Sample sales are amazing. You can bag designer or high street items at a fraction of their usual cost, restock your wardrobe, buy presents or pick up a one-off item for that special event. But they can be intimidating, and sometimes quite disheartening. Often they can be very busy, and if you haven’t been to one before it’s difficult to know what to do your first time.
1. Get there early
Most sample sales (except the seriously secret ones) will have a queue of people waiting outside for sometimes hours before the doors even open on the first day, hoping to get first pickings at what’s inside. Don’t just turn up five minutes before opening time, give it at least half an hour, grab a coffee while you wait, bring a friend and you won’t end up being late to the party.
2. Have an idea what you’re looking for
It’s great to go in open minded, but remember this isn’t your usual wonder around the shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon. You want to be in and out fairly quickly, and other people have got the same plan too. Decide whether you need a new bag, or if you’re looking for a scarf for your mum’s birthday or some earrings for your friend before you go. You may not end up getting these things when you’re there, but it’ll help you know where to start looking when you get in.
3. Don’t be afraid to be a bit pushy but don’t be rude
Sample sale regulars have a reputation of being a bit on the rude side… Don’t let them push you around! Don’t be scared to politely say ‘excuse me’ to someone who is in the way of those shoes in exactly your size so you can grab them before the lady next to you does. Just remember, no snatching things out of people’s hands! If they got there first, it’s theirs.
4. Be prepared to not get what you went in there for
Every sale is different, and there’s no guaranteeing they’ll have what you were hoping to buy. There’s no guaranteeing you’ll want any of what they’re selling! Don’t get too disheartened if you can’t find anything you like. If this particular sale goes on longer than one day, you can always go back another day and see if they’ve replenished the stock or if they’ve added anything new. If not, there are always other sales!
5. Keep an open mind
I’m not saying buy anything just because it’s cheap, but it’s worth considering some items that you might not ordinarily give a second glance in a regular shop. You might find that you pick up something that you would never have thought of wearing before, but you end up loving it and it becomes a staple piece in your wardrobe!
6. Know when to say no
On the flip side of keeping an open mind, also be aware of when you’re talking yourself into buying something for the sake of it. You don’t always need to spend £75 on a pair of heels you don’t like that much just because they’re Jimmy Choo (it can happen!), so if you find yourself trying too hard to convince yourself that’s a sign to stop and say no.
7. Limit yourself to a set number of items
Most sample sales arm you with a bin liner when you walk through the door. This is dangerous because it is very tempting to just walk around throwing stuff in the bag without a second thought as to the total when you come to pay. Tell yourself before you go that you’ll only come away with a set number of items, and try to stick to it. Before you go to pay, have a rifle through your bag to see how much you’ve really picked up, and see if you can get rid of anything if you’re over your limit.
8. Bring cash
Most sample sales ask for a small entry fee (usually between £1 and £5) so don’t get caught short on the door. Most of the time you can use card for your purchases, but often there is a minimum card spend which is quite high (around £50). If you’re planning on spending big, don’t worry too much – do check before you go that they accept cards just in case. However, if you want to limit your spending the best thing to do is bring cash (leave your card at home) and you’re forced to stick to it.
If you stick to these guidelines you should become a sample sale pro in no time! I’d love to hear how you get on, let me know in the comments!