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Betsey Johnson's Sample Sale Is a Whimsical Vintage Thrift Shop

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The Betsey Johnson archival sample sale has arrived in New York City. We stopped by the designer's Garment District studio for this morning's opening to find it packed with mixed vintage pieces, cocktail dresses, and accessories. But if you're not in the mood for the thrift store experience, beware: Incredible finds are mixed in with an abundance of lackluster damaged items. Plus, missing price tags appears to be standard, so expect a few surprises at the register.

Racks filled with Betsey dresses, tops, and bottoms are overwhelmed by mixed vintage pieces sourced from all over the place. The vintage pieces are mostly dresses in a size 6, but there are plenty of skirts, pants, and tops, too, like a cartoon-inspired sweater for $69. Prices for vintage appears to range from about $10 to $90, from what we picked up, but the majority of pieces were missing tags. We were told by one shopper that the staff is open to haggling.

The racks of Betsey Johnson-brand tops and bottoms are in a front corner. Nothing we spotted appeared to be in great condition, but shoppers were stocking up regardless. Prices range from $20 to $75, and pieces include an orange lace-trimmed ruffled skirt from 2005 with the sample tag still attached for $75.

Dresses are divided into vintage party dresses and Betsey dresses, all of which are bursting with her signature bright colors and ruffles. Prices for both categories are generally from $75 to $150. There was one rack of cocktail dresses and another with just very 90s slip dresses each for around $80, and there are a few vintage wedding dresses sprinkled throughout at $300 apiece. We also spotted a rack of light coats and blazers here, where prices weren't marked.

Runway pieces take up the back corner of the studio, and range from sequined dresses to clear plastic coats. We overheard shoppers complaining that the prices for these pieces were still pretty steep. That plastic coat is $100, and we spotted a glorious embellished dress for $400.

There is only one rack of tangled, banged-up vintage jewelry ranging from $10 to $50 (vintage belts are the same price). There were about six pairs of sunglasses going for $5 or $10. There were about twenty bags, and most of them appeared to be damaged. Plastic bins nearby held mismatched gloves, assorted lingerie, and swimwear.

The shoes were also a disappointment — we didn't spot a single pair in wearable condition. Most of them are not labeled with size or prize, and are too scuffed to see the size on the bottom. Single shoes (as in, just one shoe) are going for $10, while pairs are $50—$200.

Still, if you're looking to own a piece of Betsey history, the sale is worth checking out. Fans were coming out in droves today, and when we left the line to get in was pretty long. Bags, dresses, and jewelry were all going fast, and a sales associate told us that she didn't think anything would be restocked. There are no dressing rooms, and the sale is cash only. Check out the Dealfeed below for more info.—Cecily Rus