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Everything You Need to Know About Sample Sales

NEW YORK CITY — A great benefit to living New York is the sample sale.

While sample sales might seem hectic and confusing for first-timers, the savvy shopper will be rewarded with serendipitous surprises and steep discounts. You can get much more beyond designer women's and men's clothes. Kids clothing, shoes, accessories, beauty products and home decor are also up for grabs at these sales.

To help unravel the mystery, we spoke to Sample Sally, a blogger who tracks and reviews the city's sample sales anonymously, because she does consulting work and the blog may be a conflict of interest with her clients.

Below her answers, you will find a list of some current sample sales, including Lela Rose and Paul Smith.

What does the term sample sale actually mean?

These days the term “sample sale” is used freely when a brand is hosting a sale. What's become the norm are brands getting rid of overstock, including samples, but not exclusively actual samples [from the manufacturer] as it was done years ago. I see so many retailers and fashion brands hosting sample sales and they're really getting rid of stock that didn’t sell in previous seasons ...There are some true sample sales, which are held generally by NYC-based brands, where they sell actual samples sometimes mixed with [overstock] pieces.

Are there particular sizes — say a 27 or a 2 — that have a better luck at a sample sales?

Depends on what's available at sample sales. If there are actual samples, those sizes tend to be small or medium (size two or four), size 27 for jeans. At the Ralph Lauren sale, samples are usually size six or eight. When it comes to shoe samples, they're usually size six or seven, which are showroom samples. When there's overstock available, a range of sizes could be on offer.

Are there different benefits to timing? Is it better to go towards the end or the beginning?

There are benefits to both. High-end and highly sought-after brands such as Comme des Garçons, Alexander Wang, Hermes, YSL, I recommend getting there on the first day. Some hardcore fans will even camp out the night before. For these brands, the good stuff will be picked over and sometimes wiped out on the first day of the sale.

For less popular brands, the shopper can wait to check out the deals. Going at the end often means the best deal where the organizers will slash prices, but the selection won't be as good as when the sale started.

What are your top tips for being a sample sale wizard?

If you want to find when and where, of course, you should check out the Sample Sally website. On the site we review and list sales. [Editor's Note: other sample sale listings sites include The Stylish City, Racked and Lazar Shopping.]

Focus on what it is you are looking for and keep your budget in mind. Going to these events can be daunting if there are large crowds and if there's too much merchandise. Try to stay focused. Also, there's the risk of buying something you end up never wearing. Just because you waited in line for hours, don't feel pressured to buy something if you don't see anything you love. There will be other sample sales.

If there's a dressing room, try things on. If not, many shoppers will strip down on the sales floor, but make sure to wear your “sample sale” gear such as leggings and a tank top so you can comfortably strip down without showing your undies.

Some Sample Sales Happening This Week:

Shoes

Hickey Freeman at 317 W. 33rd St., Chelsea
Now through Thursday
Tuesday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This sale is offering 75 percent off retail. Gents, you will find tailored suits, shirts and ties, as well as sports and golf wear. You can pay by credit card only at this sale, according to Sample Sally.

Shoes

Children's Multi-brand Sale at 34 W. 33rd St., Chelsea
Now through Friday
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

This huge sale will feature about 100 brands including Mish Mish, Baby Steps and Egg by Susan Lazar (pictured). There will be clothing, shoes and accessories for newborns to size 14. It only happens twice a year, according to Sample Sally. Some brands are cash only.

Shoes

Tocca, Stila Cosmetics, and ghd at 260 Fifth Ave., Midtown
Tuesday through Sunday
Tuesday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Sample sales" aren’t just for clothing and accessories. This sale will offer beauty and hair products as well as fragrances. You'll only be able to pay in cash for some brands.

Shoes

Paul Smith at 150 Greene St, in SoHo
Tuesday through Sunday
Tuesday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
                                
This eclectic British men's and women's brand will be selling stock at up to 75 percent off. There's clothing, shoes and accessories for both sexes, but with a focus on menswear.

Shoes

Lela Rose at 224 W. 30 St in Midtown West
Wednesday through Friday
Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Flirty and feminine dresses — and a host of other garments — from Lela Rose's Spring 2016 collection will be 75 percent off, according to Lazar Shopping, another sample sale website for New York City.

Shoes

Nancy Gonzalez at 37 W. 57 St in Midtown
Now through Wednesday
Tuesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday 10a.m. to 4p.m.

Colombia-born and New York-based handbag designer, Nancy Gonzalez specializes in exotic skin leather goods. This sale will offer bags of all sizes as well as clutches and other accessories. Note: strollers and children are not permitted.

Shoes

The News Showroom Sale at Floor 5, 495 Broadway in SoHo
Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Showroom samples sales will often have multiple brands and the discounts can be hefty. This one features some trendy brands including Public School (pictured), Common Projects and Tim Coppens.