This has been a big week for Sample Sales. The Shophound checked out a few yesterday, and found a patient line outside of Band of Outsiders, eager shoppers still scooping up bargains at the ICB/J.Press/York Street/Cardigan sale and a calm shoppers perusing The News showroom where there were still good items to be found from Tim Coppens, Public School and Common Projects among others. Even the Sferra Sale at Chelsea Market was also relaxed but doing good business, with no pushing or shoving. Perhaps the advantage of an abundance of sample sales happening at the same time is that the crowds get spread out making it easier to shop all the sales —a theory that might hold true until you get to Manolo Blahnik.
Yesterday, the crown jewel of every Sample Sale season took place as it always does at the Warwick Hotel in midtown, but all reports have all hell breaking loose as shoppers fell into the worst possible behavior to be found when there are bargains to be had. It's not like this is a rare occurrence. We know there will be a Manolo Blahnik sample sale every season, but this time they were cagier than usual, with rumors circulating that it would be last week, and then confirmation that it would happen for sure yesterday without any specific hours announced. Manolo's folks really weren't out to make getting inside easy for the non-VIP, but enough people knew the drill for about 100 of them to get in line on Thursday morning to get an entry ticket. What happened when they were let in was, reportedly, total mayhem. Our friends at Racked report that what was once a relatively civilized event that often had André Leon Talley holding court and advising shoppers had devolved into a circus of hoarders who had ransacked the place, indiscriminately filling the sale's own plastic bins from under the tables with as many pairs of shoes as they could grab and hauling them to the cashiers.
This is what is commonly known as eBay reseller behavior, but it is rarely demonstrated with such blatant zeal. On the one hand, some companies really don't much care who buys the goods at their sample sales as long as they clear out of their old merchandise, but on the other, sample sales are not meant to be de-facto wholesale opportunities for small-time online entrepreneurs who can make a nice profit when prices start at $100.
How the folks at Manolo Blank will react to the eBay invasion remains to be seen.
Will they shrug their shoulders and carry on as always?
Will they impose a limited number of pairs to purchase per customer? After all, does anyone really buy more than 6, 8 or 10 pairs just for themselves at this sale?
Or, will they just abolish the sample sale altogether? (All together now: This is why we can't have nice things)
Maybe they will move it to another city like L.A. or Chicago where they can count on a sophisticated population who would jump at the rare chance to have a Manolo Blahnik sample sale in their own city.
We will have to wait and see.
The Shophound has certainly seen more than our share of eBay resellers at sale events, but they tend to maintain some degree of discretion as they load up their arms with goods. If it comes to the point where they are hoarding the goods away from everyone else, will we see the end of our favorite sample sales as designers turn to alternative methods for disposing of their overstock?