Recently I got the heads up that Boden was to have a sample sale in Boston on Saturday, February 16th. Haven’t heard of Boden? While the terms conservative and trendy seem like antonyms, Boden’s product line is best described by those words. Feminine, modest and classy.
Boden has a devout following and people shell out the big bucks for their catalog offerings. The upscale line offers women’s, men’s and children’s clothing. All gorgeous, but decidedly pricey.
The Boden sample sale is a great way to get the good stuff for a lot less dough. You just have to know what you are doing before you get there.
Knowing that this was going to be a wildly well attended sale, I arrived three hours ahead of time. I was certain that I would be the first in line. Wrong. There were about fifty excited women in front of me.
And I thought I was so clever for buying a cup of coffee to enjoy while in line. Not my best decision. More about that in the tips & tricks list at the end of this post.
Once they let us into the sale, it was a mad dash to the goods. There were different areas for different products. Tables for men’s, women’s, Mini Boden, Johnnie B (tween line), coats, shoes and accessories.
By far, most women were on a mission for the Mini Boden line. That was the table that the crowds devoured first. Or so it seemed from my perspective. If you are shopping for your little ones, you need to be there very early and be prepared to grab and stuff. More on that technique shortly.
The next hot product was the coats. The coat racks were situated in the very back of the room and that’s where I started my treasure hunt. You see, I knew when they handed out the price cards that the tops would not be nearly as good of a deal as the coats and shoes.
Tops were priced at $30 and tunics at $40. If you consider that the catalog price range for a blouse is $58 to $98, you’ll see that the coats that were priced for $50 when they normally run in the hundreds were a much better bargain.
Same thing holds true for the shoes. Shoes and boots can run upwards of $100 in the catalog. So, some of the shoes were a fantastic deal while the others were not. It pays to know what the original product values are before going to the sale.
My initial haul before I started weeding things out
Another thing that influenced my shopping strategy was knowing what I liked and didn’t like before I got there. I’m not much into patterns. I tend to stick to solid colors as I’ve found that this works best for my own personal style. Changing up my outfits with fun accessories and killer shoes is my fashion strategy.
Boden is very much into large dots, bold prints and flowy tops that would make me look nine months pregnant. They also don’t seem to like sleeves much as most of their dresses and tops were sleeveless. My arms are not my strong point. (note to designers, please offer more choices other than sleeveless and the dreaded cap sleeves, thank you)
Therefore, I concentrated on coats and shoes. Boden has a delicious shoe collection. Shoes that stand out in a crowd with gorgeous details like roses, faux jewels, bows, fun prints (I like prints on shoes, just not on my boobs) and other details that make them look distinctive.
I had a very hard time narrowing down which pairs I would purchase. Once again, they were $50 a pop, so a choice had to be made. If I had purchased all of the ones that ended up in my bag, I would’ve spent $250 on shoes alone and that just wasn’t going to happen.
In the end, out of the shoes above, I chose the animal print and the wedges with the roses. Once I got home and looked up the values, I realized I got a great deal on the wedges as they were originally $168. The animal print was not as great of a deal because they originally retailed for $88. Once again, you need to have an idea of the values before you shop. Boden flats are not as good of a deal as Boden heels, wedges or boots. I do love those animal print flats though.
The doors to the sale opened at 10am. It took me two hours to go through everything. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind…
Many women use the grab and stuff technique. Meaning that if they see something they like, they will stuff it into their bags and make their final decisions later.
The results from this are that people create huge discard piles all over the vast convention room floor. I mean piles and piles everywhere you look. It will behoove you to get down on the floor and go through as many piles as possible. It’s back breaking work, but I swear some of the best deals are on the floor.
Here’s another important thing to note, there’s only one “dressing room”. A communal area with little privacy BUT there are several mirrors. There was only one mirror on the main room that I could see.
That said, the communal dressing room was packed. This resulted in many many women having to disrobe in the main area.
Something to keep in mind here….
There are men at this sale. A bunch. This didn’t really seem to matter to most women. I guess all bets are off at sample sales. Women were stripping left and right. So, be thoughtful about your underwear. This isn’t the day for a thong or a day to let the twins hang free. Trust me.
Once you root through your loot and decide what you are keeping and what you are leaving behind (sob, those purple patent leather wedges!), it’s time to get in the never ending line. Seriously, it’s nuts. I stood there for about an hour and forty five minutes.
As people are going through the line, they are still casting stuff off. Probably because they know their husband is going to kill them when they get home if they purchase everything that’s in their bags.
This creates piles and piles of cast offs by the wall as you go down the line. Once again, you will probably be tempted by the cast offs. It’s like candy at the grocery store register. Hard to resist.
In the end I spent seven hours at the sale. This includes my three hour before opening wait, two hours shopping and my almost two hour wait to check out. I ended up with the gorgeous coat you see above and ironically the same tunic the model is wearing but in another color, two pairs of shoes and one dress.While I was pretty happy with my choices, I think I would’ve been much happier if I had known the clothing values before I got there.
Tips & Tricks
- If you want choice selection and if you want children’s clothing, get there early. I arrived three hours before the sale and there were still about 50 women ahead of me.
- Know what you want before you get there. If you don’t, you will be totally overwhelmed, spinning in circles and watching women whiz right past you on their way to divide and conquer the fashion world. These women are on a mission.
- Know what shoe sizes you need and make a list for those you are shopping for. Boden sizing is British. You will lose time if you do not know your equivalent for shoes. The apparel is marked in both British and US sizing.
- Don’t drink too much before you enter the sale. While you can jump in and out of line while you are waiting for doors to open, using the bathroom during the sale is darn near impossible if you are not shopping with a buddy who can guard your stuff.
- Throughout the sale the staff puts out more goods as time goes on. Each section has huge boxes of merchandise which the staff places on tables throughout the sale. Be sure to watch the staff and stand where they are placing the merchandise.
- Wear shoes with non-slip bottoms. Pieces of slippery plastic litter the floors creating a slick ice skating like experience.
- Avoid bringing babies or children to this sale. You will need both hands and there are masses of people. Kids could easily get overwhelmed or lost. I saw lots of unhappy kids at this sale.
- Bring a snack. You will get hungry and there are no vendors in the sale room.
- Bring bags. Big ones. You will need them to hold your goods. They do sell them at the sale for $4, but why spend more if you don’t need to?
- If you are having a hard time at the tables finding product in your size, go case out the floor and find other women who look to be your size. Ask them where their discard pile is and go through it. This is not the time to be shy and people are totally fine with you going through their discard pile. I’m telling you, there’s treasure on them there floors.
- Bring cash. The cash line was a fraction of the credit line. You will most likely shave off an hour of your wait by doing this.
- Go with a buddy or take public transit. Parking fees at the Prudential Center are obscene. $36 for 5 hours. And YES you will be there for at least 5 hours.
2013 Boden Sample Sale Pricing
Bathing Suits $25
Bathing Suits $15
Bathing Suits $15
Upcoming Boden sample sales:
April 13th from 10-4
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center
May 25th from 10-4
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
June 22nd from 10-4