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Ask Racked: What's Up with Alice + Olivia's Sales?

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Have a burning shopping-related question that no one else can seem to answer? Drop us a line, and we'll give it a shot with the help of our all-knowing commenters.

June's Alice + Olivia sample sale price list

Today's inbox brings a two-part question about colorful, feminine, highly wearable NYC-based line Alice + Olivia. We've got some intel on the first half, but we'd love your input on section two. Writes a reader:

1) Ever since I moved here, three years ago, it seemed like there were almost quarterly Alice + Olivia sample sales where their dresses could be procured for just about $100. I set money aside every few months in anticipation of these sales ? however, now it's been months since they've had one. The last two being in June and March of this year. What's going on?! Can you find out if they are going to have one again soon? My wardrobe is getting sadder by the day.
She couldn't have picked a better time to ask, because as it happens, Alice + Olivia's next sample sale begins this upcoming Tuesday, December 8, at their Bryant Park store (80 West 40th Street). It runs from 8am to 8pm every day through Friday the 11th. Prices might not be as good as our reader hopes, though: Dresses are reduced from $440 to $179, whereas at the June sale they were $149—which is still $50 more than "just about $100."

That was the easy part. Here's her second question, which is a bit more philosophical:

2) Is this part of a broader trend? It seems like ever since the insane popularity of Gilt Group, RueLaLa, HauteLook ideeli, etc, that I've noticed substantially fewer physical sample sales happening in the City. Are retailers opting to go the online route—does it increase their margins to do the sales online? Are they better able to offload merchandise this way?
Industry people and students of the city's sample sales, let us know your thoughts in the comments.
· Above The Fray: Cute, Colorful Pieces at Alice+Olivia [Racked]

80 W 40th St, New York, NY