Have you discovered online sample sales? Slightly different from the tech-heavy deal-a-day sites, online sample sales mostly take place over 2-3 days with a focus on a limited supply and selection of fashion and luxury goods, and a discount of at least 30%. They’re the hottest trend among those of us with limited time or who don’t live in big cities.
Over the past year, tons of them have cropped up with the majority focusing on high end fashion but a number of them focus solely on stuff for babies, kids and parents. If you’re familiar with the brand or the product, they’re a great way to pick up special items at a great deal but watch out — they’re pretty addictive.
They start at different times each day but usually between 9-11 am EST. I suggest registering with all of them so you get on their email list to get the heads-up on upcoming sales, bookmarking all of them and opening them all up at one point each day to check it (I created a folder in Firefox and select “Open in All Tabs”). You typically have a limited amount of time (15-30 minutes) to complete your order once you place something in your shopping cart so stay focused!
As an incentive to share the sales with your friends, most of the sites offer a referral bonus. Once your friend registers and makes a purchase, you get credit of $10-25 added to your account.
Here I’ve provided shortcuts to the best of the best and what makes them special.
BABIES/KIDS ONLY PRODUCTS:
They say: bTrendie.com is an invitation only shopping network for moms and moms-to-be. We scour the globe for wonderfully designed, high quality, newly created products you need for your baby, your home and yourselves.
I say: At least two sales at a time, including gear and accessories but so far no clothes. Premium bFirst membership costs $19.99/year (or after you refer 10 friends) gives you access to sales one hour before everyone else.
Return policy: Varies depending on brand, category.
Shipping: Varies, sometimes free
Referral bonus: $10
Shop now: http://www.btrendie.com/affiliate?DANIELLE
Find them on: Twitter @bTrendie, Facebook
Disclosure: I’m on the bTrendie Advisory Panel.
The Mini Social:
They say: Conceived by mom’s for mom’s, the mini social provides private access to the most hip and modern designer clothing and accessories for mom, baby and child, all at up to 60% off. A portion of the proceeds from selected sales will be donated to several favorite women’s and children’s charities, including the United States Fund for UNICEF and Shoe4Africa.
I say: One of my favorite of the kid-focused sites, they mostly have mid-priced apparel but also toys, accessories and stuff for moms like diaper bags.
Return policy: 21 days store credit on some things
Shipping: US only via UPS Ground: continental US $6.95, Alaska/Hawaii $24.95
Referral credit: $10
Shop now: https://www.theminisocial.com/myaccount.php?invitation=5352
Find them on: Facebook, Twitter: @theminisocial
They say: The original one deal at a time website for anyone interested in buying top notch parent, baby and kid items at the best prices you will find anywhere.
I say: Check out their Playground forum to request products and brands, see what’s coming up next, share feedback.
Return policy: Final sale
Referral bonus: None.
Shipping: US only, varies.
Shop now: http://mamabargains.com/, no code required
Find them on: Twitter @MamaBargains, Facebook
BabySteals and KidSteals:
They say: We sell one quality baby or maternity product every day at 50-80% off until it sells out. It’s not just a deal, it’s a steal! A ‘BabySteal’!
I say: Love them but they tend to sell out quickly so make sure you check them out every day at 11 am EST. What sets them apart from the rest is that they have everything in stock and ship the day you order so you get your purchase within 2-4 days usually.
Shipping: Actual, based on weight/item: USPS 1st class or Priority Mail & Canada Int’l USPS 1st class or free local pickup in Murray, UT
Return policy: Final sale with some exceptions.
Referral bonus: None
Shop now: http://www.babysteals.com, http://www.kidsteals.com, no code required
Find them on: BabySteals: Twitter @BabySteals, Facebook, KidSteals: Twitter @KidSteals, Facebook
Daily Steal Alert
They say: We select our vendors based on the following criteria and we always welcome suggestions from our customers of companies that fit this description: the use of non-toxic materials and dyes; the use of organic and/or recycled textiles and materials; the use of eco-friendly packaging; and a commitment and adherence to the standards of fair trade.
I say: Hit or miss. Sometimes brands you’ve heard of like Kicky Pants, Kee-Ka, I-Play and Under the Nile, other times you have to take their word for it. They limit you to buying 3 styles of any product to restrict resellers.
Shipping: Varies. US & Canada only.
Return policy: Final sale.
Referral bonus: None.
Shop now: http://www.ecobabybuys.com
Find them on: Twitter: @EcoBabyBuys, Facebook
Daily Sale Alert Signup
They say: Totsy offers moms on-the-go and moms-to-be access to brand-specific sales, up to 70% off retail, just for them and the kids, ages 0-7. Prenatal care products, baby gear, travel accessories, bedding and bath, children’s clothing, toys, and educational materials — and that’s just the start.
I say: Mid-high end brands
Return policy: Store credit only, 5 days on non-final sale items.
Shipping: US via USPS or UPS, Canada, email or call for international
Referral bonus: $15
Shop now: http://totsy.com/join/dbt
Find them on: Twitter: @myTotsy, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.zulily.com/index.php/referafriend/?bl=ZGJ0QGlubm9jZW50LmNvbQ==
GENERAL SITES (men/women/kids):
They say: As the “hottest thing to hit the fashion business in years” Hautelook provides an exclusive platform where premium brands reach their customers directly. As a result, Hautelook club members have access to the latest merchandise at discounts of up to 75% off of retail prices, all from the comfort of their home or office.
I say: One of the better all-around sample sale sites, they offer kid stuff occasionally.
Return policy: 14 days on apparel, final sale on everything else
Shipping: US usually $7.95, Canada flat rate of $10.95 + international surcharge of 18%, no international yet
Referral bonus: $10
Find them on: Twitter @HauteLook, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.hautelook.com/invite/103709
They say: ideeli provides access to not only the most sought-after products (often at privileged prices), but also true lifestyle experiences (ranging from tickets to fashion shows to VIP seating at sold-out concerts). With a hand-picked offering of luxury fashion, home and beauty brands and a commitment to bring that lifestyle to life beyond your closet walls, ideeli has quickly become the go-to destination for the savviest shoppers.
I say: Fairly mid-high end brands. You can register using your Facebook account. Get access to sales an hour before everyone else with their 1st Row membership which is $6.99/month (an annual fee).
Return policy: 14 days for shoes and apparel, final sale on everything else.
Shipping: Around $10 via UPS Ground to the US (no FPO)
Referral bonus: $25
Find them on: twitter @ideeli, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.ideeli.com/invite/dbt
They say: Gilt Groupe provides access, by invitation only, to Men’s, Women’s and Children’s coveted fashion and luxury brands at prices up to 70% off retail. From Valentino to Rachel Roy and John Varvatos, we offer a selection of merchandise at a range of prices.
I say: Mainly very high end luxury brands. I love their iPhone app which tells you when new sales launch and lets you shop from your phone. (It does have glitches: once it ordered me the wrong color and the second time it wouldn’t let me complete a purchase.)
Shipping: In the US, approximately $10-12 via UPS Ground, $21-42 via UPS Next Day Air. Will ship via USPS Priority Mail to PO Boxes and military addresses.
Return policy: 14 days on apparel and shoes for store credit only, final sale on everything else.
Referral bonus: $25
Find them on: Twitter @giltgroupe, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.gilt.com/invite/cbb
Rue La La:
They say: Rue La La is an ever-changing destination. Every two days, the passport stamp is different. And the anticipation is half the fun.
I say: More mid-range sales than other general sites. Has the most liberal return policy of all of the sites.
Shipping: $9.95 for standard shipping in the continental US, $16.95 + $0.95/additional pound for Second Day Air (4-6 days for Hawaii, Alaska) and $18.95 + $1.95/additional pound for Next Day Air. If you choose standard shipping, all additional orders placed before 10 pm that day incur no additional shipping charge.
Return policy: 30 days for store credit on almost everything using their free pre-paid UPS return label. Swimwear, intimate apparel and large/heavy items may be final sale.
Referral bonus: $10
Find them on: twitter @Rue_La_La, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.ruelala.com/invite/that_danielle
Billion Dollar Babes (formerly Regents Secret):
They say: Our designers range from European powerhouses like Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Chloé to American contemporaries Diane von Furstenberg, Catherine Malandrino and James Perse. The New York Times calls us “An A-list affair” and our designers return season after season.
I say: Not my favorite of the sites but they do have really good sales occasionally. VIP membership for $100/year gives you access to sales two hours early, free domestic shipping, automatic entry into their monthly $500 shopping spree giveaway, and exclusive promos custom-tailored to the VIPs.
Return policy: 14 days store credit for most apparel, final sale for almost everything else.
Shipping: FedEx Ground to the US $5.95-$13.95 depending on number of items ordered, free shipping on orders over $150. International shipping to Helsinki, Beijing and Dubai only (go figure!). No shipping to PO Boxes of APO/FPO.
Find them on: Twitter @BillionDllrBabe, Facebook
Shop now: https://www.billiondollarbabes.com/register/u/b4cbdac9cad99676a798a8
Beyond the Rack:
They say: A private shopping club for women and men who want designer brand apparel and accessories at prices up to 70% off retail.
I say: Pretty high end mixed with some mid-range brands.
Shipping: USA - $9.95, Canada - $11.95, International - $45
Return policy: Within 14 days with exception of final sales
Referral bonus: $10
Find them on: Twitter @BeyondtheRack, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.beyondtherack.com/member/invite/B52B7CC
They say: We help you shop smarter by offering established and “up and coming” brands at strongly reduced prices (up to -80% compared to the retail price).
Shipping: US $9 via UPS, Canada $15 via USPS
Return policy: 14 days
Referral bonus: $5
Find them on: Twitter @EditorsCloset, Facebook
Shop now: http://www.editorscloset.com
Swirl by Daily Candy not launched
One Kings Lane Home decor
I Love Sample Sales Online
The Savvy in-person sales only?
Luxe Club One - doesn’t appear to host actual sales, links to Zappos, Saks, etc.