Regular readers may have noticed that we haven't been posting many sample sale listings for the past few weeks, and that's mainly because we seem to be in a much deserved quiet patch when it comes to those. Frankly, we are a bit Sample Sale-ed out ourselves. At this point, we've really got everything we want for the season, and what shows up by mid-January at some of the sales we get notified about turns out to be seriously picked over dregs.
Even Gilt Groupe
, which we continue to follow faithfully every day at noon, has seen some familiar goods repeated to fill up its selling schedule (although today's Gilt Man John Varvatos
sale features some refreshingly new merchandise, a promising sign)
For whatever reason, however, we found ourselves taking a detour to Clothingline
sale this afternoon, just to see if it was worthwhile. After all, they do one of these things practically every month these days, and while earlier in the year it attracted lines down 36th
Street, our typical response when we get those email notices is, "Again?
We were mainly wondering if there would be any men's shoes, particularly a pair of their nice desert boots. There were indeed tables and tables of women's shoes, and a smaller section of men's including those very boots as well as some Top-Sider chukkas we had been eyeing, but not in our size. Most of the shoes that were there appeared to be damaged, actual, well worn samples, and oddities like a strange abundance of red-soled white bucks in size 11 only.
On to the clothes, most of which appeared to be genuine samples, but racks and racks of them, many with "SAMPLE" scrawled on the inside hem of sweaters or t-shirts. A very appealing reversible down puffer vest in cotton twill and wool flannel is not so very reversible anymore if someone writes "SAMPLE" across the back in thick, black sharpie, is it? This also means nearly everything is a size medium, and often well worn. There's really no telling how old some of this stuff is because much of it was never produced. We did see a single charcoal gray waffle knit henley we bought at the store a year ago, and other things that looked even older.
But here's the big dumb thing about these J.Crew sample sales. The company already has factory outlets for its excess stock. Just after Christmas, we bought some great woven shirts at the Flatiron flagship store for around $14 (down from $59 and $69), roughly half of the price at Clothingline, and there were tons of them, fresh and clean, in every size. The final clearance sales in their retail stores offer far better values than what you will find at these sample sales, and that's before the extra 20% to 30% off you'll get on certain weekends, particularly in New York and other selected markets where the reductions are even a bit heavier than online.
So why would we trek to the dingy Garment District to pick through old
samples when there are far better buys in J.Crew's many well stocked
Well, we won't again, and, frankly, you probably shouldn't either.