Walking into the warehouse space last night in Georgetown where the District Sample Sale—an end-of-season bargain sale with proceeds going to charity—was being held, I reminded myself that I was there as a journalist. I would merely observe, take in the scene, conduct interviews with fashionistas looking for bargains, and dutifully report my findings.
Then I saw the clothes. The shoes. The bags. Oh lord, the bags.
Well, I tried for journalistic dignity and objectivity. Or thought about trying, anyway. And after grabbing a Kooba Carla bag for more than 60 percent off and a Nicole Miller silk halter dress for $75, I did settle down to see what was going on.
What was going on was a frenzied scene of flying clothes, discounts of 70 percent and more on designer items from more than 20 area boutiques, and lots of cocktails. It seemed almost certain that those were ingredients for a catfight (or several), but while the warehouse was jam-packed, and shoppers weren’t afraid to assert themselves in the narrow aisles with a well-placed elbow or hip, things stayed reasonably calm. More of my account, and lots of pictures, behind the cut.
Plenty of attendees had taken tips on shopping strategy to heart, wearing leggings and loose-fitting clothing that flew off in a flash when shoppers needed to try on a shirt or skirt—there were no dressing rooms in the warehouse; modesty was not a virtue, or much on display, at the event. And judging from the shopping bags I saw people toting, most shoppers found at least a deal or two.
My favorite offerings? The Kooba and Botkier bags from Betsy Fisher were napped up almost immediately. Several gorgeous white winter coats from Muleh, the 14th Street boutique, went relatively fast. Queen Bee jewelry offered rows and rows of chunky gemstone necklaces at 10 to 20 percent off, as well as a lovely turquoise cuff bracelet for $35 that I passed up on my first spin around the room and which of course had disappeared by the time I decided I was a fool not to have grabbed it. First rule of tag sales: Don’t expect that which you covet to be waiting for you an hour later.
The melee was made convivial by the trays of wine and cocktails waiters deftly passed around the room and the tables of mini-quesadillas, chicken skewers, prosciutto rolls, and puff spinach pastries. A DJ spun mellow techno tunes from the back of the room, and photographers ran around snapping shots of well-dressed women who looked like they were there to be seen more than to shop. (Seriously, who wears stilettos to a tag sale?)
The after-party at Blue Gin was more low-key, with free champagne for the women and mini coconut and chocolate cupcakes from CakeBar. Folks seemed happy to stand around, bags piled at their feet, and show off their purchases and tell tales from the evening.