This past weekend, I was able to go to the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
My dress matched the jeep!
(A quick background on the sale… While the brick-and-mortar Lilly stores have small sale sections, Lilly Pulitzer isn’t like most retailers where they have a constant sale section online. Instead, they have several big sales each year–normally two online sales, one in January called New Year Cheer, and one in August called Endless Summer Sale. Then, there is usually one-two warehouse sales in Pennsylvania. However, this year, there’s only one warehouse sale. In my opinion, I think it’s because they’ve started selling via Rue La La and don’t need two massive sales to move their clearance.)
I’ve had a lot of girls ask me via Instagram and email whether or not the Warehouse Sale is worth it. (There’s also a good deal of discussion on the Relilly and Shifting Lilly Facebook groups.) A lot of girls seem to think it’s not worth it because of the reduced amount of inventory and increased amount of shoppers.
Here’s my opinion.
If you live close enough to Pennsylvania to make the drive in a reasonable amount of time, I think it’s worth a visit. I live in Northern Virginia, and I was able to leave on Thursday around 12 PM and make it to PA by 4 PM to shop before the sale closed. I knew I didn’t want to drive back that night, so I got a cheap hotel room under $100 nearby and spent the night. Then, I shopped Friday morning, and then got home by 6 PM on Friday. (Quite a whirlwind 24 hours!)
What I packed for my trip!
A lot of the press for this sale comes from the fact that some Lilly lovers are willing to start camping out earlier in the week in order be one of the first let into the sale. (By camping out, I mean people pitched tents and had air mattresses and slept outside for a few days.) I have to be honest–as much as I love Lilly, I think the only way you’re getting me to sleep outside for days is to guarantee I get a bajillion dollar gift card for free.
Are there perks to camping out? Yes. See, the best part of the sale is a section called Samples and Seconds. This is where the best deals are found on items that have been returned, samples that never made it to production, or clothes used in visual displays. This section has a lot of treasures, but it never gets restocked. Being the first person to start digging would definitely have its perks.
But, do you have to camp out to get the deals?
Not at all. I arrived at the sale around 4 PM on Thursday. After waiting in line outside for maybe ten minutes, I got my giant pink bag and went inside.
The first few seconds is definitely a little overwhelming–there is SO MUCH STUFF and SO MANY PEOPLE. I took a moment to get my bearings, and then dove into the Sample section.
At this point, I started grabbing anything in prints I liked or my size. This is not the time to agonize over each selection, but instead, take now, and analyze later. After about ten minutes, my bag got so heavy that my shoulder was aching, but I didn’t want to lose my spot. I kept filling it until I’d made it through all the different sample boxes, and then I retreated to a quieter corner to sort.
Things I found? The best were the Elsa blouses for $15 and $20 (both printed and solid). I also grabbed a shell-printed maxi for $20 for a friend who was coming later that night, and a hot pink lace dress for $30. Murfees for $30, and then a Shoreline tote for $34. There was a Loopy tunic for $40, and a silk Escape Artist top for $30.
Once I finished the samples, I spotted a Daylin dress in Bubbly print. (The navy with white octoupuses. Octopi?) Right as I started going over to get, another girl grabbed it and stuffed it into her bag. The very competitive part of me wanted to try to snatch it back from her, but then I calmed down and realized I shouldn’t freak out over printed fabric.
In the corner, an older lady was guarding a big pile of clothes, and I saw the dress hanging near her. So, I went over and asked her if she was going to be keeping that dress or if I could have it. She was very sweet and said she was going to keep it, but that she would keep her eyes peeled for me and grab my size if I saw it. (That was another thing about this sale–I didn’t have a bad experience at all. Most people are very kind if you treat them with kindness first, and this lady checked in with me a few times to see if I found it yet.)
After checking the entire gigantic room for my Bubbly Daylin dress, I finally realized that there was a big, curtained off section where associates were hanging clothes back up and bringing them back to the floor. If you are looking for something specific, this is a great place to wait. (As each rack came out, girls would descend on it like locusts. It was pretty funny to watch.) Finally, I got a little tired of waiting, so I asked an associate if she wouldn’t mind checking for my size for me. She said she really wasn’t supposed to, but then smiled and said she’d do it. A few minutes later, she emerged with my dress! (Again, I think being kind just gets you places.)
(My Haul from Day One! I’m going to estimate that everything here was about $400 total. The total retail value was close to $1600!)
At this point, it was close to 6:30, and I knew I needed to leave to go meet Caroline for dinner. (See my interview with her here!) The line for checkout seemed really long, but it moved quick enough. I was out by 7 PM.
After dinner, I got some sleep and planned to be up early to shop on Friday. We got up around 5 AM to grab coffee, and then was in line for the sale at 6 AM. We were in the first group to be let in when it opened at 7 AM, and again, we beelined right for the sample section.
I didn’t get as much on Friday…mostly because the sample section was looking pretty depleted. I did snag a Coraline dress for my friend for like $40, and in return, she found me a silk Loopy tank for $20. (One that I really wanted when it was full price–glad I waited!) I also found one more Elsa for $20.
I also got these pants for like $20, but I’m a little terrified to actually wear them.
When you check out from the Warehouse Sale, you receive a coupon to be used at the Lilly Pulitzer King of Prussia Sale. So, we headed over, and because I had a little bit of leftover money, I got a Riley Infinity scarf in Tusk In Sun print and an Eliza Dress in the Spa Blue Let’s Cha Cha. (Weirdly, neither one is available online, but if you call the store, they should be able to get it for you!)
It was quite a Lilly filled weekend, that’s for sure. If I had to leave you with any final advice, it’d be:
1. Manage Your Expectations. (This is actually great life advice too.) If you go to the sale and hope that you score your holy grail dress for $20, then you will be disappointed. For me, I went hoping to snag a few pieces at a great price and have a good time. I was not disappointed.
2. Know Your Lilly. I’m a wee-bit obsessed with Lilly, mostly because I spend a lot of time researching prints and buying/selling used pieces. When you are digging through boxes at light speed, it helps to know the intrinsic value of things. I grabbed certain pieces because I recognized the print, or because I know a certain style is hard to find. I actually started laughing at one point. My shopping buddy and I are both very educated in the art of Lilly, and at one point, we had a few ladies following us around and waiting for us to sort through our bags so they could have the leftovers.
3. Know Your Size. If you have any modicum of modesty, trying things on here can be nightmarish. There is a huge communal dressing room where everyone just strips down and tries items on, but people were also just stripping on the main floor. (In front of Dads! And Boyfriends! Ugh, I’m like cringing thinking about it.) The dressing room wasn’t so bad, but the line to get in was super long. I shopped super quick because I pretty much know what will fit me and what won’t. (I also wore a very light knit dress that I could wear underneath anything I tried on over my clothes.)
4. Use the Buddy System. I was lucky enough to have a few ladies I’m already friends with that I knew would be at the sale. (One of them was one of the first hundred camping out in line!) Bless her heart, she took some time Thursday morning to snag me FOUR Elsas for $20 each. (I didn’t end up loving every single color, but I know I can resell those on eBay pretty quickly! Nothing like making back the cost of your trip!) I also shopped in person with another friend, and we pulled things for each other. Two sets of eyes are better than one! It also helps to let your buddies know your sizes and favorite prints.
5. Know Your Budget. It’s always smart to go in with a budget, mostly because it’s easy to start freaking out and wanting to buy everything because it’s cheap. Being able to sit in the corner and objectively sort through my bag and figure out what I actually wanted and what I wanted just because it was on sale was important, and it helped me not make impulsive decisions.
Meeting some fellow Lilly Lovers!
Did anyone else go to the sale? Did you get anything good? Or do you have any other tips that could help people next year? Let me know!