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Play Nice, Ladies: A Shopper's Guide to Sample Sale Etiquette

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Inside the notorious <a href="">Cynthia Steffe</a> sample sale
Inside the notorious Cynthia Steffe sample sale

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Since we're coming off the Barneys Warehouse Sale and settling in before next month's Hermés sale, this is an opportune time for introspection. We've all had moments when even the mere thought of vastly discounted leather or ridiculously-cheap one-off designer samples summons the slumbering beast within us. But what if we tried to keep that beast tamed by practicing an honorable, magnanimous code of proper shopping behavior? All right, that might be too much to ask, but we'll at least attempt it with the first official Racked Guide to Sample Sale Etiquette.

Don't even try and cut this DVF line, bitches.


DO: Before taking your spot in the queue, make sure to ask the person you think is in front of you if that is in fact the end of the line. Sometimes it can be confusing, and there's no need to start the day on the wrong foot by inadvertently cutting in front of 20 people (who will waste no time setting you straight, by the way). Plus line-waiter numero uno didn't wake up at the butt crack of dawn for nothing.

DO: Once you're in line and you need to throw away your coffee or that AM New York you just finished reading, as a courtesy, ask the person behind you if it's OK to exit and then re-enter. Same goes if you're about to make a coffee run. It's also a nice touch to ask your line-neighbors if they'd like a coffee, too—we figure it's good sale karma and it'll pay forward at some point.

DON'T: Assume because you're pregnant (or on crutches) that you have special line-cutting privileges. Yes, yes, we understand this is a sensitive subject, but seriously, other shoppers have braved inclement weather, lost out on sleep, and risked the wrath of their bosses to wait their turn and they are not likely to be understanding of your request for special treatment. We're just looking out for you here. And honestly, if you're feeling vigorous enough to brave a retail excursion such as a sample sale, then you can probably handle a little line-waiting.

DON'T: This also brings us to the late-coming and line-cutting friends. There's nothing more annoying than showing up an hour early, getting the third spot in line, and then discovering just before the sale opens that you're suddenly number thirteen because line-goer number two's ten best friends just showed up. Remember what we said earlier about sale karma.


DO: Pack light. Most established sales, especially the big ones (Barneys, Hermès, YSL) have a coat and bag check. At Soiffer Haskin for Hermès, you basically have to check anything that's not bolted to your body—dainty designer scarf, fedora, you name it. Usually a small handbag will be exempt from the bag check rule and this will expedite the entry process.

DON'T: Lose your coat check ticket. Store it in a safe and memorable place. The harried coat check staff have enough to deal with—a lost ticket just slows everyone down.

Think she actually bought all these YSL bags?


DO: A wise woman once told us said that on vacation, if you see an item you want, snap it up immediately because you might never see it again. This rule also goes for sample sales, especially because there might be one-offs. But be considerate. Before you become one of those hoarders (like the infamous Cynthia Steffe ladies), follow these two rules: Only take items that you intend to try on, and put the items back on their original racks once you're done with them.

DON'T: Maniacally gather and haphazardly throw your 'maybes' onto a big pile on the floor or corner and have someone guard them while you go back for seconds and thirds. Not only is this selfish, but these piles are obstacles to other shoppers.

DO: Dress strategically and appropriately. We'd say that at least 60% of sample sales do not have designated dressing rooms. Seasoned sale shoppers know that the uniform is leggings and a cami for straightforward and discreet fitting no matter where you decide to drop trou.

DON'T: If you must get naked, avoid changing in front of an exposed window that's within clear eye-shot of the neighboring office building. Also skip open areas where pervy guys toting cell phone cameras are walking by.

DON'T: Hoarding goes for precious and limited mirror capacity, too. Sharing is caring—no hogging the mirror.

DO: Try and find a sitter. Between possessed ladies channeling their inner linebackers, exposed hanger hooks searching for their next prey, customary half-nakedness, and general mayhem, a sample sale isn't the safest place for a baby or toddler. Soiffer Haskin doesn't even allow children under 12 upstairs (unless it's the Hermès sale, of course). We understand that childcare is expensive in New York and sometimes you just have to make do, so if you must bring Junior, stick with the Björn as opposed to the a stroller. You're more nimble (and less dangerous) that way.

DON'T: Leave your baby crawling around unattended while you're trying on clothes. It's not responsible for a whole load of reasons.

This is no place for a small child.


DO: Check on the Dealfeed or call ahead to see what type of payment the sale is accepting. No lamer way to end your retail mission than discover at check out that it's cash only and you only have $5 on you. And the sales staff won't hold your items for you while you hightail it to the ATM.

DO: Prioritize. If possible, find out what will be on offer before you go and decide on what's the most important to you. Then strategize your plan of attack. There are usually a finite number of samples, so we like to hone in on those first.

May the force be with you, fellow shoppers. See you at Hermès!
· All Sale Coverage [Racked]

Barneys Warehouse Sale

110 West 19th Street, New York , NY 10011 212-450-8400 Visit Website

Soiffer Haskin

317 W 33rd Street, New York, NY 718-747-1656 Visit Website