What Is a Sample Sale?

Jason Florio/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Sample sales provide a way for shoppers to purchase designer clothing, handbags and other accessories at prices significantly below the regular retail price. Originally, sample sales featured only clothing designer’s sample items, but over time they have grown to include overstock items. Sample sales may take place in a variety of locations.

Designer and Company Direct

A sample sale is not put on by a traditional retail clothing store, but rather the clothing and accessories sold at a sample sale come directly from the fashion designer or manufacturer of the clothing and accessories. Because the clothing and accessories circumvent the normal distribution channel for clothing sales, skipping warehouses and retail establishments, the items at a sample sale are listed for less than what a retail establishment would charge.

Temporary Sample Sales

Most sample sales are held in a temporary location, such as a vacant retail space. The clothing designer or manufacturer rents the space for a short period, such as a week, with the express purpose of selling off sample or surplus clothing and accessories. Because of the temporary location, shoppers typically may not return items purchased at sample sales. Availability of items may also be limited to one or only a few of each. Some clothing items may only come in one or two sizes, also limiting availability. Most temporary sample sales feature items from only one fashion designer’s line.

Permanent Sample Sales

Not all sample sales are temporary. Some sample sales stay in an established retail space, bringing in new items directly from designers or clothing manufacturers on a regular basis. Shoppers who frequent these permanent sample sales find different items for sale, rewarding them for returning regularly. Permanent sample sales, unlike temporary sample sales, may have clothing and accessories from multiple designers or clothing brand lines at a time, adding more variety for shoppers to enjoy.

Online Sample Sales

A growing number of sample sales have begun to take place on the Internet, where shoppers from around the world may participate, instead of the sale being limited to just those who live or are traveling near a sample sale’s location. Some online sample sales allow anyone to join in, while others require a user to present a password before being let into the sample sale’s website. Quantities of items featured in online sample sales are limited just like physical sample sales, meaning users will log in to the website at the moment the online sale begins to find highly sought-after items.


Photo Credits

  • Jason Florio/Digital Vision/Getty Images