For shoppers who love a bargain and don’t mind the hunt, a warehouse sale, often called samples sales, can be a dream come true.
They are especially popular in big cities, but some brands, including J. Crew, Madewell, Crewcuts, Boden and Adidas, open these pop-up sales in smaller regions as well. Typically, they run over several days and feature new items at reduced prices.
But, in the chaos that often is a warehouse sale, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of the finds — and forget to add up exactly how much you’re spending.
Seven tips for getting warehouse sale deals without going broke
Know what you need
In other words, attack the sale with a list and budget. Before you go, write down a list of your needs. It might be two pairs of pants for work and a fun top for the weekends. Then, determine how much money you can afford to spend on those items. If you stick to your plan, you won’t blow your budget.
Don’t be late
Even before the warehouse sale open, shoppers often line up to get in first. And, as you may imagine, those early shoppers nab the very best deals. So, if you can swing it, get to the sale early, so you can be among those early birds.
Make sure you understand the prices
Unlike typical retail stores, the prices at a warehouse sale are usually not marked on each individual piece. Instead, they might be posted on the wall or listed on a piece of paper you’re handed when you enter the sale.
Before you start exploring the goods, take a good hard look at just how much everything is going to cost you, so you can be sure to get the best deals. The pants and shoes, for instance, might be on sale for 80 percent below retail. But those steep discounts might not extend to the dresses and sweaters.
Dress for shopping success
Many times, warehouse sales won’t have their own dressing rooms. Or, if they do, it’s simply a large curtained off area where you’re trying on garments along with other shoppers.
To prepare, regular sample sale shoppers come dressed in workout clothes — leggings, tank tops, shorts and thin T-shirts. Sometimes, they try on the clothes right there on the sales floor in front of everybody.
All sales are typically final at these events, so if you want to be sure you’ll be able to button up those jeans, dress in clothes that will allow you to try them on in public.
If you plan on trying on shoes, be sure to bring along socks that you’d wear with those shoes — sheer footies for heels or soccer socks for your child who might need to try on some cleats.
Most of the time, a warehouse sale is a cash-only operation, so be ready to pay with cash and not your credit card. This can help you stay on top of your budget too, since it’s difficult to overspend when you run out of cash!
Tally it all up
Once you’ve found your loot, head to a corner of the sale, look at your stash and tally up the total cost, so there are no surprises at the cash register. Make sure each item is something you really need and will actually wear, and that you’re not just buying it because it’s “such a great deal.”
Have some patience
If your idea of shopping fun includes sifting through giant cardboard boxes of random clothing items, a warehouse sale is probably right for you. If it isn’t, you might want to head to the mall instead. If you do go, be ready to spend some time sorting through the items and waiting in line to get into the sale and to finally reach the cashier when you’re done shopping.
Warehouse sales can be a fun opportunity to boost your wardrobe — if you don’t go broke in the process.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt. For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.