Category Archives: Sales & Savings

Flash Sales: Are They Really Bargains?

Hello-Hello, and happy new week!  Your moronic somewhat frazzled correspondent inadvertently hit the ‘publish’ key for this post earlier today, please accept our apologies for that blunder, this is the complete post as it was meant to be published. (Still pounding head on keyboard, wall, floor, large bruises appearing on forehead, Silly Tilly the Tubby Bulldog continues to gaze in this direction with wonderment.)

Today we conclude our reports on sale sites. Previously we had something of a ‘flash sale primer,‘ followed by a look at preppy brands sold on the sites. Today’s topic is one many of us have wondered about, how good are the deals?

The sites use the scarcity of merchandise as a major marketing ploy, but how tough is it really to find the brands many of us like on sale? In actuality, not that difficult at all for many lines. Below we share a partial list of companies offering their wares at flash sales several times a year:

  • APPAREL: Lilly, Vineyard Vines, Nanette Lepore, Tahari, Juicy Couture, Pink Tartan, Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, Hanky Panky
  • SHOES: Børn, Reebok, MBT, Ivanka Trump, Juicy Couture, Paris Hilton, Mephisto, Jessica Simpson, Donald J Pliner, Steve Madden,
  • HOME: The MacBeth Collection, Safavieh, Amy Butler, Kosta Boda, Waterford, Frette, Tommy Hilfiger Home, Preppy Plates, Bungalow Scout
  • KITCHEN: Henckels, Kitchen Aid, Staub, Zak Designs, Kalorik, Cuisinart, Pfaltzgraff
  • FOOD/OTHER: Mrs. Prindables (around major holidays), Hey’s Luggage, Samsonite Luggage, Victorinox

While yours truly isn’t a fan of several brands listed, it does demonstrate how often one can find merchandise. Multiply this by hundreds of other consumer brands and you have a sense of the dizzying volume of inventory available at discount prices. (Saying these lines are available on a ‘frequent’ basis is an understatement in some cases, a few of these are in almost constant rotation on the sites.)

Let’s look a label many readers are fond of, Lilly Pulitzer Here are three of the deals at last week’s Lilly Pulitzer sale on RueLaLa.

Rue La La Thursday June 7, 2012

A Bowen dress originally selling at $268 for $99.90 was a good buy indeed. As were the Cabana Sun Readers ($35.90 as opposed to $60) and the Mitzie Forever pant (they were $49.90, the MSRP is $128). In reality, everything offered seemed to be quite a bargain, and much sold out rapidly, as is usually the case with Lilly.

But savvy online shoppers also use other sources for good deals: many check the wildly popular Re-Lilly page on Facebook, along with other FB pages offering the opportunity to buy, sell and trade Lilly Pulitzer goods. And they watch eBay, as well as staying in touch with their local Lilly stores online and off to track sales. In the offline world many visit TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and other off-price stores, and some travel to the semi-annual warehouse sales near the Pink Palace. (This spring’s sale starts June 14, more info may be found here, a Facebook page for the Warehouse Sale is also set up here.)

Back to the bigger issue on pricing, here is more from a CNBC story:

The limited quantities of merchandise and tight time limits create a sense of urgency that can goad consumers into making impulse purchases, but it only takes a few times before savvy consumers realize that they can often find the same merchandise for less elsewhere.

Two companies making things for the home (as opposed to fashion) that we are accustomed to seeing on flash sale sites are Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid.  We are big fans of our Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and our hand mixer here at the Prepatorium, they are in use constantly. (Only on those rare instances when Cook has the night off, of course. Ahem.) For the sake of today’s exercise we will look at a Kitchen Aid 5 Speed Mixer in Onyx Black.

In December on Beyond the Rack the Mixer was shown at $54.99 (“compare to $79.99 MSRP”) seen below on the left, below right we show it at the Kitchen Aid site, where the mixer was being sold at $39.99 with a MSRP of $49.99.  The mixers seem identical, both seem to come with the same package of “turbo beater accessories,” including dough hooks, a blender rod, and more.

So the question becomes, why would I want to buy it from Beyond the Rack for roughly $15 more?

The NY Times ran a story titled “Bargain Hunters: Hold That Click” in October of last year.

Flash sales are the highest expression of shopping as competitive sport. To win, you must be among the first customers to put an item into a virtual cart, then commit to buying it minutes later or else watch as it — poof! — disappears from the cart. As those precious seconds tick by, there is hardly time to comparison-shop on other Web sites.

Let’s do another example, back on January 26 Kitchen-Aid was back on Beyond the Rack. There were some good deals, but in terms of scarcity, no one can make the case the Raspberry Ice Stand Mixer shown below was difficult to locate. In the graphic below we show it for sale at Beyond the Rack for $339.99, at 6 other retailers it was approximately $10 more. Determining the best “bargain” was essentially a case of comparing shipping fees and return policies.

On March 28th, the same mixer was back on Beyond the Rack at $344.99, proving the “get it quick before it’s gone” argument for buying is often erroneous.

This CNBC story underscores the point:

The limited quantities of merchandise and tight time limits create a sense of urgency that can goad consumers into making impulse purchases, but it only takes a few times before savvy consumers realize that they can often find the same merchandise for less elsewhere.

Again, the sites count on and exploit that sense of frenzy, more from a retail expert via CNBC’s Consumer Nation:

…it comes with an excitement factor since merchandise can sell out fast.

“I think the sense of urgency is very powerful in terms of eliciting consumer behavior. They are tapping into something fundamental in terms of how humans respond to urgency and sales,” said Lipsman.

Let’s stay with the not-really-scarce Kitchen Aid for a minute, they were also selling on Ideeli in December, on December 12th we looked at a different Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.  We’ll compare prices for the 5 Quart Stand Mixer in Empire Red; “on sale” at Ideeli it was $299, but at Amazon the mixer was $239.

We did our best comparing apples to apples: both have a 5-qt. stainless steel bowl, both come with a flat beater, dough hook, and wire whip, both have the 325 watt motor, both have the 2-piece pouring shield with large chute for adding ingredients. Shipping and handling at Ideeli was $9.95 for a total of $308.95, at Amazon S&H was $20.92 for a total of $260.91.

Another example, also in the Kitchen/Bakeware category, is seen with this set of 3 OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls.  January 22nd of this year the set was $50 on Gilt.com

Gilt.com January 22, 2012

The price at Amazon for the same item that day: $29.99

Amazon.com January 22, 2012

Last Friday we decided to do some more random price-checking. Many items we saw at RueLaLa were good buys, here are a few examples:

RueLaLa.com

We did another comparison at Haute Look, the Nordstrom-owned flash sale site.

Haute Look

March 28th we saw a demonstration of the maxim about knowing your prices and taking time to shop around. A Tommy Hilfiger “Captiva” Duvet and Sheet Set was $149.90 at Rue La La, while the same 7-Piece Set was $109.99 at Overstocks.com Both retailers offered a duvet cover, two shams, flat sheet, fitted sheet, two pillowcases.

RueLaLa/Overstocks

Back to the NY Times story by Stephanie Rosenbloom:

ON Gilt.com, where shoppers vie for limited-time discounts on designer brands, a Kate Spade cabana-stripe medium tote bag was recently $169, plus $5.95 shipping. That same day, the bag was on KateSpade.com for $130 with free shipping — about $45 cheaper.

On HauteLook.com, another so-called “flash sale” site, a navy dress by Decode 1.8 was $75, plus $7.95 shipping. But at Overstock.com, the dress cost $55.99 and shipping was free. Savings: $26.96.

It is also important to know precisely what you are buying. Gilt did an event January 21-23 called “Wear Now: Sweaters with Style,” offering a number of labels one would associate with a department store: White & Warren, Pink Tartan, Autumn Cashmere, etc.. But some of the brands didn’t sound at all familiar, like “Barrow & Grove,” I didn’t remember ever hearing of it. There is a reason I hadn’t, it turns out ‘Barrow & Grove’ is a brand created and sold by Gilt, the company filed for the trademark last August.

Gilt.com

Gilt describes itself this way:

“Gilt Groupe provides instant insider access to today’s top designer labels, at up to 60% off retail. Join today to receive insider pricing on designer fashion, jewelry…”

Barrow & Grove doesn’t fit in my definition of top designer labels. It begs the question, where and when were the cashmere sweaters now “on sale” at $109 and $99 sold at $262 and $242? And it raises the issue of transparency, one is given the distinct impression they are purchasing ‘designer’ goods offered at upscale stores like Saks or Neimans when shopping at Gilt, not merchandise created specifically for Gilt.com. I’m sure the Barrow & Grove sweaters were lovely garments, but I would prefer knowing they are made for the site, as opposed to being told this:
Nothing says luxury like cashmere, and nothing says top-notch cashmere like one of our favorite new labels, Barrow & Grove.
Another site we enjoy (and have purchased from) is One Kings Lane, specializing in home design and interior decor.  But at times the items up for sale are… well, a little odd, to say the least. Our friend Meg, the delightful mind behind Pigtown Design, has done an outstanding series of posts under the banner OKL Madness. For example, she wondered about this item, a “Vintage Green Tackle Box” that was offered at $79.

One King Lanes via Pigtown Deisgn

As Meg noted in her post, the condition looks more like: “rusting and dents”. Another example she shared is this 1970s Vera Framed Scarf offered last week. For $849.

One Kings Lane

This example resonated because yours truly has quite a few vintage scarves by artist Vera Neumann in her possession, several in mint, pristine condition. And The Consort has had a vintage scarf or two framed as artwork in the past, so we’re well aware of prices for vintage silk scarves by name designers, as well as costs for very nicely framed items of this kind. IOHO referring to this as ‘madness’ is kind.  (BTW, for those on Pinterest Meg even has a OKL Madness board.)

When purchasing from any of the sites it is imperative to know shipping and return policies, this can be especially important if purchasing oversized or unusually shaped items for the home, StyleList offers more:

…although One Kings Lane offers returns on some products within a 14-day window, most items are marked final sale. Also, Gilt Home has a similar policy, stating they do accept decor returns but not “on discounted home items, as well as those delivered via in-home and special delivery services,” which pretty much includes all furniture.

In summation, it all comes down to knowing what you are buying, not just the price and availability of an item, but also shipping and return policies at any given site.  In order to make an educated purchase those factors should trump desire for the item, and the delivery timeline should also be factored in.  Knowing other available outlets for purchasing the item(s) should also play a part, both online and off-line, including what were once unconventional resources, like the Re-Lilly FB page.  Of course, if it’s merely a case of “see it – want it – buy it” then the impulse wins and none of this much matters. (Umm, we have also done that too.)

Part 1 of the series is here, Part 2 is here. If, after reading all of this yawn-inducing background you are interested in signing up for any of the sites, here are links to some where I have shopped *and* enjoyed a positive experience. Another interesting facet of the flash sale business model are the varying rewards offered for those referring customers, most offer merchandise credits of anywhere from $10 to $25 if someone uses your invitation link and also purchases something.

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Preppy Brands at Flash Sale Sites

Hello-Hello, today we continue with our look at flash sales, focusing on prep brands sold via this method.

Many of the companies offer sale events several times a year, almost on a quarterly basis, others may be sold even more frequently and some less often. Prices are generally very good, at least 25% off MSRP, with the majority of items marked down by 40% and more.  Special sale and promotional events (Sunday Night Styleathons at RueLaLa, Last Day Discount at another site) provide even deeper price cuts. Here are just a few names you know that can be found at the discount-driven sites: Lilly Pulitzer, Brooks Brothers, Vineyard Vines, Vera Bradley, Jack Rogers.

For example, Lilly Pulitzer will be back again this Thursday at Rue La La.

RueLaLa

Most recently Lilly was sold at RueLaLa in mid-May, that event featured the label’s stationery and gift items.

Even when there are multiple opportunities to purchase discount goods via flash sales, that does not translate into easy acquisition of merchandise you may covet. Why not? In part because there is a limited amount of inventory available, but also because there is an abundance of savvy shoppers very quick with the trigger finger, aka the ‘enter’ key. Lilly and other popular brands sell out very quickly. RueLaLa sales events generally start at 11am, it is not unusual to find a third or more of the inventory gone within seconds, there are that many people who are that fast.

As many know, RueLaLa is a dominant player in the flash sale market, that is where we have found Brooks Brothers on sale.

RueLaLa.com

Along with the retailer’s edgier, pricier Black Fleece line.

RueLaLa.com

Vineyard Vines also calls RueLaLa home for its flash sales.

RueLaLa.com

But as we mentioned Monday, many brands are now doing their own limited time sales, Vineyard Vines & Brooks Brothers among those having done this in the past. Below, two promotional images from previous flash sales the brands have conducted on their own websites.

Vineyard Vines/Brooks Brothers Black Fleece

We expect to see more of this in the future from a growing number of companies, as well as more brands ‘taking over’ a flash site, where they are the only thing offered. Below, an image from one such event at Gilt, Kate Spade was the brand showcased.

Gilt.com

Another brand many like, Vera Bradley, has been offered on a number of the sites. Back in 2009 (and possibly 2010) the line was found at RueLaLa, but most recently it has been on sale at Ideeli, the promotional image below is from this February.

Ideeli February 20, 2012

Handcrafted needlepoint accessories from Tucker Blair have been offered via Gilt, another industry leader.

Gilt.com

Smathers and Branson, the primary competitor to Tucker Blair, can be found at another site, more on that in a moment.

Another accessory brand sold at discounted prices, Jack Rogers.

RueLaLa.com

The photo above shows them at RueLaLa, Jacks have also sold at Gilt, the image shown below is from January, 2012.

Gilt.com January 23, 2012

You can also find brands many preps like offering house and home merchandise at the sites, like Macbeth Collection with its bright array of colorful containers and partyware. This piece is from an email campaign promoting a sale event at Haute Look, the site owned by Nordstrom.

HauteLook.com

Macbeth has also been sold at One King’s Lane, and is currently on sale at Beyond the Rack, through tomorrow (June 7).

BeyondtheRack.com

Jonathan Adler’s classic designs are occasionally offered, this image is from an April event at One King’s Lane.

One Kings Lane

Preppy Plates merchandise is also discounted with regularity.

RueLaLa.com

A sale at RueLaLa just wrapped up, but the line has also been sold via One Kings Lane, Joss and Main and perhaps other venues.

A few more preppish brands that can be found discounted, followed in parentheses by the specific sites where I *know* they have been sold, there may be many others I simply don’t know about:

  • Sperry (RueLaLa, MyHabit)
  • Sebago (Ideeli)
  • Nautica (Beyond the Rack, Ideeli,  and
  • Bill’s Khakis (RueLaLa)
  • Bonobos (Haute Look)
  • Lacoste (Ideeli, Beyond the Rack, The Top Secret)
  • Tommy Hilfiger (Gilt, Ideeli, Biva, Beyond The Rack, RueLaLa, etc.)
  • Patagonia (Gilt – men’s footwear)
  • Bungalow Scout (Zulily, One Kings Lane, Haute Look, name a site & the brand may well have been offered there)
In Monday’s post we mentioned Five Mile, carrying merchandise for men, especially those with an active, outdoor lifestyle.

FiveMile.com

The site has done sales featuring Smathers and Branson, Southern Proper, Columbia, Barbour, Filson, Southern Marsh, Castaway Clothing, Knot Belt Company and several others.

Another niche discounter that may hold appeal for readers, Uscoop, targeted primarily at a college demographic.

UScoop

Uscoop has done an outstanding job of engaging customers and potential customers through social media, it is a fun spot to visit. This is also the company that just launched Tuckernuck, many readers are already familiar with the new endeavor dealing in preppy style and related brands.  We will be writing about it in the future.

One more appealing online store has also recently launched, Country Club Prep. This venture is a members-only operation, but that is for membership rewards, etc., it is not a flash sale operation. (However, it is a site we enjoy, we will also be writing about CCP in the future.)

A few points to keep in mind:

1) Some brands offer different categories of merchandise via different outlets. Clothing can be found at one site, sunglasses at another, bedding and home goods at a third, perhaps accessories at a fourth.

2) Those tracking sales at multiple sites often set up a specific email account just to handle the email, I did that when deciding I wanted to research the topic for a series of posts; it allowed me to maintain sanity (kinda’ sorta’).

3) Other options for tracking online sales: Racked.com’s Morning Flash Sale Roundup is a good list, although shorter than some may like; for those who enjoy reading Sample Sales Site has an extensive list found here.

4) Following sites on Facebook and/or Twitter has its advantages, many offer additional information and photos on upcoming sales.

That’s it for now, we’ll be back in a few days with a look at the deals being offered… are they really bargains?

NOTE: If in need of an ‘invite’ (ahem) to any of the sites, those I trust are listed here (scroll to the bottom of the post), as well as Part One of our look at the flash sales phenomenon.

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About Those Flash Sale Sites

Today’s post is a bit of a departure from our normal fare. For months we have chatted with friends about those ubiquitous flash sale sites, a phenomenon almost unheard of until the last several years. Usually we talk about upcoming sales, new or different sites, and how good the bargains are; lately the conversation has focused more on that last theme. I finally decided to explore the topic, hoping it will provide a modicum of entertainment, perhaps you can even share input and insight from your own experiences.

Just a few years ago those in search of discounted merchandise visited factory outlets, or off-price retailers like TJ Maxx and Ross Dress for Less.  Upscale department stores also offered their unsold inventory at outlet shops like Saks Fifth Avenue’s Off Fifth and Neiman’s Last Call. (In fact, the “luxury off-price” business model proved so successful many of the high-end outlets now have merchandise made exclusively for sale at their discount stores and they continue to open even more off-price stores.)

But then These Troubling Times arrived. When the Great Recession hit, stores were faced with enormous amounts of unsold merchandise that was discounted, then discounted again, and perhaps several more times. In many cases it still didn’t sell. This was particularly true for luxury retailers, they had racks overflowing with merchandise no one wanted, or could afford to buy.

More in this story from Reuters:

“The original flash sales model for the U.S. exploded during a time when there was this huge abundance of excess inventory,” said Steven Dennis, founder of SageBerry Consulting and a former executive at retailer Neiman Marcus.

Gilt is credited with launching the first flash sale site in the US, but others soon followed. And they continue to follow, as explained in this story from The Business of Fashion.

“Gilt’s success also spurred hundreds of other competitors to enter the flash sales market, from start-ups like Ideeli and Rue La La to strategic players like Amazon’s MyHabit and Nordstrom’s Hautelook.”

For those unfamiliar with the flash sale sites we share a brief primer. They are referred to as “members only sites,” a term generally excoriated occasionally questioned in this space, as most anyone with an email address can “join”.  Once signed up, daily emails are sent with a list of that day’s offerings, as well as a preview of upcoming sales.

Below, the Haute Look landing page.

HauteLook.com

Most sites require that you sign in before showing whatever sales they are offering, although not every site requires a log-in immediately. Here is another home page example from Zulily, a site specializing in merchandise for “Moms, Babies and Kids”.

Zulily.com

Once past the sign-in page you see the specific sales in progress. A glance at Beyond The Rack’s sale events underway last Friday shows Burberry, Coach, and “limited edition pre-owned Chanel” among the offerings.

Beyond The Rack June 1, 2012

There are even “prep-centric” flash sale sites, like Five Mile.

FiveMile.com June 1, 2012

Brands offered by Five Mile are familiar to many a prep: Knot Belt Company, Southern Proper, Castaway, Salmon Cove, to name only a few.

FiveMile.com

Once you are signed in you can start doing your product perusal, always intriguing and generally a lot of fun. Should you want to purchase an item, things operate like any other e-commerce site. It is in order fulfillment that the process may be different: what you purchased may ship from any number of places. It could come directly from the original manufacturer, it may be shipped from the flash sale site’s warehouse, or from a third party. Sites are usually very good about posting estimated shipping dates, below we show examples gathered on Friday:

  • Editor’s Closet item description on a Chloe dress: “Ships same business day if ordered before 2pm EST”
  • Joss & Main French Laundry Pillow: “Expected Arrival Date: Between 07/18/2012 and 07/23/2012″
  • RueLaLa Vineyard Vines Men’s Polo: “Ships in 5-7 days”
  • Ideeli David Yurman Silver Ice Necklace: “Expected to ship between Jun 19 and Jun 25, 2012”

The broad range of delivery dates serves as a reminder shoppers need to pay attention to the fine print, especially if making a time-sensitive purchase like a gift, or something for a special occasion. One more caveat: popular brands, such as Lilly Pulitzer, sell out very (*very*) quickly. It is not unusual to see items marked as “sold out” less than a minute after an event has started.

The explosion in sites has been enormous, the marketplace is now crowded. Some of the larger companies like Gilt have expanded into new terrain with specialty shops like Gilt Taste.

Gilt Taste

There are offerings for almost any niche or interest or activity, from travel and tourism deals to artwork, daily deals and local bargains. An example of what one site is doing via CNN:

Home furnishings flash sale site One Kings Lane recently announced the addition of Vintage & Market Finds, where a selection of marked-down furniture, accessories and art are available for five days at a time as opposed to its usual 72-hour time frame and new items are added daily.

Another dilemma created by a crowded field? Consumers becoming overwhelmed by email offers landing in their electronic in-box around. A CNBC story from last week:

Email fatigue is one of the biggest challenges flash-sale sites face. Emails are the primary way of disseminating deals, but after a while web shoppers can tune out and unsubscribe. This was even more true as more flash-sale sites came on the scene and as active shoppers subscribed to more than one flash-sale site.

“It has gotten to be an incredibly crowded marketplace, and there is the risk that all these offers can overload consumers,” said Stephen Wyss, a partner in the retail and consumer practice at BDO.

With stores becoming far more savvy in what (and how much) merchandise they order, there has been a steep decline in the availability of all that bargain inventory, especially luxury brands. One outcome is the growth of themed sales, no longer grouping items just by brand or designer, but by theme. Merchandise may be grouped by season, like “Flirty Tops for Summer” or “Backyard BBQ Essentials”.

There are even manufactured sales, such as an event Gilt held the second week of May, a sale titled “Revenge: Emily’s Beach House,” playing off the popularity of the TV show.

Gilt. com 5/17/2012

Here is a portion of the sale description:

The Hamptons was Emily Thorne’s old neighborhood, until something happened that destroyed her family and their reputation. Years later, she has returned to right those wrongs.

While it’s a lot smaller than Grayson Estate next door, Emily’s beach house is no shack. It’s the epitome of laid-back yet luxurious East End style. This sale includes authentic props from the set of Revenge; the most well-known is the porch swing, originally built by Emily’s father. You’ll also find the pedestal table found on the patio, and a candlestick from the living room. We’ve complemented these props with accents, from artful dishware to sconce lights.

Another tactic, making deals to launch certain collections via one of the sites. As mentioned in Thursday’s post, the Trina Turk for Banana Republic collection was offered online at Gilt.com more than a full week before consumers can buy it at Banana Republic. (But the merchandise was not a bargains, pieces were sold at full price, the appeal being the chance to get items before anyone else.)

Gilt.com

Retailers have fought back by jumping into the arena, doing their own flash sales. Below, a screen grab of an email I received from Neiman Marcus.

Neiman Marcus

Another example, Brooks Brothers did a limited time sale this weekend offering up to 75% off its Black Fleece line, the following image is from a Brooks Brothers email promoting the sale.

Brooks Brothers

It isn’t just upscale retailers taking part.

Kohl’s

And some have moved their outlet stores online as well, J. Crew “opens” its online factory store during the weekend.

J. Crew

Another rapidly growing area is Facebook, many start-ups are offering flash sale sites on their fan pages, especially jewelry vendors. A photo of an item is shown, and the first shoppers who enter a comment saying they want the item are able to purchase it. Again, the sense of limited merchandise and a short time span prompts buying from those who don’t want to “let it get away,” or be “left out,” with actual financial transactions generally handled off-site.

We have been fortunate with many of the sites and made some *marvelous* purchases over the years, particularly back in the early days of the genre. Good products, great prices and solid service.  Later this week we’ll have Parts 2 & 3, looking at some of the more preppish brands sold on the sites, as well as an examination of just how good the deals really are these days… or not.

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ADDENDUM: If interested in signing up for any of the sites, here are links to some where I have shopped *and* enjoyed a positive experience. Another interesting facet of the flash sale business model are the varying rewards offered for those referring customers, most offer merchandise credits of anywhere from $10 to $25 if someone uses your invitation link and also purchases something.

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It’s That Time of Year!

Hello-Hello, and welcome to a new week.  We’re in an especially celebratory mood here at the Prepatorium because it’s our Annual “I’m No Fool” Sale, with the entire store 20% off!

That makes it a perfect time for early ordering of wedding and graduation gifts, our monogrammed iPad accessories from Clairebella are ideal gifts for the grad.

Clairebella at PreppyPrincess.com

Always great shower presents, Clairebella’s Personalized Cutting Boards and Melamine Platters, at 20% off these become a smart buy for the discerning gift-giver.

Clairebella at PreppyPrincess.com

As mentioned in Friday’s post, we’ve included our brand new Pink Pineapple jewelry collection in the sale, below we see the Nantucket Spout Whale Toggle bracelets and the Port Anchorage Anchor Toggle bracelet, both make a wonderful gift for the grad with nautical inclinations.

Pink Pineapple Jewelry at PreppyPrincess.com

Each is only $25.60 with the 20% discount; as always, we’ll gift box and wrap them for you at no additional charge, just let us know in the ‘comments’ section of the order form, we’re happy to do it!

Another stellar gift idea, personalized stationery. Our Preppy Ladybug designs are always popular, the Icon Flat Cards come twelve to a set, they are just $10 today!

Preppy Ladybug at PreppyPrincess.com

Other great buys today include our personalized Collegiate House and Garden Flags.

Collegiate House & Garden Flags at PreppyPrincess.com

Not to mention all of our Lilly Pulitzer, this spring’s new Melamine and Acrylic pieces are bright and beautiful.

Lilly Pulitzer Nice to See You & Luscious at PreppyPrincess.com

We’ve just added the snappy Jonathan Adler Ear Buds to our inventory, they’re cute as can be, $16 with today’s sale.

Jonathan Adler Ear Buds at PreppyPrincess.com

The soft silicone buds fit perfectly inside your ear, 6 ear bud tips are included, and best of all, the 46″ cord comes with a free cord keeper, for those of us a little, ahh, ‘ear bud challenged.’  They also match our Adler iPhone 4 cases, offering the opportunity for a coordinated look.

The “I’m No Fool Sale” also offers outstanding bargains on merchandise being discontinued that is *already* on sale, like our Jonathan Adler iPhone 3 Cases.

Jonathan Adler iPhone 3 Cases at PreppyPrincess.com

Originally $19.50, they are retailing for $15, with the additional discount the cases are only $12, a great price for a designer iPhone case!

Also a big bargain, the Scout Original Dean-O totes in solid pink, green and blue.

Scout Original Dean-O Tote at PreppyPrincess.com

Another bag we are closing out, the Gina Tote from Milano, a fab bag with a magnetic closure, 2 zippered pockets on the front, 1 zippered pocket on the back plus 2 more pockets inside, a big help for those of us who like to have things organized.

Gina Tote at PreppyPrincess.com

Originally the Totes were $29.50, but they’ve been marked down to $19.50, more than 35% off; with today’s additional savings they’re only $15.60.

Today’s goofy little post doesn’t even mention our goodies from Sloane Ranger, Lovie & Dodge, Boatman Geller, Sailor Bags or Kiel James Patrick, but they’re all included in the sale. Just use promo code APRILDEAL at checkout to receive your discount.

As always, we’re here to help if we can, don’t hesitate to give us a call, the toll-free line is 877-353-7737.

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Now, Now, Now… Can’t We all Play Nice? Apparently Not.

Hello-Hello, and Happy Friday!

Spat: a brief, petty quarrel or dispute

War –  noun, often attributive

b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end

We have updates to two previous stories today, beginning with that Martha Stewart and Macy’s spat war. Some may recall that Martha Stewart recently announced the sale of part of her company to Penney’s, despite the fact she sells her products at Macy’s, a Penney’s competitor.

Macy's

Of course, part of the deal is that Penney’s will sell Martha’s merchandise, the retailer has said it will open hundreds of mini Martha Stewart boutiques inside its stores. As one might expect, Macy’s is not amused. Here’s more from Business Week:

“Macy’s sued in January to stop New York-based Martha Stewart Living from executing an agreement to sell merchandise in J.C. Penney Co. stores.

Ouch.  Then it really gets nasty, with Martha’s lawyers saying that Macy’s is “essentially holding Macy’s hostage,” alleging:

“…the retailer has stocked and priced Martha Stewart products in a manner that favors Macy’s own private-label brands.

Business Week has a good story on the dispute, including predictions this will be settled out of court.

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Our other business battle is also a followup, this one is about the new C. Wonder stores.

Via Design Wire

The first store opened in Soho, since our post three more stores have opened, in Westchester, Paramus and Garden City.

Via

The Post reports Ms. Burch isn’t happy about the new stores her husband has opened.

A source close to the situation told us, “She is demanding Chris Burch shut down C. Wonder. The famously calm ice queen has lost her cool. She is furious and claims he has directly copied her business plan.”

While no lawsuit has been filed as yet, the source adds, “They are negotiating through lawyers. While Chris set up Tory Burch, his new stuff is identical and a third of the price. She wants him off the board of her company and for C. Wonder to close.”

Below, jewelry at C. Wonder.

Deidre Schoo for The New York Times

The Critical Shopper column in The Times on the store was titled “At C. Wonder, Something Feels Familiar“:

“Now the Burch brand is facing a puzzling retail riposte from her ex-husband, J. Christopher Burch, a venture capitalist who helped found her company and is still a chairman of its board…. he is opening a series of stores named C. Wonder that mirror Tory’s preppy style: go-to-hell colors, nautical flourishes, trim but conservative cuts. It’s unclear whether this is an amicable homage or a hostile takeover.”

Here is a side-by-side look at the two logos:

Logos from Facebook via The Daily Mail

The couple was married for ten years, 1996-2006.

Wire Image via The Daily Mail

More from the Alexandra Jacobs Critical Shopper column:

Maybe it’s a sign that the former missus has arrived, since Mr. Burch is also cheerfully knocking off Chanel, Goyard and Kate Spade — and those were just the influences I clocked in the foremost right quadrant of his new flagship on Spring.

Even the Daily Mail has written about it:

The venture capitalist has chosen an emblem that some see as being almost identical to his ex-wife’s now famous mirror image T’s.

Others like PR guru Kelly Cutrone, who is working with Mr Burch on a collection, argues that a man who has helped launch nearly 50 brands is fashion savvy enough to take credit for his own look.
Hmmmm. We need your thoughts ladies… is it too close for comfort?
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We leave you with a quick Sales & Savings Opportunity, a quick mention of about bargains at Bean, the company is doing a ‘Secret Sale’ this weekend, taking 20% off regular *and* sale prices. That make something on sale like the LL Bean Maine Isle flip flops $15.99, as opposed to $24.95.

LL Bean

The deal is good at both LL Bean and LL bean Signature line, use promo code FEB20 to receive the discount.

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Is Martha’s Latest Deal a Good Thing? Also, Sales & Savings of the Preppish Kind

Hello-Hello, and happy Wednesday Thursday to everyone.

Once again we apologize for the less-than-sporadic posts, the crush of business has translated into no time for blogging. With regrets, it’s possible we may only be able to do one or two more posts before Christmas, eeek!

Today we begin with last week’s news that Martha Stewart has made a deal JC Penney, quite a deal.  Penney’s is buying a piece of Ms. Stewart’s company, they will be selling Ms. Stewart’s merchandise at its stores.  Not everyone thinks this is a brilliant move for JC Penney; Women’s Wear Daily’s story on the news questions the wisdom of the arrangement:

It’s a brand that’s been bounced around from retailer to retailer, has lost some cachet and embraces styles and a color palette that’s tasteful, safe and not particularly compelling. The Stewart deal is far from the groundbreaking pact… to bring Sephora shops into Penney’s stores, which moved the retailer into the beauty category in a major way, brought in a slew of high-end brands — and lured younger, hipper consumers.

Readers are no doubt aware omni-Martha Martha Stewart is currently sold at Macy’s. (Not including Martha merchandise at Home Depot (shown below), at KMart, or at Michael’s, and perhaps other places your trusty scribe doesn’t know about.)

Home Depot

Back to the Macy’s part of the story, obviously the department store has made an enormous investment in Ms. Stewart.

Macy's

From all we have read and seen the arrangement has paid off for both parties. (Below we show the Martha Stewart Collection Biscuit Cutters and Digital Thermometer at Macy’s.)

Apparently Macy’s was not thrilled to learn of the deal, more on that angle from the WWD story:

Many believe that Macy’s was blindsided by the Penney’s deal, and that it’s possible Stewart didn’t disclose her intentions with Penney’s, though Macy’s would have expected her to, and to try to work on improving her Macy’s business before taking it to the competition.

A Wall Street Journal article offers this:

In a statement Wednesday, Macy’s said it will review its Martha Stewart product line for “potential changes” in light of “the proliferation of Martha Stewart-branded product in the marketplace.”

Ouch.

We forgot Martha at PetSmart.

Back to the WWD story:

“A retailer who has done business with Stewart said, “Her merchandise has never been a barn burner in terms of sales. The category is not something that ever skyrockets. This is not like Target investing in Michael Graves and creating really edgy highly acclaimed product…”

Hmmm, obviously we’ll be hearing more about this one.

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Our other topic today, all those seasonal Sales & Savings Opportunities, many offering some preptastic style statements.

Vineyard Vines

  • Vineyard Vines is offering an additional 30% off all sale merchandise, use code ELF for the discount
  • Tory Burch is doing ‘up to 30% off’ select handbags, jewelry & accessories’ along with free shipping on all orders
  • Ralph Lauren offers free shipping on all orders through the 20th, use code RLFS2011
  • Banana Republic is taking 30% off your entire order and doing free shipping with a $50 purchase, use code BRGET30 at checkout for the savings
  • Gapis touting it’s big sale and also offering free shipping with a $50 purchase

    The Gap

  • Sadly, Talbots continues to do whatever it can to move merchandise, everything is 40% off, including full price and sale merchandise.
  • Kate Spade has a solid amount of merchandise on sale and is providing free shipping to all 50 states
  • J. Crew is offering free shipping on any order today only (or so they say), use code JINGLE
  • Neimans, Saks, Nordstrom and almost all of the major department stores are offering either sales, clearances and/or promotional pricing. Neiman’s Last Call(in stores & online) is also doing 40% off one regular priced item through the 16th, as well as an additional 30% off your entire purchase through the 22nd

    Neiman Marcus Last Call

We leave you with this, Bergdorf’s fabulous holiday video about the store going to the dogs.

"Unleashed" by Bergdorf Goodman

Ho-Ho-Ho. May your holidaze Christmas and Hanukkah preps be going well.

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Les Bal de Debutantes & Hollywood Preppy?

Hello-Hello, welcome to another wacky Wednesday here at the Prepatorium. How wacky? This should give you an idea.

The Prepatorium

The tree in this photo is normally vertical.

The Preptorium

Harrumph. (In reality it is very pretty, we aren’t complaining at all.)

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Next on the hit parade, a brief look at last weekend’s Bal des Debutantes at the Crillon.

The Daily Mail

Among those officially being launched into society, Sarah Margaret Qualley, seen below with her mother, actress and model Andi MacDowell.

The Daily Mail

The annual gala was Saturday, held at the Crillon, as the event name suggests. Tallulah Belle Willis, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, is another young lady who made her debut. Below we share a twitter photo of the three Willis sisters, from left to right: Rumer, Tallulah and Scout Willis posted by Rumer Willis.

Rumer, Tallulah and Scout Willis via Twitter

Here is a more formal reminder of the event, this is Sarah Margaret Qualley’s official portrait, she wore a gown by Elie Saab Haute Couture.

Marc Piasecki-FilmMagic via Fashion Magazine

A total of 23 young ladies were part of Saturday’s presentation.

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Also today, a look at what some might call “Hollywood Preppy”.

Reel Art Press

The topic is examined in a new book, Hollywood and the Ivy Look, more from this story:

In the decade between 1955 and 1965 a coterie of discerning Hollywood hipsters appropriated the incomparable Ivy League clothing of America’s East coast elite. These West Coast actors elevated the Ivy look to the height of cool and defined a quintessentially American male dress code for a new generation of movie audiences.

The new book looks like it would be a wonderful read, certainly ideal on the coffee table, great for kicking off cocktail party conversation.

mptvimages.com via The Sabotage Times

We know someone who might think the photo of Paul Newman is well worth the purchase price for the entire book. More on the new tome from its publishers, Reel Art Press.

From the button-down hip of Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Anthony Perkins to the preppy sensibilities of Woody Allen and Dustin Hoffman; the understated but carefully selected components of the Ivy look didn’t shout ‘look at me’ but instead gave off an image of approachable correctness and laid back confidence.

Much as I adore Sidney Poitier, I am struggling with that particular version of pink and green.

The Kobal Collection-Warner Bos(L)/Photofest (R) via The Sabotage Times

Robert Redford and Montgomery Clift.

The Kobal Collection-Paramount (L)/

The book is available in the US via Amazon.

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One quick Sales & Saving Opportunity to share, tomorrow flash sale site Gilt.com is featuring Kate Spade throughout the site, here is more from a news release about the event:

“kate spade new york will completely take over the site offering products for women, accessories, beauty, men (Jack Spade), home and stationary, including the Adeline Adeline kate spade Bicycle collaboration and an exclusive first look at the kate spade new york 2012 resort collection. Gilt will be offering the collection to our members before it is available anywhere else!”

The sale begins at noon tomorrow (Thursday), it runs through midnight, Monday, Dec. 5th.  For anyone not yet a Gilt member, we have been asked to suggest this link for you to sign up.

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Our Christmas idea for today is from Smathers & Branson.

Smathers & Branson

Needlepoint ornaments are cute as can be, and if you aren’t into making them yourself, the good folks at Smathers & Branson offer a nice selection for your tree, door handle, whatnot.  (My fave is the sailboat.)

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