Women and men bustle in and out of the overflowing All Saints Sample Sale. Large glass windows frame the crammed pop-up shop and give evidence to the craziness occurring inside—mismatched shoes piling up on the floor, clothes falling to the ground and people aggressively pushing through the hangers to find the perfect item. A security guard mans the doors and monitors the herd of people trying to enter pop-up shop.
What's the reason for the frenzy? It's the last Friday of the month in Downtown LA's Fashion District, which means it's Sample Sale Friday. Fashionistas and shopaholics alike flock to South Los Angeles Street for the sample sales, where quality brands and boutiques offer their items for up to 70 percent off the original price.
"Our wholesale prices on some of our items are like around $80 or $90 and what I end up selling them for is $20 or $30," said John Khoury, production manager of women's clothing company Staples USA.
In the lobby of the Cooper Design Space, a cork board is scattered with advertisements and sheets of paper directing shoppers to the sales' locations. People crowd around the sign, their eyes scanning to see which rooms hold garments from Ella Moss, All Saints, Halston, Delacy, The Dreslyn and more. The event is notoriously exclusive because of the quality of the brands and products sold.
"In the old days, only family and friends could come. And they told you where the sample sales were," said sample sale veteran Karen Preisler. She was first introduced to the sample sales by her husband who owned a showroom at the mart 49 years ago.
Although the sales happen every month, the general public doesn't seem to know. To acquire knowledge of the sale and to successfully navigate it, one must be an experienced shopper, have done some research, or been introduced to the phenomenon.
One shopper, Minette, has attended Sample Sale Friday for nearly a decade and introduced her two friends, Bridgett and Nitasha, to the sales. They now go almost every other Friday.
"We found a website that adds to the craziness," said Bridgett. "It's chicmi.com"
The last Friday of the month has inevitably become the holy grail of days to shop due to the nature of the sales and extreme reduction in prices. It has women and men scavenging through items to find a piece with the ideal size and price.
"My last showroom that I worked at a lady like punched another lady in the head, she cut her in line or something to get in, it was just like so ridiculous," said Lauren Butler, a sample sale employee.
For many shop owners and employees, the day is not a walk in the park. Lindsey Wille, who worked the sample sale for Bobi Los Angeles and is relatively new to the sample sale world, said, "We'll set up the day before and put everything out."
In addition, workers spend the entirety of the sale assisting shoppers, maintaining the store floor and watching customers undress in front of them.
"Everyone's really nice and helpful and you just kind of get used to people undressing in front of you," Minette said.
The sample sale can drive customers to erratic behavior, but it has a rich history and devoted following in the Fashion District.
"I have been shopping at the sample sale since 1968 and I have been coming ever since," Preisler said. "I think I have missed two Fridays."