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Catching Rae

Sample Sale-ing Downtown: Pros & Cons

Occasion: Client Appointment
Dress Code: Casual
Outdoor Temps: 70°F
Activity Level: Moderate
Wearing: Valery sweater (sample sale!), T Alexander Wang tee (flea market), McGuire jeans (J. Crew), vintage rifle strap (very old vacation souvenir from Seattle), Specialchoice satchel (Ebay), Bandolino booties (Women Helping Women rummage sale).

It's no secret that I luuuuurve me some flea market shopping - and because of this, I've never been all that interested in sample sales. Movies and TV had led me to believe that such events pretty much amounted to crowded, angry brawls over, like, four pairs of 10-percent-off-size-00-jeans. I don't wear the smallest size in the store, and I don't love shopping under pressure, so I felt that sample sales were not the best shopping events for me. 

However, my ears did perk up after hearing that I could visit 4 buildings worth of sample sales all on the same day. Hmmm... would the variety be enough to disperse the crowds and make for a pleasant shopping experience?

The Husband and I braved LA Fashion District's Last Friday Sample Sales, and we actually had a pretty good time! We went later in the morning, so we had plenty of elbow room, and I came home with three fun goodies for myself - including this fuzzy blue sweater coat by Valery!

The coat itself is chock-full of snuggly goodness, unlined, and made of skin-friendly polyamide. I love how swishy and soft it is! I also got an embellished indigo lace top and a distressed cuff, but those will have to wait for another day. In general, we saw lots of women's clothes and jewelry, with a more limited selection of handbags and men's clothes.


  • Price - decent discounts off retail prices as low as $5 for tops.
  • Brand variety - lots of participating brands to see.
  • Convenience - ample paid parking available, with all four sample sale buildings on the same corner.
  • Novelty & Uniqueness - plenty of brands you don't necessarily see in your average mall, and goods that may have never made it to production! 
  • DIY shopping - no high-pressure sales.
  • Haggling - not everyone's open to it, but some are.
  • New-With-Tags - if you don't feel comfortable shopping secondhand for gifts, this is a killer way to get NEW items at a discount.


  • Sizes - although not as bad as I had imagined, sizes were pretty much limited to XS-S, with a few Ms spotted. However, the CMC building does separate juniors, contemporary, and missy floors.
  • Fitting rooms - for the most part, there aren't any, and the salespeople are mostly there to collect the money (not assist with selections).
  • Lots of 1-offs - if the piece you like is damaged or too small, there may not be another one.
  • Time & Walking - you need lots of it to 1) wander around and look for participating brands (many showrooms will be closed), 2) browse through items 1-by-1, and 3) move floor-to-floor and building-to-building.
  • BYOB - you gotta bring a huge tote for your goodies, because they don't supply bags.
  • Cash Only - it's up to you to have what you need when you need it, or your pick might be gone by the time you go to the ATM and back.

Overall, if you or a loved one fit the sizes, don't mind trying things on over your tank top and skinnies, and you can handle the walk, it's a fun hybrid of a mall and flea market experience! 

Oh, and many of the showrooms will be open every Friday in December (see each building for details, links through the LA Fashion District)! Now who wants to go holiday shopping with me??