Sample Sale Fridays: The Holiday Edition

It's been months since I went sample sale shopping at the Fashion District showrooms. I'm supposed to be outlining like crazy for finals, but if I didn't get some shopping out of the way, I'm going to be so stressed out when I have to shop after exams are over. Ideally I would have started my day earlier, but I was sick again today. Shopping with the sniffles was a borderline miserable experience, but I got gifts for 5 people with just $25. All of them are good stuff, since I'm not going to go through the trouble of sample sale shopping only to go home with something I could have bought at the mall.

The biggest problem for me are the teenaged boys in my family. I'm on a completely different planet from them, that's for sure. I've lost touch with what teenage boys consider to be cool. In my opinion, it's best to keep to general categories rather than pinning yourself down to a specific item. It helps to know what the guys are into--bands, cars, skateboarding, snowboarding, travelling, etc.

I know that a lot of people say buying clothes for guys are bad, but I think my instincts have been pretty good. With guys, I think accessories (particularly messenger bags) or t-shirts/sweaters are a safe bet. I avoid pants because it requires knowing the exact waist size, height, and fit, which is way too complicated. If you insist, bigger is probably better for young men. Graphic tees are really practical, and unless you pick shirts with some outrageous slogans, they'll be worn if they're clean. Generally speaking, home in on styles and graphics that reflect the person's lifestyle. Someone who appreciates heavy metal and wears all black probably won't be happy with a preppy polo. Likewise, a shirt with "pimp" prominently emblazoned will go unused by a shy guy. If you're unsure about the guy's personality, go for something generic or tongue-in-cheek funny...who doesn't like a sense of humor? If you're gifting family members, stay away from double entendres and profanities lest you draw their parents' ire.

Last year I got the boys some mini duffles from the Yak Pak specials so that they can carry games, etc. with them on road trips, so this year I wanted to do something different. Today I had the luck of finding a showroom that sold graphic tees at 3 for $10. The shirts are definitely cool, and one of them is distressed so that it has a soft, worn-in feel. Too bad the sizes were limited to the smaller end, because otherwise I would have grabbed some for 2 male cousins and a couple of guy friends.

As for my brother, who is a pretty big guy living in a much colder place, I found a $10 sweater with a slogan that totally fits with who he is. It would have been pretty expensive at some hip store, but it's $10 because it was a slashed sample (more on that later). But since he's my bro and the sweater is black, he probably won't notice my repair job, and even if he does, it doesn't really matter. He knows I don't have money and I'm trying to do the best I can.

I also bought a few things not worth mentioning, including $6 worth of necessaries (in the true sense of the word) for myself. There were lots of cute clothes, but I steered cleared of them because a) I didn't need them, b) I already have too much clothes as it is, and c) my money is needed in other places. I'm back to being disciplined, but I let myself have some cheap candy every now and then. As for self-indulgence, I spent $5 for a treat of shiny shiny:

I just can't get enough of Tarina Tarantino's jewelry, and this is the only way I can afford them. They are 3 separate bracelets, but really cute when worn together.

Finally, a few notes concerning Christmas shopping in general, and doing your Christmas shopping at sample sales:

-Don't expect or even attempt to get everything on one trip. It may be impossible to do so, and setting yourself up to complete that monumental task in such a short time is going to stress you out. Yes, Christmas is only weeks away, but take it one day at a time. Do as much as you can on one trip, and once you've crossed off names on that gift list, you'll feel better about tackling the rest. With the large array online shopping and brick-and-mortar stores available, you'll be sure to finish your holiday shopping at some point.

-If you're in LA, a number of showrooms at the Marts will be open for the next 2 Fridays. The people who work there aren't thrilled, and some aren't shy about expressing their discontent out loud, but it's great for us shoppers. This usually happens around Christmas time. Having gotten half of my shopping done, I can go back for a few hours next week and try to get a little shopping done in between studying.

-Bring a big bag! Or several big bags, depending on your expected haul.

-On this particular trip, I noticed that a number of samples were purposefully slashed so that they can't be resold at retail price. I can see why they do it, but I think it's rather wasteful (isn't a "sample" stamp inside a piece of clothing enough?). If you're buying things for the purpose of giving them away, check carefully. Usually the rips are covered with tape, so they're easy to spot, but it's not always the case. Case in point: I bought a $3 pair of lounge pants that had a rip at a rather prominent place, but I wouldn't have found if it wasn't pointed out to me. If you are set on mending then gifting, make sure the damage is at an inconspicuous location, and stick with dark colors so that your repairs won't be noticeable. With light colors, you run the risk of having thread that won't quite match. With the aforementioned lounge pants, the shade of pink of my thread doesn't match quite right; it doesn't matter much since I'm only going to wear them at home, but it's certainly a big problem if they went to someone else. One rep at a showroom suggested that I use fabric glue. I have no idea how it works, but if you do, please let me know.

-Stay focused on shopping for others. There are lots of good deals for yourself, but if you get lured away by those siren calls, you may end up spending too much time at one spot and not able to hit others before they close or run out of good stuff. Besides, you'll be out a lot of money real soon. Sample sales like these are cash-only, so preserving cash is a big deal.

-You can also read more holiday shopping tips by looking at posts from December 2005, when I had a readership of 5 people.

Next time I'll talk about a sensitive topic: regifting.


Eli said...

I have been wanting to go to the fashion district sample sales for a really long time now. But I keep missing those fridays, since I dont live in the area anymore. And I also dont know where the non crap stores are. The fashion district website so far only shows weird no name stores. I want to go back. My only hopes here in vegas right now are the conventions that come around (Project, Pool, Magic) and hope that they sell their samples or give away freebies. Usually I come out pretty well, but they only do it twice a year.

Sales Rack Raider said...

With the exception of beading supply stores, I never go to any of the retail establishments there. I like the samples from the New Mart showrooms because they tend to be samples for trendier labels. I also hit the sales in the California Mart and the Cooper Building sometimes. They're all across the street from each other so it's easy to hit all three if I go early enough.