Service of Sample Sales

January 10th, 2013

Categories: Fashion, Sample Sale


I’ve written countless times how much I love discount shopping so it’s hardly a surprise that one seasonal tradition has been a look-see at a well known brand’s annual sample sale with my friend Elaine Siegel. For years we first meet for a bite of lunch and then we stroll the aisles looking for scarves, gloves, handbags and other fashion accessories.

sample-sale-11As we got off the elevator at this one we were at the back of a long line and thought we misheard an order to give up our handbags. We were told that we could keep our wallets. The coat check wasn’t taking coats. Hundreds of women ahead of us gladly complied. It felt so wrong to me–and Elaine, who said that the invitation didn’t warn that this would happen. So we went upstairs to another sample sale of an equally well known brand.

sample-sale-3As we emerged from the elevator, there was nobody in this lobby so we naturally formed a line and were shrieked at by a surly guard that we were in the wrong place and to move the line to where he was pointing. As we did I slipped off my winter jacket–it was hot indoors. He barked, as though I was Paul Newman in jail in “Cool Hand Luke,” [which was recently on Turner Classic Movies], “PUT THAT BACK ON!” and pointed to where I should go next. “Next” was the coat check, without a coat in sight. The staffer wanted my handbag. Elaine and I left that place as well.

If theft was an issue, why couldn’t these places ask us to open our handbags as we emerged from the sale? Seems simple enough.

sample-sale-21There are so many bargains to be had in the NY Metro area in any economy and these days, the opportunities grow geometrically. Nobody else left the first sale with us and one woman joined us in leaving the second one for the reasons we did.

How long will people be willing to suffer such indignity and discomfort? Who wants to stay in a place for long wearing a winter coat, worrying about the security of their handbag, cell phone, credit cards and other personal things?

This bargain hunter and her friend Elaine would rather do without. And you?


4 Responses to “Service of Sample Sales”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    The best way to avoid nightmares of the nature described above is to avoid so called discount stores. Discounts are usually steeper in better and smaller shops, the choices more inviting and both shoppers and staff, friendlier. This is not always the case: I wandered into a “Chi Chi Shoppe” one afternoon, and found myself locking horns with a feisty manager. Once the hostilities died down, we became friendly, and so much so, over the years, that I sometimes helped rearrange the store…..Loads of fun so long as one doesn’t work there, and under the person in question!

    I dislike shopping, and find fighting for real or imagined trophies in a mess of stuff, both tiresome and a huge waste of time. I also prefer giving the smaller (and often better) merchant a chance. The day they are obliterated by the Walmarts, Targets and El Cheapos of this world, I expect to be dead.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I love to shop and find sample sales are usually quite organized, with stacks of like items on display, often in cellophane. There have been madhouse sample sales with pushy, grabby people, which I subsquently avoid. They make me queasy.

    Some discount stores are a joy to shop–TJ Maxx in Poughkeepsie for example. It is never too crowded or too hot and has a nice selection of tempting, well-priced things attractively displayed.

    I do not like, nor do I visit, dingy, depressing discount stores.

    May boutiques thrive 100 years at least so you can enjoy them for the rest of your life. I love them too as many have superb buyers who select fabulous things and create environments that are a joy to visit.

  3. Simon Carr Said:

    Experiences in activities are usually pleasant or unpleasant, based upon whether the reality of what occurs exceeds or doesn’t reach the level of agreeableness anticipated.

    I had to have four teeth pulled in one session last year. I dreaded going to the dentist’s office, but my actual memory of the extractions was far more positive than it has any right to be. The man was so skilled, so informative and so charming that I came very close to enjoying spending time in his presence.

    On the other hand, more than once I have eaten well in a great restaurant and been bitterly disappointed with the meal, not just in New York, but in France as well. Something went wrong, like the service was familiar or sloppy, or someone lost their temper and spoiled the fun, or the grossly overpriced wine turned out to be merely mediocre. A food critic might have eaten the same food and concluded that he had just had a great meal, but then he may have had different expectations, or criteria for rendering judgments on quality.

    Speaking of visits to the dentist’s office, thanks for the tip about sample sales. I’ve never been to one, but now I know to avoid them if ever asked to go.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You are right….I was looking forward to the outing and to maybe finding a lovely gift at an attractive price.

    The organization of these two sales was what appalled–no doubt once inside there might have been nice things to find [if you didn’t mind shopping in discomfort!] Should someone invite you to some sample sales–depending, of course, on who your companion is–you should give it a whirl as you might enjoy it!

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