an hour before the doors open. I arrived around 10:20A and was number six in line. I was feeling both accomplished and incredibly nervous. Everything had perfectly fallen into place, but would I be able to hold my own once the doors opened?
Finally, it was 11:00A, the moment of truth. They checked my voucher, and I whizzed in, past the bag and coat check and line that was forming there. My plan had worked! I beelined for the bin of small v-kinis and literally started grabbing one in every color. I continued to the bin of extra-small boy shorts and the racks of small tanks and chemises with the same approach – grab one of everything. The employees were looking at me like I was crazy, offering me bags left and right to hold my loot. I, of course, had no intention of buying forty pairs of underwear or a dozen tanks, but I figured it was best to grab now and decide later. My third tip for successfully navigating a sample sale: if you see it and there’s a 1% chance you might want it, pick it up, and don’t put it down until you’re ready to make your purchases.
I survived my first lap without a hitch, but as I made my second round, things started to heat up. Every inch of the space was mobbed, and you had to shove your way in to each rack and bin. It was time to assess what I had, return what I didn’t want, and head to the checkout line. My fourth tip for successfully navigating a sample is to be sure to check the payment methods that are accepted – this particular sale accepted cash and credit card, but some may be cash only!
I left feeling excited and empowered – I’d successfully conquered my first sample sale with a total savings of $215 off retail! Despite the anxiety and insanity, it was totally worth it, and I’d absolutely be willing to brave another sample sale again. If you’re scoping out sample sales and planning to attend in the future, I’ve got one last piece of advice. My fifth and final tip for successfully navigating a sample sale is to note that you may not be able to try items on, as we were not at Hanky Panky.