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Four Tricks for Getting the Best Deals at Sample Sales

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Customers at the Rebecca Minkoff sale

We're knee-deep into this sample sale season and, like most of you, we're feeling it in our bank accounts. With semi-annual blockbusters like J.Crew and Lauren Moffatt still on the horizon this month, it's high time we talked about some our favorite strategic tips to ensure you get the best deals while perusing sample sale racks.

This isn't rocket science, but it's easy to lose sight of all practical considerations when Rachel Zoe is hosting her first-ever sample sale next week. Plus, we want to be sure that sample sale shopping doesn't drain you of your lunch money. After all, you probably want to budget well enough to hit up next week's sample sales too.

1) Do your research. So you're at a sample sale and have made your selections. Before bee-lining for the cash registers, put your smart phone to good use and investigate pricing. It's quite possible that the handbag or shoes you're coveting are cheaper online, especially if they're past-season items or very seasonally specific. The proof is in the pudding. Past-season handbags at the recent Botkier sample sale were cheaper on Amazon. And our commenters discovered that the current season shoes that were available at last week's Tory Burch sample sale were the same price on Bloomingdale's website.

2) Consider the possibility of markdowns. It's true that merchandise moves quickly at sample sales, especially if it's something as coveted and classic as a YSL Muse handbag. But other stuff just languishes. If you're really into that rainbow polka dot blouse and there's several available in your size, you may want to wait until a markdown hits. Generally, prices drop mid-way through a sample sale to inject a bit of excitement after the crowds have died down. If you sign up for a brand's sample sale e-mail list during your visit (usually there's a clipboard near the cash registers), you may be the first to know when prices are finally slashed. And that's how you have your cake and eat it too.

3) Visit multi-brand sample sales. Yes, the big brand name sample sales are huge crowd-pleasers. But haven't you wondered what happens to the leftover merchandise? Often larger sample sale organizers, like 260 Fifth Ave and Clothingline, will try to move it all quickly at multi-brand sample sales toward the end of the season. Give these sales a shot. Prices are stellar, there are no lines, and, who knows, you might fall in love with a new brand. If you still need convincing, you should see the gold and ivory jacquard Tory Burch cocktail dress we scored for $35 at an end-of-season blowout this past fall. We didn't have to throw any elbows to get it and, guess what? Amazon is still selling that same dress for more than $200!

4) Watch out for mistakes. Don't scoff at this advice. Sometimes, in the midst of all the hype, we make mistakes. After all, you didn't stand in line at the DVF sample sale for nearly two hours just to go home empty-handed, did you? Whether you brought home the wrong size, the color doesn't work for you, or you're simply not feeling it anymore—pass on the wealth and take it to a buy-sell-trade or consignment shop. This makes you a good fashionable citizen and helps you recoup some of your losses.—Kiran
·Six Big Sample Sales to Look Forward to This Summer [Racked NY]

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