Last week I got ready for the day a bit earlier than usual, hailed a cab and headed down to Soho. As the car pulled onto Mercer Street, I saw a line on the sidewalk longer than I anticipated (by about 150 people). This was the line I was about to stand in.

It was sample sale time.

The specific sample sale I’m speaking of was Proenza Schouler, which opened its doors to friends and family a day before they opened to the public. I anticipated a bit of a line, but as I got into my place around 8:50 for a sale whose doors opened at 9:00, I realized it was going to be a longer ordeal than I anticipated. I patiently waited for the first 30 minutes past opening, then began to feel fidgety. I wondered if I should just leave; I already had a busy day ahead of me and had no way of knowing what would be left when I finally made it inside.

This internal struggle continued for an hour, until it was finally my turn to enter the sale. I figured, okay, it’s totally worth it. I popped down the stairs, gave my bag to the bag keepers (no bags are allowed in sample sales to ward off shoplifters) and went directly to the Proenza Schouler handbag table.

There wasn’t much to be desired, at least not according to my desires. I really wanted a PS1 or PS11, just the straight-forward version, but the best bags had been taken long ago and there were PS1 totes and other one-offs that weren’t what I was looking for. I looked through everything and finally found an orange PS1; it wasn’t the color I wanted or even a color I loved, but I picked it up. I then saw a few PS1 clutches, and ended up seeing someone put a pink suede version back on the pile. I grabbed that one.

There was a lot of clothes, but that wasn’t what I was looking for. I stared at the bags a bit longer and realized this was the best I was going to get. I went to the checkout line and stood there with my two items, not really in love with my selection but feeling like I should leave with something after waiting outside so long.

It was one of those days where the line moved slowly – I’m talking two-hours-to-check-out slow. I made friends with the people in front of me and we all helped one another decide if we should keep what we picked out. Many of us spent enough time standing there that we gave up on items we had picked, and some put everything back and left. After about an hour and 15 minutes, I saw a woman walk towards the bag table and let us know she was going to put back her off-white PS1 and asked if anyone wanted it. I DID. She gave it to me and I put back the orange PS1.

After just over 3 hours in total time, I got to pay for my goods. The PS1 was $399 and the PS1 clutch was $299, which I thought was a tad over-priced for a sample sale. However, instead of leaving the sample sale feeling happy and accomplished, I was annoyed and felt like I had wasted time. Sure, I got a couple of bags and I really do like them, but it wasn’t a fun process.

When I first moved to NYC four years ago, I was so enthralled by sample sales. I loved checking them out, I loved the hunt and I loved the deals. But after attending many sample sales, I realize that, for me, sample sales are more of a hassle. Plus, when I go to them, I buy things I rarely wear or carry.

Sample sales don’t happen everywhere, and many of you may never have shopped one, but I find myself more intrigued by a great online sale than an in-person sample sale. For those of you who have participated, I want to know if you enjoy sample sales; do you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, or would you rather sit comfortably in your home and find the best deals on the web to avoid the line?

P.S. Please consider supporting our small, bag-loving team by clicking our links before shopping or checking out at your favorite online retailers like Amazon, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, or any of the listed partners on our shop page. We truly appreciate your support!

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