Would you pay $20 admission to shop a Gilt Groupe sale?

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The scene at the Los Angeles sale. Image courtesy of Racked/LA.

I know we’re not supposed to shop at flash sale sites, but very occasionally way too often, we do. Call it a little addiction borne of too much time online and too few moments of breathless excitement elsewhere during the day. So into today’s inbox pops an invitation to Gilt Groupe’s warehouse sale May 18 – 20, featuring the normal Gilt merch “at prices that are even better than you’ll find online.” So far so good. But wait. They’re charging admission! Whoa. What is this, Costco?

No self-respecting brokester pays for the privilege of buying stuff, unless the door fee goes to charity, of which there’s no evidence here. Like so much else in New York, the sale has a tiered system. Prime shopping slots (Friday night and Saturday morning) are $20, and the Sunday dregs are $10. What??? You shop sales to feel like you won, and paying at the door means you already lost. Plus might buy more to earn your $20 back. Plus, who’s to say everything won’t be in weird sizes, then you’re just out $10 or $20 to feel like crap, and then you’re hoarding Vita Coco waters and rum cocktails to make your investment back. Plus, they’ve already had recent sales in Los Angeles and DC so who knows what’s left. Here’s what one LA commenter had to say on Racked about her experience at that city’s sale in April:

Sorry, but I did not think the sale was very good. I paid $15 for early entry, which was after there was a preview sale the night before, when I guess all the really good stuff was snatched up. I mean really-defective shoes for $99? Even if they were Rag and Bone, the cost to repair would make them about $150 for shoes that were defective and dirty too. And I saw varying prices for the same item. Women’s selection was wide, with designer pieces that looked like returns, some damaged. Not much in accessories-the bags were damaged, and jewelry was tangled, some broken. I can’t believe they were trying to sell this stuff. I thought the men’s stock was better, with lots of good useful items that did not look used our returned. That said, I did find one good Carolina Herrera white cotton blouse and a sweater for myself.
In sum, paying to shop a not-for-charity sale is way too risky for our broke-tabolism. Lest our imaginary friends at Gilt think this is somehow personal, there’s a pretty good ZipCar deal on Gilt City today: 30 for a year membership, including annual fee, and a $30 driving credit (normally $115). Get that instead and drive to the beach. Or hell, TJ Maxx.

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  1. I think paying for the privilege of shopping returned/damaged goods IS a bad idea. However, the Racked commenter is a bad example. Assume the Carolina Herrera blouse is ~$300 (they’re $400-600 on Gilt normally). The admission fee is thus 5% markup on goods ($315 instead of $300). Is 5% really noticeable when you’re dropping triple digits on a single blouse?

  2. Indeed, but would you be more inclined to buy a Carolina Herrera blouse you didn’t really need if you paid the admission?

  3. Oh man, this is even dumber than the Gilt Groupe sales (or Hautelook, ideeli, whatever)! You can do a quick search for almost any item that’s on “sale” at those sites and find the same or better price at a bunch of different sites. I learned the hard way! They also charge insane amounts for shipping which negates whatever savings you thought you were getting in the first place.

  4. Yeah I got this e-mail today and it really annoyed me. If I did pay to go, it would just be $20 less than I would want to spend there. Just the idea of having to pay to go to a sale is going to make me decline going!

  5. ummm… tell it to my $10 Alexander McQueen pencil skirt (that I later saw showcased in the Savage Beauty MET exhibit) and my $20 Chaiken wool belted shift dress.

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