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Sample Sales Are No Longer Exclusive

June 9, 2009

It’s the summer of the sale. Designers and retailers saddled with extra merchandise that didn’t move because of the economic downturn are trying to get rid of it — at steep discounts.

Last week, Gabay’s Outlet in the East Village (225 First Ave., gabaysoutlet.com) became a temporary downtown Henri Bendel outpost when it received huge shipments of designer denim, dresses and signature Bendel knits from the uptown luxury retailer, all marked down by 50% to 80%.

This month alone promises more than 20 sample sales, including designers like Gucci, Prada and Rag & Bone.

“I think we’re reaching a peak right now,” says Kathryn Finney, founder of thebudgetfashionista.com. Her prediction: This kind of leftover glut won’t happen again!

“I think toward the end of the year, we won’t see that many crazy, wacky sales — not at the level we’re seeing now,” says Finney (above). “I think the recession really took the retail industry by surprise and a lot of retailers have adjusted production for fall/winter.”

She’s got a few tips for maneuvering the bargain basements:

How do you find out about sample sales?

A lot of high-end designers, like Vera Wang, Prada, DVF, Vivienne Westwood and Ferragamo, are marketing their sample sales. In a given week we get 30 to 40 notices of sample and warehouse sales. Prada’s sample on Sullivan St. used to be very exclusive and you had to really be in the know. Now, you don’t have to be an insider. Go to thebudgetfashionista.com/sales for an up-to-date listing.

What kinds of deals are you seeing at sample sales and discount retailers?

There are definitely better deals on more luxury pieces and better selection. It used to be at sample sales that unless you went first day, all that was left was the stuff you didn’t want.

Now it’s actually stuff you want. You can find Ferragamo shoes for $50 to $75, Vera Wang wedding dresses for $300 to $400.

Why are we seeing such steep sales, especially from luxury brands that don’t normally get marked down?

They produced all these things they couldn’t sell, so I think that’s why we’re seeing a lot of these warehouse and stock sales. All the gluttony of things they couldn’t sell six months ago — they’re trying to clear their warehouses.

This was stuff that was made to sell, stuff that is left over in their stock, and they need to move it. It costs money to store the merchandise, and the longer it sits there the more it costs them. So it’s better to get rid of it, which is why you find things at Gabay’s.

Are there still deals to be found shopping at the major department stores?

Department stores are offering coupons, especially if you have a store credit card, because people aren’t using them right now. If you buy at Macy’s with your store card and, say, they’re having a sale in three or four days, you can buy it on sale that day and they’ll ship it to you later when it goes on sale.

You don’t even have to be there for the sale — it’s called a presale. And you can get alterations done under presale. This is what they’re offering in order to generate loyalty.

You can negotiate other perks, like free shipping and free alterations, in addition to the discount. Before you go to any store, you should go to their Web site for coupons.

Lord & Taylor has really good deals. They have sales every week. You can get coupons online (lordandtaylor.com) and you don’t need a store credit card to use them.

For further information, visit: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/fashion/2009/06/04/2009-06-04_sample_sale_frenzy_.html


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