Dakota Group Sample Sale Gave Vancouver a Taste of Canada High Fashion and Bargain Basement Chic

Legions of eager fashionistas were about to descend upon a non-descript warehouse in the back alley of West 6th Avenue for a potentially thrilling sample sale, today, and I would be among them. 

Recall that scene from the recent film adaptation of Confessions of a Shopaholic? The one where hordes of otherwise demure and classy ladies descend upon a luxury sample sale in New York City and ravage other as they fight to reach the tables and racks of goods with the ferocity of a pride of lions attacking a zebra. While I haven’t been to a sample sale in New York City, I can hardly deny that this is an accurate representation of the scene. Vancouver-ites are typically less crazed, but tensions are undoubtedly high when you throw a group of fashion-hungry females into a small space with affordable chic clothes.   

I’ve been to a handful of these sales in Vancouver and the most successful to date have been thrown by the Dakota Group.  They typically run a sale every season, with goods from the current season and plenty from the season before. The gorgeous ladies who run these events keep everyone in check and are always supportive, helpful and honest.  I wish I could say the same for the clientele, but it wouldn’t be an adventure if there weren’t a few folks who get their back up when you grab the last Matt & Nat black wallet or pair of stunning leather and crystal Sam Edelman sandals in an 8.5. Beware of the women who casually follow you around until you haphazardly let go of that coveted item like the old bats in Vegas who trail you at the slots.  

The Real Thing

My friend and I enter the warehouse space and are asked to leave our bags with the attendants. My roommate always attacks the shoe racks as she is blessed with tiny feet, while I generally stay away from this area to avoid massive disappointment as the reality is that I do not have “sample size” feet (again, not a hard and fast rule, the Sam Edelman sandals fit perfectly). There are racks and racks of dresses, pants, jackets, jeans, skirts, tights and on and on and on, along with rubber maid containers of random bits and bobs, including belts, scarves and the like. If you are fortunate enough, the sale will be outfitted with a make-shift change room where the ladies strip down to their skivvies and frantically throw on their outfits, bumping extremities and glancing quickly in the lone mirror. If you aren’t the type to strip down in front of a group of strangers, you’ll either have to get comfortable quick or take your chances with the item at home. There are no returns or exchanges and the sale is always final.   

Alright, so why is it worth it to attend one of these frantic events? As a self-proclaimed fashion bargain hunter, there is little more exciting than purchasing a great piece at a fraction of the cost.  Some examples include a $260 Matt and Natt bag for $100 and my favourite purchase yet, a short, black leather and fur bomber jacket for $50. Fifty bucks! This is just the tip of the iceberg but if you really keep your eyes out and your head on straight you can buy an entire wardrobe for a song.   

Check out www.ilovesamplesales.com for local and international sales.  If you are lucky enough to find yourself in New York City with some extra cash hanging around, go to www.clothingline.com , the original source for sample sales in the fashion capital.

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