8.22.2009

The Barney's Warehouse Sale (the second time around)

The Barney's Warehouse Sale has moved from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica out to the LA Convention Center. A lot of people don't like the move, with the parking situation being the main complaint. To be sure, the parking is no longer free, since parking rates anywhere in Downtown LA do not come cheap...unless you know the area well and can find a spot gratis on a safe side street. However, it is closer to me now, and it is also more accessible by public transportation if one is going to browse and do not expect to walk off with a lot of merchandise. Another thing I like is the big changing area with mirrors, which definitely helps.

Shopping is fun, and great deals certainly can be had at the warehouse sale. But if one is not careful, buyer's remorse may ensue and a lot of money would go down the drain needlessly. To be a savvy shopper at these sales, one needs to go in with a plan and lots of discipline. The basic question is, "what do I want out of the sale?" If one goes in with the mindset of a casual shopper, picking up whatever piques the interest, that's perfectly OK as long as there's a sound budgetary limit. It still helps to get an idea of what is needed and what is wanted. Some people are glad to have the opportunity to get designer fashion at a more accessible price. There are plenty of labels out there at much lower prices than they would otherwise be, but much of it are not things that would wind up with a low cost-per-wear ratio. That leads to the second consideration, which is the value one is likely to get out of the purchase. That definitely helps with the narrowing process in terms of deciding ultimately what to take home. Since the warehouse sale is a final sale, there is no going back to the store to return or exchange.

Personally, I view a sale like this as an opportunity to invest in some high-quality, wearable statement pieces. I went to this year's sale with some idea of what I wanted to get (more work pants, and some cool shoes), though not a completely concrete idea because I didn't know what would actually be there. Even though it was a sale, it was still a Barney's sale, and thus the price was still going to be a bit on the steep side. If I was going to spend more money, I obviously want something that would be of good quality, comfortable, would not go out of style, but would also have some uniqueness to it. The last 2 criteria seemingly clash, but they do not have to. It is fairly common for me to wear some unusual pieces, but they are not so "out there" such that I would not be able to wear them regularly. If I want to buy something crazy, I'd opt for a regular cut but a crazy print/color, or an ordinary color but unusual drapery/details. Luckily, I had some experiences from the last sale to serve as a guide.

The only other time I've gone to this sale was last year (along with a follow-up visit), when I snagged a couple of pairs of Stella McCartney work pants and a couple of pairs of jeans. The work pants were a really big deal for me back then since they were especially splurgy for my fresh-out-of-school income level, but after wearing them so many times and getting compliments on them, I know that they look good and are of a good quality. Thus, I can safely conclude that I got a very good deal on them.

Having gone to one of these sales before, I returned with a better strategy. Some people go when the sale first started, since they want the best selection. I went the first week not so much to buy, but to browse and see if the sale had the pieces I want. If the answer is no, the buck stops there. If the answer is yes, but the prices are still too high (which turned out to be the case), I would return for a second visit during the final days of the sale, when I know that bigger markdowns would be applied.

I ended up going back there yesterday, since I had already scoped out a few pieces that I wanted. The shoes were what I was primarily after, and they were now 50% off the warehouse sale price. A few pairs of Pierre Hardy shoes, a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti grommet sandals, and a pair of Lanvin ankle boots with a mirrored heel particularly appealed to my inner rocker-chick--my job precludes me from having colorful streaks in my hair, but by gosh, I am going to wear shoes with attitude. I went through the rows, grabbed what I was after (and then a few more that caught my eye along the way), sat down, and tried them on. The process of trying on the single shoe for comfort and fit eliminated a lot of the candidates. It seems like Lanvin shoes in general are just not made for my feet; the boots hurt my pinkie toe as I walked a bit on the concrete floor. When I got the mates for the remaining shoes, the list got whittled down even further. One pair of sky-high Pierre Hardy sandals and the Zanotti grommet sandals were the last ones standing.

After getting the shoes, I walked off to go peruse the clothes. I did not get a chance to really go through the ready-to-wear section on the first go-around, so I spent more time there yesterday. I must say that I was rather disappointed--the discount was only 25% off, and much of the merchandise looked like they really belonged in the as-is section because the seams were ripped and buttons and other attachments were torn off. Ironically, the "designer" section had a 60% discount and much better deals. A Stella McCartney silk tank dress in my size was still there for under $100 (which was surprising, since the small sizes for something cute like that would usually be gone by now). It looked really sharp with the blazer I had worn earlier in the day for work, and I an definitely going to wear that ensemble to the office one of these days.

The items I initially wanted in the Balenciaga section ended up not looking quite as good on me as they did on the hanger, and as for the ones that did, they are still not good enough of a value upon further consideration. However, I did find the most comfortable pair of skinny-leg dress pants--the fit was just impeccable, and it really feels like a soft second skin without The Sausage Effect. The pant legs are a little long, but even after factoring in the price of tailoring, the price was well worth it. Admittedly, I did spend quite a bit of money at one sitting, but when all was said and done, I was within budget, everything I got was at least 80% off, and I am confident that they will be all worn for years to come (especially the pants).

Pics of the goods will come in due time, but I thought I'd post my experiences on the sale first in case anyone is thinking about going and wanted to know what to expect. The sale ends tomorrow.

3 comments:

Lauren said...

I LOVE sales like this!

Eli said...

I want to go to this so bad! Do they have a schedule?

Sales Rack Raider said...

It runs twice a year--once in the Spring (around February, I think), and once in the summer, almost exactly a year ago from now. I don't know if it's always been this way, or if it might change soon.