Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicago's Merchandise Mart Spring Sample Sale

Have you ever heard about Chicago's Merchandise Mart Spring sample sale and wondered what exactly happens during it and what kind of deals you can score? Well I have! So when I received an email a few weeks ago advertising the sale happening May 14 & 15, I added it to my schedule.

When my calendar reminded me of the sale last Friday, I couldn't wait for my lunch hour to roll around, and as soon as the clock chimed 12, I hit the pavement. Merchandise Mart isn't terribly far from my office, but a well paced walk can still take 10-15 minutes. Upon entering through the doors, I felt the crisp air conditioned air and headed straight to the elevators, traveling up to the 15th floor, the first floor of the sale.

As soon as I stepped out of the elevator, I was greeted by a concierge and handed a flyer listing the stores participating in the sale on floors 15 through 18. I thanked her and started looking around. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to see that even though the layout was essentially an office building, instead of large corner offices and conference rooms there were interior design home decor shops. Heaven!

I immediately developed a clockwise strategy to browse each floor within my limited amount of time. The following photos show you some stores and their samples for sale lining the hallway just outside their doors.

Although, some hallways were full, others were completely empty, and some stores invited you in to shop their samples. On the other hand, other shops would only allow you in their stores if you were in the trade and if you weren't, the sales associates would usher you out the door (reminding me of a bouncer at a club).

After looking at a few items, I quickly learned that this wasn't a sample sale I was going to be spending money at. I was hoping to see some real steals, but unless you think a dining room set originally priced at $4200 on sale for $1800 is a can't-miss opportunity, you might want to visit the sale for personal enjoyment rather than hoping for a $50 persian area rug.

Nonetheless, these were some items that I was majorly crushing on:
Faux fur pillows and throws that were so soft you might have mistaken them for real fur.

Tons of somewhat discounted wall art.

These super sweet gilded bird motif finger bowls.

This really cool drum pendant shade, which I'm still kicking myself for passing up.

All being told, I had fun shopping the sample sale, even though I didn't buy anything. I'm not sure if I will return again, I'm more of a $15 dining room table kind of gal, but it was interesting to see what is considered by the trade "high-end" decor items.

Has anyone else shopped Chicago's Merchandise Mart sample sale? Did you score a deal or just had fun looking?

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