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What is a sample sale?

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    If you're looking to find some new items to add to your capsule wardrobe or need to refresh your closet, you might want to explore sample sales. But what is a sample sale, and what can you typically find at one? The definition of sample sale has evolved. Originally, it was, as the name implies, a sale to get rid of clothing items that had been used as samples for vendors, manufacturers or models. However, these days, the definition of a sample sale has grown to include large sales meant to rid a store of overstock. Sample sales are now a way for people to get designer items — from handbags to shoes to clothing — at a heavily discounted price.

    How do sample sales work?

    There are a few things to know before you shop a sample sale. For starters, there's a good chance you'll have to wait in line to get in. When you do enter, your experience will differ from sale to sale, but it's good to be prepared wearing comfortable shoes and carrying a bottle of water — because you may have to wait in line, or you may be able to shop for as long as you like.

    As you rifle through racks of clothing or bins of handbags, make sure to keep a discerning eye. Sometimes merchandise ends up heavily discounted because of a defect or wear and tear. While this may be minor and not bother you, it's probably worth making sure that the zippers work and there are no major stains or tears.

    Another thing worth noting is that a sample sale that meets the traditional definition may not carry a wide range of sizes. This is because the clothing and shoes may have been curated to fit models. However, as the fashion world becomes more inclusive, more sizing could become available.

    Locations for sample sales often don't have private changing rooms for you to try things on. So, you may want to dress in simple, tight-fitting clothing so you can easily try things on over top of them in the aisles. Wearing shoes that are easy to slide on and off will also make things easier. Purchases are usually final at sample sales, so you want to make sure that whatever you buy fits.

    Are sample sales worth it?

    Shopping a sample sale could sound intimidating, especially if it's your first time. You might be wondering, are sample sales worth it? It's a personal decision based on the shopping experience you prefer and how much you value certain brands. However, there are certainly some benefits.

    Sample sales offer an exciting environment and access to brands and pieces that might not be affordable to the general public on a regular basis. It gives you the opportunity to get a few good deals in the process. It could also introduce you to new, independent brands, as not all sample sales are for a single brand. Sample sales can also offer a fun way to experiment with fashion as you rifle through all sorts of items and look for things that pique your interest. Keep an open mind and you might just find a unique, new staple to add to your closet.

    How to find sample sales

    If you're interested in trying to score a deal, there are a few things you need to know about how to find sample sales. You'll find the highest concentration of sample sales in New York City, followed by Los Angeles. Both NYC and L.A. have websites dedicated to their sample sales, so it's an easy way to stay in the know about the upcoming sales.

    However, that doesn't mean your nearest city won't have them too. There are a number of online resources that announce sample sales, so a quick search online will help you stay up to date. You can also subscribe to email newsletters that announce the dates and locations of upcoming sample sales.

    If you're having a hard time finding a local sample sale and you're not feeling up to traveling, there are now online sample sales. Of course, the experience is totally different, but it doesn't mean you can't find a great deal. Search online for the numerous flash sample sale sites and you're likely to find something you love.

    What's more

    If you're wondering what a sample sale is and if a sample sale is worth it, the best way to find out might just be to experience one for yourself. They can be a great way to get a good deal, experiment with your fashion or try out a designer you've always admired. Just be sure to go prepared and with an open mind.

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