New York City: That Shit Cray(-Cray)

Episode Two: Sample Sale

And we’re back! My experiences in New York have not been exceedingly unusual lately, but I did finally have one of the requisite rites of passage to becoming a “real New Yorker” (or at least a real transplant) I WENT TO A SAMPLE SALE.

Yes. A real life, balls to the wall, modern warfare sample sale.

The sale was for J.Crew, I intended to buy nothing, then spent over $200 so…I’ll be eating at the soup kitchen for the next few weeks.

Even cooler? My boss (whose idea this was. Literally I walked into work and she and my co-worker were like “hey good morning, wanna go to sample sale right now?”) has a boyfriend. This boyfriend knew the right person (I’m not explaining why or who he is) and so when we show up to find the line literally wrapped around the building, we walk right to the door, and they let us in before the sale even opens. GREAT BALLS OF MOOLAH IN THE MORNING. Probably one of the coolest feeling moments of my life so far.

I mean, this is how I felt at that moment.

Contrary to popular belief, sample sales carry multiple sizes, I saw several dresses and coats in size 12, so don’t let that deter you. Had I been wearing the proper sample sale attire, I would have tried on a dress or two (more on that below). If that’s still not quite your size, don’t you dare rule out ACCESSORIES. I got myself 2 sweaters, a pair of real leather calf length boots and an amazing bag. I priced out approximately how much this would have cost in store, and it came to about $690. So I win at life this week. Also, coolest thing ever? My bag had the details from the photoshoot still inside it. It was one of the prototype bags that gets made before they’re even ready to go in store. I FEEL SO EFFING COOL RIGHT NOW. Did I mention when we came out there was still a line around the building?

I’ll stop gloating and provide you with some helpful tips should you ever venture into a sample sale. Because this opportunity was sprung upon me, I was so poorly prepared. But not you, dear reader! You will know how to be.

1) Get there (crazy) early

I can’t stress this enough. The J. Crew sale started at 10, we showed up at 9:50, and the line was around the block. I was fortunate that I was able to get in early and disregard the line (sorry, still bragging), but the poor folks who got there an hour early were still in line in the rain when I left the store.

2) Dress properly

Dressing rooms at sample sales are basically just mirrors shoved in the far corner of the room, so you’ll need to wear an outfit that is versatile and will not require getting naked in front of strangers in order to try on your items. This means preferably tights that you can pull jeans on over, and a tank top so you can try on shirts and dresses over your clothes. If you’re not comfortable wearing clothes that tight throw a big sweater on over it that can be pulled off. Also, wear slip on shoes WITH socks. There will be shoes, and the last thing you want to be bothered with is laces, buckles, ties or straps when you’re in constant danger of being stampeded.

3) Have your priorities

Before you even get in line, you need to know what your priorities are. This is like Black Friday shopping, only crazier, because it’s discounted and sometimes one-of-a-kind designer fare with women who have skipped work, waited in line for hours and are about to go BROKE. If you get stuck combing through the dresses when you really needed new shoes, you’ll regret it when you get there later and find a bare rack.

4) Have an exit strategy

The same way you need to have priorities, you need to know when to say enough is enough. Because there are no carts at sample sales you will reach a point when your arms get tired anyway. Make sure you’ve acquired your necessities before you reach this point. Not only do you need to acquire as much of what’s on your list as you can and leave, you need to take into account how much you plan to buy. You might need a cab, and you’ll want to plan for that.

5) Don’t be a bitch

Favors get returned, as do elbows and pushing. Maybe if this was something I was really crazy over I’d be more animalistic (plus I’m laid back as it is), but let’s remember that clothes are not more important than humans, please. Also, if you go too crazy they’ll kick you out.


I had time to check my coat because I got let in early, but if you’ve been waiting in line? Those 3 minutes mean the difference between getting that trench you always dreamed of and watching it get thrown over someone else’s arm. No bags, no coats, no nothing. Bring yourself, your credit card, and maybe your phone.

I hope you find these tips helpful next time you’re at a crazy sale. I’m excited to hit up another sample sale sometime soon (or, you know, when I have money again so not really all that soon), this time better prepared and ready to go for it. Is it weird that I’m hoping for more weird stuff to happen so I can write about it? It makes life interesting. Come on, Big Apple, don’t fail me now!

Got any crazy New York experiences to share? I’d love to hear ’em!

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