Timing is everything.
Everything from what day you go, to what time you go, to how many times you go, matters.
Sample Sally always goes on the first day, early, if it’s a brand she really loves or a sale she knows will have great deals. “I do this so I can see what the selection is like and I try to find out if they’ll restock.” If it’s a really popular sale, like YSL, she suggests going early. “On the first day a Jil Sander sample sale, I’ve scored on a great handbag ($380, retailed for $1,600) and ankle boots ($119, was $795). For some sample sales, most of the good stuff is gone on the first day.”
Of course that doesn’t mean she only goes on the first day. “I always try to go on the last day of the sale since that’s when most will offer further reductions. Example: The last day of The Row sample sale at Soiffer Haskin over the summer, I bought a corduroy blazer with python elbow patches ($270, retailed $2,700), tanks and tees for $3.”
Mizhattan was also a proponent of getting to a sale well before it opens, as it could end up saving you time. “Case in point, the last YSL sample sale. The shoppers who arrived three hours before opening got to go inside right away. That’s ‘only’ a three-hour wait. Those who came one hour before opening had to wait five to six hours. Plus, all the good merchandise had been taken by then.”
Lila of Madison Avenue Spy suggests even going the day before–not to wait overnight, but because many brands hold a private sale the day before for editors or “friends and family” (this is true). “It’s usually worth the chance to check it out because most designers aren’t too strict with their door policy,” she said. “If you really want to play it safe, go in the afternoon when it’s most likely to be quiet. Attending a sale early gives you the added bonuses of a larger selection and less crowding.”