Sample and warehouse sales are an incredible opportunity to access name brand products at deep, deep discounts and yet they still seem to be one of those “I’ve heard of it, but have no idea what it is and how to get in on it” kind of things. I’m going to spell out the differences for you here and give you some tips to get you in the door!
What is a Sample Sale? – Usually it’s a sale with one of a kind pieces available in one size only. The samples are used to showcase and sell to buyers (from retail stores) approximately six months before they will actually be in the stores. Normally, samples are only in one size (varies by distributor and products), but all sales are different so be sure and check so you’re not disappointed. Remember to bring CASH as most sample sales are cash only.
What is a Warehouse Sale? – A sale where there are multiple sizes and product has likely already been on store shelves for the season with the warehouse sale being the final clearance. Generally warehouse sales are set up to accept credit cards or debit, but be sure and check!
How to get in the door – Most sample sales do tend to take place in the bigger cities across Canada – Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, but some brand representatives are can be further afield and they will often team up with other reps for larger sales. Track down the sales rep by Googling the brand + Canadian Sales Rep, for example: BabyLegs Canada Sales Rep. Or check out LinkedIn, most sales reps can be found there. Don’t be scared to reach out and contact them, trust me, they want to get rid of their samples! Most of them have mailing lists and will email you when their next sample sale will be. Sample sale season tends to be spring and fall but this can definitely vary. Don’t forget your independant Canadian brands, that may or may not have a sales rep … reach out to them online and inquire about sample sales.
Warehouse Sales – Connect with your favorite stores and look up their head office numbers online to call and inquire about warehouse sales. Get on their newsletter mailing lists so you get notified. Watch your local papers, most will advertise large sales (Aritzia, American Apparel). It’s in their best interest to get rid of their product so they will not mind being contacted.
TIP: If you’re planning on attending a multi-day sale, hitting it on the last day will likely bring deeper discounts … but definitely not as much selection.