On Sunday, more than 250 shoppers braved the freezing drizzle and pending snowstorm to hit the deeply discounted merchandise at the Loews Annapolis Hotel for the third annual Annapolis Sample Sale.
Boutiques such as Saucy Shoes, Bailey’s Maryland Avenue, Horse, Star Monogram, Madison, and Hobo International sold their wares along with the Baltimore boutique Form and DC-based Fornash Designs.
“Two-minute warning!” cried Pamela Watson, owner of Bailey’s Maryland Avenue and the warehouse-sale cochair, as about 50 eager shoppers waited outside the ballroom for the VIP hour to begin.
It’s not nearly the crush or the size of the District Sample Sale or even the Alexandria Warehouse Sale, but the merchandise is quite similar. Shoppers, nearly all women, crowded the ballroom in groups of two and three, often emitting excited squeals as they found their favorite designers at prices of up to 80 percent off retail.
For the second year in a row VIP shoppers could pay a nominal fee ($10) to enter the ballroom during the sale’s first hour and were treated to complimentary valet parking, Champagne, and appetizers such as coconut-shrimp skewers and bacon-wrapped scallops. The entrance fee benefited Modest Needs, an organization that helps women in unexpected financial hardships. The charity also receives donations from area Loews Hotels, which hosted the event.
At the end of the VIP hour, volunteers estimated that more than 100 women had already started shopping and that many more were expected to visit later in the afternoon.
Saucy Shoes, owned by Sarah Goodall, one of the event’s coordinators, was a popular destination where women found merchandise such as Kate Spade pumps for as little as $75 and even a pair of chic pink silk flats with a floral bow for $35.
Shopper Morgan, an Annapolis resident (whose wedding was featured in Washingtonian Bride & Groom) was thrilled to scoop up two pairs of shoes at Saucy that she’d seen in the store earlier this week. She said she loves the sale in part because it helps out local boutiques, which especially need the boost in today’s economy.
Also popular were two luxe Annapolis boutiques, Horse and Diva—comparable to names such as Wink and Urban Chic in DC—which had items such as a T-Bags dress with gold, silver, and bronze beading for $110 (regularly $230), and Citizens of Humanity and Seven for all Mankind jeans were marked down to $75.
Customers provided hasty commentary as their friends ducked behind screens to try on merchandise. “Do these jeans fit right?” one asked. “They’re not quite right in the rear,” a friend responded, hands full of silky shirts. “Next!”
Many in the crowd—mostly local Annapolitans—said they hadn’t shopped at the Georgetown or Alexandria events. However, a license-plate survey of cars pulling into the hotel parking lot showed several DC and Virginia plates.
Mary, a “second class,” or junior, at the United States Naval Academy, called this one of her favorite annual events. “I love the boutiques in Annapolis,” she says.
That opinion was seconded by most of the shoppers, who spoke about how the boutiques in this waterfront town have grown in popularity and depth of designers over the past few years, drawing a loyal local following that once would have headed only to DC or Baltimore to shop.
If you’re sad you missed the sale, don’t fret. The area’s biggest and best sample sale kicks off Monday night in Georgetown. General admission (and VIP) tickets are still available. Go to districtsamplesale.com to purchase them. Of course, we’ll be live on scene to capture all of the action—and if there’s a weather-related delay, we’ll let you know!