By: Cristina Martin
Ahh yes, it’s that time of year again. Spring is in full swing, we can shed the winter layers and attend the ever most exciting event of the year: the Manolo Blahnik sample sale. For one day only you can travel down the road from the Manolo NYC boutique to the Warwick hotel conference room, and score a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes for under $200! However, this year it was more Lipstick Jungle than Sex and the City.
Shoppers line up at the Manolo Blahnik sample sale at 4:00 a.m. Considering the fact that doors open to the general public at 11:00 a.m., that is a serious commitment. A Manolo Blahnik sample sale veteran informed us about the procedure:
1. You write your name down as you walk in
2. Receive a numbered ticket based on the order of the list
That didn’t go as planned, since the new staff members did not honor the list we waiters in line created. That caused a group of exhausted, anxious women to claw their way to the front to grab one of the first tickets.
The ticket you receive will have your assigned group number. There are ten people per group, and groups enter based on capacity. The Manolo team attempts to organize shoes by size on tables; however, after the vultures get in, you will likely find a pair of 35s in the 41.5 table. Once you’re inside the stock room, you have unlimited time to shop as many pairs as you’d like (or can afford). At check out, they will strike out the label with a Sharpie and you hand over your cash. Yes, old fashioned cash, as this is a cash only sale.
All this numbered ticket business happens at 11:00 a.m. because, the VIP group (assigned letters A – I) will enter first at 8:30 a.m. No, you can’t just scam a VIP ticket. You have to be high-up in the fashion editorial world, Manolo Blahnik’s wholesale vendor, or an employee/friend of the brand. That is where a lot of the REALLY good stuff goes. So if you’re general public, don’t even count on snagging any classics or Hangisi.
However, there is still a great selection if you are in groups 1 – 5, decent selection (good stuff but you have to search) if you are in groups 6 – 10. After group 10, then it really is every woman for herself. As you can expect, there are hoarders who get there early and grab all the shoes. It’s the classic case of the early bird gets the worm. They DO restock. I left with three pairs of brand new shoes valued at around $2,000 for $460.
It’s important to mention that the resellers penetrated the VIP group and were cleaning out the sale. Some of them (shoppers!!) were also walking around with a marker and marking the shoes they wanted to speed out the checkout process.
The staffing issue was so bad, it earned a separate paragraph in my blog. I’ve been to sample sales before and don’t expect to be treated like royalty. That being said, I was still blown away by how rude the staff was. In the middle of the day, they just stopped the sale to eat lunch. I mean, it’s a freakin’ one-day sale. Bring in a few extra staff members and take shifts for lunch.
Be aware that there are some true samples there. Some shoes have been obviously previously worn with a roughed-up sole, and there is no further discount if that is the case — my advice to you: spring for the ones that are unused. Yes, you can get used ones fixed, but unless you LOVE them, there’s better stuff out there.
This is a type of sale you have to be a pro to maximize results. So here’s a lightning round of tips:
-Get there early, or pay a line sitting service
-If you see something that you think is cute just grab it – grab everything first and then try on
-Cash only so hit up the ATM (and make sure you have money in that account)
-After you get your ticket you can leave and come back – bring what you need to stay occupied and stay there, you might miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime
-It’s a friendly crowd, make a friend
-Look at ALL tables (I found a 38 in a 41 table)
-Some shoppers are legit crazy – don’t let them push you around
-Internet/cell service is horrible – be prepared
-Dress in comfy shoes that make trying on other shoes easy – the room is small and chaotic so comfort and efficiency are your BFF (ladies, this isn’t a fashion show, you’re not here to impress, you’re here to shop the best deals on Manolo’s)
-Treat yourself to a nice lunch after going through all of that
What: Manolo Blahnik Sample Sale
When: Wed. May 22, 2019
Where: Warwick Hotel – 65 W 54th St. New York, NY