Rewind: District Sample Sale

More than 650 stylishly attired shoppers attended last night’s District Sample Sale, held in Georgetown’s former Gore Dean space, to shop bargains from 20-plus stores.

Boutiques such as Urban Chic, Ginger, Sherman Pickey, Hysteria, and Sassanova showcased fall and winter merchandise at more than 75 percent off, and many also offered up to 30 percent off current spring merchandise.

The sale, now in its seventh iteration, is run by the nonprofit Labels for Love, and each year benefits a different charity. This year, the benefactor was Kid Power, an organization committed to improving the lives of DC youth. It was expected that more than $25,000 would go to the charity through ticket sales, booth fees, and proceeds from items sold at the silent auction.

The venue represented a change from the former Galleria at Lafayette Center, and the two-level shopping experience was a favorite with many guests. “It’s amazing what a change of venue will do,” said event cochair Barbara Martin of the Patton Group.

Photographs by Rachel Cothran. 

Unlike many other sample sales where shoppers show up in sweats and leggings, this see-and-be-seen event showcased an eclectic collection of stylish Washington women (and a few men) who were as determined to sport their on-trend outfits as they were to score great bargains. Gladiator sandals, chic leather jackets, and spring florals were seen alongside hands grabbing for $10 and $25 merchandise. It’s a feat to speed-shop in heels, but these women did it with aplomb.

“It’s a great event because you don’t just have to shop for basics,” said event cochair Liberty Jones, head of public relations at Neiman Marcus in Mazza Gallerie, who also spoke about her happiness that so many shoppers turned up despite the economic downturn. Ticket sales started off slow, said Jones, but peaked close to the event. VIP tickets sold nearly a week in advance. One die-hard shopper, finding that the general-admission line meant an hour less shopping than VIPs got, even purchased a “benefactress”-level ticket on the spot at a cost of $250—$110 more than a general-admission pass.

Other shoppers expressed surprise that much of the merchandise was still $100 or more, despite the economy. But bargains were to be found—Vineyard Vines ties, retailing for $45, were $25 at Sherman Pickey; dresses at Urban Chic, Ginger, Sangaree, and We One You Two were found at $50 to $75, originally $300 or more; and many Tory Burch shoes snuck out for less than $100.

While dedicated shoppers perused the merchandise, vendors such as Sweetgreen, Rock Creek, and Georgetown Cupcake served small bites including miniature wraps and an extensive assortment of cupcakes. Ironically, Rock Creek’s sugarless panna cotta was right next to the assortment of waistline-expanding Georgetown Cupcakes, but both appeared popular with shoppers. Absolut and Malibu cocktails were popular in the outdoor bar, while shoppers inside enjoyed a variety of passed beverages, including Champagne, white wine, and Glacéau SmartWater.

After filling their bags with purchases, shoppers could relax in the on-site makeover spot from local salon PR at Partners, which was offering free miniature blowouts, eyebrow shaping, and makeup application.

Silent-auction items included a limousine ride for 14; dinner from spots such as the new Inox Restaurant in McLean and DC favorite Mio; and merchandise such as a new Theory suit and Smathers & Branson belts.

By 7:30, many shoppers were still going strong, while a few headed out the door, weighed down with purchases and VIP goodie bags that included coupons from National Jean Company and Gifford’s as well as samples such as Combat Ready Lip Balm and a DSS T-shirt.

The next District Sample Sale will take place this fall, and information is available at

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