Beauty sample sales are not something I am overly familiar with; to the best of my knowledge they aren't really a "thing" within the U.K - or at least not in Scotland. The general concept of a sample sale - beauty, clothing or otherwise - is that a brand sets up a pop-up shop so to speak, and sells unwanted and often previous seasons stock at hugely discounted prices. A sale by any other name and my gosh are they popular despite never being openly advertised.
Last month, while in New York, I was perusing a beauty website (I can't remember which as what I found led to a moment of elation) while aboard the ferry into the city, and stumbled across a very brief mention of MAC Cosmetics first ever sample sale in NYC. I kid you not, when I say the only information that was presented was the dates, time and venue - that was it. There was no mention of the scale of discount, nor products available - I think it adds to the intrigue and reels more people in than the promise (and certainty) of up to 40% off, don't you?
Needless to say I made it my personal mission to visit the MAC sample sale and did just that. What I wasn't prepared for was the hoards of people who obviously had the same idea as I did - y'know to snag a bargain or ten. When I arrived outside the destination, the queue was at least 40 people deep, and easily in the hundreds by the time (keep in mind this was also one of the hottest days of the year, so I'm assuming some will have skipped the sale for that very reason) it was my turn to be admitted into the premises. A veteran sample sale shopper within the line, told me that it is not unusual for eager shoppers to queue up outside the venue as early as the night before, and those in the know will arrive around 7am to snatch the best products before heading off to work. I love a cut priced handbag or in this instance lip gloss, as much as the next guy but I love my sleep more. I'll make do with the "dregs" thanks, and as it goes the left-overs on the whole were pretty great.
As a newbie, I was quite bewildered by having to check-in my handbag and the weird temporary surrender of all my possessions - that is other than my purse (wallet) and phone. I guess the idea is that by doing such it prevents theft, and clears up the pre-made aisles of beauty products from needless, and difficult to manoeuvre bulky bags. Anyway once let loose, my first reaction was that of disappointment; I thought the sale would be bigger and dare I say better and that is all my own damn fault. In my mind there would be stacks of lipsticks, blushes and general hard-to-come by products that I missed out on first time around - rather it was piles of products from perhaps the last 18 months (think MAC Brooke Candy etc) or so and more nail polish than I have ever seen. Which when you think about it is great - sure I'd love to own another MAC Ripe Peach blush but in reality, I wouldn't hand over cash for a product that was last released at least three years ago.
Despite my initial qualms, I did purchase no less than 13 items - most of which with the benefit of hindsight, I'm not entirely convinced I now need but was swayed with the up to 60% off retail prices. Hashtag I'm weak. I mean a MAC lipstick for less than $6 (£4.50), is pretty difficult to turn down and as such I didn't. I don't really see the point in posting a review-slash-haul post of what I bought as everything has now been discontinued, and should MAC have another sample sale, I doubt that the products from the previous cycle would make the cut. Just know that I went, wasn't totally blown away (due to my own ridiculous expectations) and yet would be the first in line again. Well maybe not first, but I'd definitely swing by mid-afternoon and suggest that if you ever catch wind of a sample sale, you do too.
Now that I have experienced a beauty sample sale, I am bewildered as to why they are not more of a thing here in the UK? I mean surely brands must be eager to rid their warehouses of past season launches that are still perfectly useable (I realise we have Cosmetic Company Outlets but those also exist with the U.S), all the while making a little profit too? I can imagine that there would also be a demand for it too, well from a customer point of view at least.
What are your thoughts? Would you welcome beauty sample sales?