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New York City already makes a strong case as the best shopping city in the country with its collection of outstanding stores and boutiques, but once sample sales are added into the mix, it blows every other town out of the water. Below, we've listed — in no particular order! — the ten best sample sales that we lined up for, longed for, and carefully planned budgets for this year, including everything from yearly favorites like Diptyque and Rebecca Minkoff to surprises like Korean beauty. Here's hoping they all return in 2016!
The notebook brand blessed us with three sample sales this year — in June, in October, and in December. The first one was a bit under the radar, but once shoppers found out notebooks started at $3, the fall sale got ransacked and canceled its second day. By the end of the year, the brand figured out that it should only be a one-day event.
The luxe candle brand appropriately took its annual sample sale to the city's most fancy venue this year, bringing hundreds to the Financial District on its cold, rainy opening day, despite the fact that early shoppers basically wiped out the standard candle supply during previews. By the end, it was mostly fragrances that were left.
Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily shook up a typically quiet time for sample sales with the announcement that she'd bring Korean beauty goods to midtown at crazy-cheap prices — as in a-single-dollar-for-sheet-face-masks cheap. Naturally, crowds invaded and decimated the skincare supply during the second and final day.
After a devastating fall hiatus, Loeffler Randall triumphantly returned in May with plenty of sandals and bags that rarely went over $200, and plenty to go around in the final hours despite wait times of up to two hours to get in on opening day.
There was little warning that the famed American designer would be putting on a sample sale back in May, and maybe that's why it wasn't totally obliterated after opening day. Though there wasn't a ton from the most recent collections in terms of clothing (bags and shoes were a different story), this was a treasure trove for vintage and archived samples.
Band of Outsiders
What was initially considered a joyous occasion — the brand's first-ever sample sale — quickly became known as the beginning of the end: Just six weeks later, Band of Outsiders shuttered the Soho store, preceding the label's entire demise. At least we had the sale to enjoy, where plenty of one-off styles for both men and women were under $200.
Though this brand isn't typically one on the tip of everyone's tongues when talking about the city's sample sale scene, there was a surprising amount of reader interest (based on total page views) for both June's and November's events at Chelsea Market. That's likely because both sales had well-made uniform pieces — think silk tops, cashmere sweaters, and leather jackets in neutral colors — at up to 80% off retail prices.
J. Crew and Madewell
Fervor for this semi-annual event only grew when the sale host decided to give Madewell its own venue back in June, a decision that was wisely repeated for December. Even though both merchandise quality (J. Crew stuff is known to have significant damages in the sample section) and questionable prices (Madewell's online sale was likely the better bet in the spring), customers still lined up to shop as late into the sale as the weekend to sift for the best stuff.
This past October's sale will likely be remembered less for its deals and more for the epic mess outside that will certainly burned in one editor's brain for a long, long time. That's too bad, because we heard from the inside that the coveted silk scarves, enamel bangles, and ties were 60% off retail prices, up from the typical 50% off.