November 09, 2013

Pittsburgh Boden Sample Sale Review

This Saturday was the Boden sample sale in Pittsburgh and I was excited to check it out. A friend and I went together and both of us left feeling like it was worth our time, with some qualifiers. I wanted to review the experience in case others were curious about these traveling Boden sales.

The doors opened at 9am and I knew from another friend that the lines around then were LONG. The wait was mostly indoors which meant that things were at least climate controlled with bathrooms nearby. But I had no interest in standing in line so I met my shopping partner for brunch instead. By around noon (or perhaps a bit later) we made our way over to the sale and saw lots of people leaving with giant shopping bags stuffed with their purchases and no line to get inside. Items were arranged by category (women's, men's, mini-boys, mini-girls, Johnny B, shoes) and in some cases also by size within a category. There were curtained off communal dressing rooms and workers regularly returning discards to the shopping tables. Although there was no line to enter, at that point there was a long line to pay.

We kept a fairly leisurely pace looking through piles of things in the areas we wanted to shop. I checked out mini-girl things first because it was the first table I saw. Then I looked through each  section of the women's tables because although they were arranged by size, many items found their way into the wrong area. Finally I looked at shoes.

After trying on a few things, I did one final sweep through mini-girl and women's. I left buying a blouse and a pair of pants (not pictured) for me as well as a romper and a swimsuit for Emilia. I was close to buying two dresses in addition to the above but put them back because I was worried I was wearing my sale goggles.

The sale included items from the cycle of Boden's most recent online clearance sale that occurred over the summer. I also saw corduroy pants and tweed jackets and things from last winter. I liked having another chance to potentially buy things that got away (and see them in person before I buy). But the prices at the sample sale are also the same, if not higher than the online clearance offers. In my opinion, the added value of being able to inspect something in person before you buy becomes the reason to attend a Boden sample sale. The discounts alone are not steep enough to be the sole draw.

Some practical advice should you decide to go to one (list of upcoming sales here):
-Wear something that is easy to remove for try-ons.
-Wear underpinnings that enable modesty in a communal dressing room if you'd otherwise feel uncomfortable.
-Bring shopping bags to help you carry your "wants" and "maybes" around while you shop.
-Browse with an open mind, putting even tentative "maybes" into your shopping bag so you can consider them before buying.
-That said, be ruthless when you make final selections (see below).
-Spend a good bit of time contemplating if you really, truly want what you think you want before buying (all items are final sale, and as always, beware of sale goggles!!).
-If you are buying for yourself, try something on twice before you decide if you really want it and don't trust the highly tilted, (thus distorting) mirrors they have in the communal dressing room (ask for advice from a friend or have someone take a phone pic before making final selections-- think of Cher from Clueless who only trusts Polaroids).
-If you have coupons don't forget to bring/use them! (I brought two but forgot to use mine so I gave them to women who were arriving as I was leaving).
-Go late if you don't want to wait in line. There was still a ton of stuff left when I got there and none of that frenzied sample sale energy that stresses me out. People were mellow enough that I never felt like someone was crowding a pile I was perusing and that's a good thing.
-Bring or don't bring your little ones. I had family help that day so I was able to shop sans baby, but I saw many babies and kids there (some of who were happy clams, some of who seemed to be nearing meltdown time... I did see one smart mom who handed her baby off to dad and used her stroller as her shopping cart!).
-Happy Shopping!


Kristin said...

Glad it was worth your time. Sounds like fun!

Lou (whatlouwore365) said...

Do they have a permanent warehouse in Pittsburgh? I feel like I've read somewhere before that they do or their sample sales are always there. I've been to the actual Boden shop in London a couple of times now but mainly do all my Boden shopping online, even more tempting now that I'm an affiliate. I do appreciate being able to see it all laid out together though. The Mini department floored me a couple of weeks ago, I just wanted to buy it all for Elodie but she has more than enough to last her the next two years at the moment!

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koren said...

I was wondering if it was ok to bring my daughter she is 5 wondering if people were ruthless and possibly knock her down or send her to stay with aunti for the day? still wondering

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Hi Koren, In my limited experience the crowd's pushiness and attitude depends on the time you go. In both my experiences, I went hours after the sale opened. This did mean that things were picked over but it also meant that no one was shoving or being rude. It wasn't even crowded enough at that point that bringing my toddler daughter was unsafe. I saw lots of kids there then. I imagine there are kids regardless of the time but if you are ok with going a little while after opening, I am sure she will be fine. Thanks for reading!

Jesspgh of Consume or Consumed said...

Hi Lou, I am responding embarrassingly late but just realized I never did! There's a permanent outlet in Pittston PA but that is a good 4 hours away from here on the eastern side of Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh only has the semiannual sample sales at the local convention center. I wish we had an actual Boden shop! I would prefer it even to our Anthro at this point. haha

koren said...

thanks so much I think I'll have her stay with someone


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