Is there anything better than sample sales? Try warehouse sales, which are as much the ultimate in deep discount in-person shopping as sample sales. Warehouse sales are clearance sales, usually feature a much wider range of sizes, but not so much plus sizes.
Warehouse Sales, Sample Sales ... Isn't It the Same Thing?
In the strictest sense of the concept, sample sales are a way for designers to offload sample items that were never for sale but used as showroom pieces subject to insider scrutiny and buyer approval.
Eventually, designers sell off the samples in the hopes of recouping some of their productions costs, which are often not covered by retail sales alone.
To the delight of savvy shoppers, it's not uncommon to find a luxe one-of-a-kind apparel sample or accessory design at a jaw-dropping price simply because it didn't make the cut to mass production.
But there's a catch.
When it comes to clothing, sample sizing is relatively restrictive. Standard sample sizes vary depending on the brand, what's being designed (couture gowns, jeans, office wear?) and for what purpose (e.g., is the sample for runway or showroom).
Runway samples for women tend to hover around a U.S. size 0, and showroom samples tend to be around a U.S. size 4 or 6, with notable exceptions. I've seen high street denim sample sizes for women in the 28-inch waist range but never exceeding a 30-inch waist. As for men, sample size shirts range around Medium (neck 15.5 inches to 16 inches and chest 38 inches to 40 inches), suits hover around 40R, and pants/denim tends to be around 32Wx34L, but it's not uncommon to find larger or smaller sizes as well.
On the other hand, warehouse sales, which are synonymous with clearance sales, usually feature a much wider range of sizes, but not so much plus sizes. These type of sales are typically a vehicle for offloading seasonal overstock, canceled store orders or excess inventory with discounts anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent off the suggested retail price.
But in recent times, both sample sales and warehouse sales tend to overlap. I've been to many Montreal warehouse sales that featured overstock and samples on the same rack. And the rebates, considering the quality, can be mind-blowing. But you've got to work it to score that crowning find. If you've never been to one before, read my warehouse sale survival guide and plan accordingly.
As for how to get into the when/where loop, consult the following sources for the skinny on most Montreal warehouse sales.
Montreal Warehouse Sales: Find out When the Next One Is Scheduled
Want to know when the next price-slashing warehouse sale is scheduled in Montreal? The following resources will keep you in the loop.
- I Love Sample Sales—This is one of the first websites to “out” underground word-of-mouth sample sales from the closet. And while they don't cover all of Montreal's warehouse sales, they do have a knack for mentioning the biggest and the best.
- Allsales.ca—This is arguably the most exhaustive sales listing covering the Montreal area as well as other parts of Canada. They have a steady pulse on smaller, one-brand only warehouse and sample sales.
- mtlwarehouse—Another excellent resource for the scoop on Montreal warehouse sales.
- Braderie de Mode Québécoise/The Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers—This isn't so much a resource as it is a one-stop biannual shopping destination. Twice a year, once in October and again in April, Montreal's Marché Bonsecours hosts the Braderie de Mode Québécoise, or as it's known in English, the Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers. This a shopping tradition since 1994 that initially attracted only 50 people, a far cry from the 25,000 shoppers the sale now crams into its four-day runs starring 100 unique designer labels.