Friday, April 15, 2016

My Experience at the 2016 Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale

Yesterday was my day to shop at the Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale. It was a really fun day and now I'm sad that I have to wait another year to do it again.

I wanted to share with you a few notes about my experience and some pictures I took along the way. I shopped with my best friend Tricia and our moms. We are all veteran VBAS shoppers.

This post got longer than I anticipated, but I had a lot to say about the sale this year.

We arrived at the Coliseum about an hour before our 11:00 session. This year, we were directed to enter through the new conference center. There were lots of signs indicating where to enter. Once inside, it was a little confusing where to enter the line, but we eventually figured it out and joined the shoppers already waiting.

They actually ended up opening the door to the sale about 5 minutes early and we were into the sale fairly quickly.

Since I had already scoped out the map and determined that many of the things I wanted to look at were in the yellow row, my plan was to walk up the yellow row and grab things while heading for the Last Chance tables that were in the back of the sale.

I actually ended up getting distracted by all the products and activity around me and it took me a few minutes to focus on the task of shopping for what I wanted. I really wanted to take pictures of all the signs, but I needed to focus on my shopping first.

While walking up the yellow row, I spotted the Glennas and even though I thought I wasn't going to get one this year, I ended up grabbing one in Cheery Blossoms after also considering one in Lucky Dots. I always grab stuff even if I don't think I'll get it because it may not be there later.

I also found the Laptop Messengers in the yellow row and ended up grabbing one in Impressionista. The other bags I wanted to consider were in the yellow row, but I was still distracted and didn't look at my list to figure out which ones they were. I decided to keep heading towards the Last Chance tables and come back to find those bags.

I found the hair accessories in the Orange row and found some Colorful Hair Clips in Midnight Houndstooth and Cheery Blossoms. I actually couldn't remember what patterns I had said I wanted on my wish list! I also looked at the Stretch Headbands, but stupidly didn't grab one at this point.

Still moving towards those elusive Last Chance tables, I spied the Mini Notebooks and stopped to look them over. I had spied a couple patterns I wanted in pictures the day before, but those patterns were already gone. I grabbed the last one in Alpine Floral and then looked through the others, but didn't love any of them enough to grab another. I also discovered that the newer Mini Notebooks have a softer, more flexible cover instead of the hard cardboard cover I like.

I then finally made it to the Last Chance tables only to discover that they were very crowded and that there wasn't anything on them I wanted. They had a lot of tablet covers, accessories, and bags that just didn't interest me. There were some awesome deals on those tables though if you were interested in those things.

At this point, I got out my list and forced myself to find the things on it before doing any more browsing. Eventually, I felt that I had everything I'd came for in my bag and searched out the rest of my party at our meeting area.

I actually ended up by the leather purses at one point and I couldn't resist looking them over and touching them. They are so soft! I fell in love with the Quilted Emma Tote in blush, but at almost $150, it was out of my budget unless that was the only thing I got. Sadly it's retired, so I probably will never get one, but I did get a picture with it!

Blurry, but this is probably the closest I'll ever get to owning one
Once I met up with my party, we began our sorting and doing some math. I had considered the other 3 bags I wanted to look at during the sale - the Triple Zip Hipster, the Cargo Sling, and the Carryall Crossbody, but ended up not grabbing any of them because I felt like they just weren't the right size for everyday use. I was really still distracted by the crowd and the excitement that now I feel I may not have given them proper consideration. Oh well, there's always next year!

We actually ended up doing something we never do and closed down the sale. We didn't get into line until 1:30! It was actually nice because the sale floor was so empty at the end, but we had quite a wait in store for us to check out.

The computers ended up crashing and we actually waited in line for over 2 hours. That is not normal for the sale and I will say that once the problem was fixed, the line moved very quickly. And while I do feel that this shouldn't happen 2 days in a row, Vera did try to make it right and offered us free items and a $10 discount. I used the downtime to update the price chart until my phone nearly died.

Things I Didn't Like This Year
  • Ok Vera, let's talk about this lack of pricing thing. You don't put prices on the guide. That's fine. I actually like doing the price chart and providing that for people. Most of them are really grateful for this completely free and voluntary thing I offer. But, you need to be more consistent with the signs at the sale. Some of them were in holders nice and high and some of them were taped to the edge of the tables. Have you tried to read signs that are down low when there's such a crowd around the table that you have to reach your arm through and blindly grab something? It's impossible.
  • And then just to make things really interesting, the price scanners weren't working! I couldn't remember how much something I had grabbed was and I ended having to go all the way back to where I had found it to search for a sign because it wasn't on my price chart yet.
  • The computer crashes. It happened Wednesday and then it happened again on Thursday. I don't know what happened or what could be done to prevent it, but seriously look into this and fix it, because it was insane and while I was patient and understanding, there were a lot of upset people. 
  • Social media confusion. First, Vera Bradley changed the hashtag for this year, so there was a lot of confusion about which hashtag to use. Then, they posted guides for the sale on their blog stating that school faculty day was on Friday but announced Thursday morning on Twitter that it was faculty day on Thursday as well. That's not helpful for the many teachers that left their school IDs safely at home or at school where they're actually needed. Special things like that need to be announced well in advance and be publicized better. Don't just put it on your blog. Tweet it, post it on Facebook, announce it on Instagram, and send a clearly worded e-mail.  
Things I Liked This Year
  • Waiting in the new conference center! This was awesome! I loved not having to go upstairs and circle around the arena. I felt like we got into the sale quickly because we were already nearly at the door. I even liked the entertainment provided even if the announcer was too loud and you could only win a prize if you were up front. 
  • Product variety! There were so many great items at this year's sale. For the first time, there were Throw Blankets still available at our session. And there were a lot of them! Sadly, it wasn't in my budget to get one.
  • Unique patterns! I saw lots of things available in the new outlet store pattern, Chandelier Floral. Tricia's mom got an amazing purse in Blue Sierra, which has only been available on QVC so far. I know some people scored things in Nomadic Floral which isn't out yet. 
  • Organization! Things were where the map said they would be, similar styles were close together which made finding things a breeze.
  • Prices and markdowns! I saw lots of things already marked down, although nothing I got was marked down. Also, there were many things that were super cheap throughout the sale, not just on the Last Chance tables. Prices were pretty consistent or even lower than last year. Again, you do need to consider original price and such to make sure you're getting a good deal. 
Here's what I bought....

Cooler Tote in Marrakesh
Laptop Messenger Bag in Impressionista
Glenna in Cheery Blossoms
Lanyard in Flower Shower
Colorful Hair Clips in Midnight Houndstooth and Lucky Dots
Stretch Headband Set in Midnight Paisley
Mini Notebook in Alpine Floral
Binder Clips in Impressionista
Pencil Tin in Hello Dahlia
In the Loop Keychain in Lucky Stripe
Not pictured -
Wash and Wear Organizer in Tango Red - this was our free item for the computer issues
 something I got for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day

What did I put back? 

I did better than usual about grabbing extra stuff. I only put back some things that were doubles of things I had grabbed. I had grabbed Colorful Hair Clips in Cheery Blossoms because I couldn't remember which patterns I had on my wish list. A quick check of my own blog and I was reminded I wanted Lucky Dots. It took some digging, but I found them. So, Cheery Blossoms went in the discard bin. I had grabbed 2 lanyards to decide between and put back one in Flutterby. I also discarded a Triple Stretch Headband in Midnight Houndstooth and an In the Loop keychain in Midnight Stripe

How did my wish list go?

I never even grabbed any of the other bags I was considering. I know I said I wasn't going to get a Glenna, but how could I resist that beautiful Cheery Blossoms? I got my must have Laptop Messenger, Mini Notebook, and Colorful Hair Clips. The Cooler Tote was on my Pinterest Wish List and I was surprised to find it at the sale.

When we finally left the sale, we headed to Cheddar's for our traditional post sale meal. Thanks to e-mail coupons, we scored a free appetizer and a free dessert. Check out this amazing hot fudge cake sundae! It was delicious and well deserved after the experience we had at the sale.

We also hit up Tim Horton's for Tim Bits and then Jefferson Pointe to check out the Vera Bradley store there. We were disappointed to find that the Williams Sonoma had closed.

Despite the nightmare of having to wait to check out for over 2 hours, we had an awesome day of shopping. We were all thrilled with what we purchased and we had a fun day. I can't wait for next year's sale!

Have any questions about the Outlet Sale or Vera Bradley? Feel free to ask them in the comments or over on the Argyle Love Facebook page.

What did you get at the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale?


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale Wish List

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small amount of compensation which I will then use to buy more Vera. 

I'm making my trip to the Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale next week. The sale is crowded and chaotic, so it helps to go prepared. I like to make a wish list of items to look for first before I attempt to browse the rest of the sale.

Today, I'm sharing with you my Vera Bradley Outlet Sale wish list.

Laptop Messenger Crossbody

This is the one bag I am really hoping to get at the sale this year. I've been carrying my laptop in a Vera, but I'd really like something more secure for it. Ideally, I'd like this bag in Impressionista, but I'm not sure that'll be available this year. I'd also take Katalina Pink or Rosewood, or a solid color.

Colorful Hair Clips
I love these clips! I already have them in Go Wild, Flower Shower, and Ribbons. They are great for keeping shorter hairs secure when I wear my hair in a ponytail all summer for my camp job. This year, I'd like to get them in Midnight Houndstooth and Lucky Dots.

Mini Notebook with Pocket

I love these Mini Notebooks! I carry one in my purse for shopping lists and it's the perfect size. I also use one for camp for keeping track of things to remember and notes to myself. I'm not picky about what pattern I get because all of my Mini Notebooks are currently in use and I need backups! I also wouldn't say no to some regular notebooks as well.

I usually pick up a new purse for myself during the Outlet Sale. For the past few years, I've been getting Glennas and I really love that style. Thankfully, it's not retired, yet! This year, I don't feel as if I need another purse. I have enough to rotate them and I like the ones I have. I will probably look to see what patterns are at the sale, but I'm not planning on buying one unless I find one I can't live without.

However, I'm also planning on looking at a couple other purses. I started using a Happy Planner this year and it is much bigger than planners I've used previously. In fact, it barely fits in my Glenna. I really like the planner, though, so I thought I'd see if there is another style of purse that would fit my planner better.

Here are the bags I'm going to try to check out at the sale -

Triple Zip Hipster

I'm interested in a crossbody bag that I can use every day. I love Hipsters, but they don't hold enough for everyday use.

Cargo Sling Crossbody

I like that this one can be worn as a crossbody or over the shoulder. I also like that it has lots of pockets.

Carryall Crossbody

Again, I like that this one can be worn over the shoulder or as a crossbody bag. According to the measurements on the Vera Bradley website, this one is bigger than a Glenna, but the pictures seem smaller. I guess I'll have to check it out in person!

Of course, I have other items I'm interested in getting, but unless the price is right, they aren't as important as these items. Check out my wish list on Pinterest to see more of what I'm wishing for!

What's on your Vera Bradley wish list?

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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tips for the 2016 Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale

The Vera Bradley event of the year is in 2 weeks and I cannot wait! The Vera Bradley Annual Outlet sale is held every year in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's an arena full of handbags and accessories all at a discount price. For me, it's just as good as Christmas!

Basically, once you enter, you grab a big plastic bag and a price sheet and then it's time to shop! My plan is to grab anything I think I might want and stuff it in my bag. Then, when I've browsed everything, I find a spot and sort through what's in my bag. Rejected items are placed in nearby boxes and carts to be restocked by Vera workers.

After making my decisions and any final sweeps around the arena, it's time to pay! There are always tons of registers and the lines move pretty quickly.

To prepare for the sale, I try to make a list of styles I want to look at the most. These are the items that I will head to first before taking some time to mosey through the rest of the sale. I'll share my wishlist for the sale soon, so come back to check it out!

Just about every current and retired style of bags and accessories will be at the sale. What's unknown is exactly which patterns will be available. Based on what I've seen at previous years' sales, I can usually make a pretty good prediction of what I'll see. I try to identify which patterns I would most like prior to the sale. This is especially helpful if you are attending the sale with a group. Your friends can help by grabbing things in the pattern you want if you want to split up to shop and then meet back up to sort. (Of course, you'll help out your friends by grabbing what they want.)

I've found that the patterns are mostly ones that have been retired since the previous year's sale as well as some that are going to be retired after the sale. These are often the colors listed as "sale" on the Vera Bradley website

So, what colors do I expect to see at the Sale? I usually say it's a good bet we'll see plenty of the patterns that have been retired since the last sale, but at the 2013 sale, there were lots of new patterns available, so it's really anyone's guess. However, I would not set my hopes on a getting a new pattern and instead be pleasantly surprised if they're available this year.  I believe that most of the available patterns will be retired patterns.

 Starting with the colors most recently retired and their coordinating patterns...
Katalina Blues
Katalina Showers
Katalina Pink
Katalina Pink Diamonds
Blue Bandana
Petite Red Bandana Paisley

Then, those retired last November...
Marrakesh Motifs
Pixie Blooms
Pixie Confetti
Midnight Paisley
Midnight Houndstooth
 And, the patterns that retired last August...

Rio Squiggle
Rio Stripe
Lucky You
Lucky Dots
Ziggy Zinnia
Ziggy Zags
Pink Swirls
Pink Swirl Flowers
 And finally, the patterns that were retired just after last year's sale...

African Violet
Leopard Spots
Moon Blooms
Moon Drops
Emerald Paisley
Cherry Blossoms

As in previous years, there will also be older patterns available in select styles, but it's tough to predict just what exactly will be available. For example, I've been seeing Night Owl every year since 2010. Your best bet is to look over the Sale section of the Vera Bradley website to get an idea.

Retired styles are usually available in all patterns that they were made. Theoretically, you could find a bag in a Spring 2016 or Summer 2016 pattern, but I've found that anything that new tends to disappear fast. Your best bet of scoring those will happen in the first few sessions on Wednesday.

What about prices? Exact prices won't be known until the sale opens, but looking at previous years' prices can give you an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind, that beginning the second day of the sale, prices may start dropping. Just a few on the second day, then more as the sale goes on. Just keep in mind, the later in the sale you go, the less selection you may have to choose from. I value selection over price, so the second day works well for me.

To help give an idea of prices, I made a chart comparing the prices I could find from sales over the past few years. I'll be updating this as I find out prices from this year's sale. Keep in mind, the prices on the chart are the starting price; I did not include any markdowns that occurred as the sale went on.

Vera Bradley Outlet Sale Price Comparison

This will be my 9th Vera Bradley Outlet Sale and I've picked up a few tips along the way.
  • Use a crossbody handbag or a smaller purse. It gets crowded in the arena as you can see from the pictures and believe me, you'll want your hands free to shop!
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. You're going to be on your feet the whole time. Don't wear flip flops or you risk having your foot stepped on.
  • A couple years ago, several readers suggested using a tote or larger bag to hold their shopping. I was buying a tote for my mother-in-law, so I stuffed my other shopping in it and it was awesome. It was much easier to carry than the plastic bag you are given. If you are not going to purchase the tote you use, I would suggest making sure you use one that is well stocked so that you don't take away somebody else's chance at getting that bag.  There are boxes at the registers to put back items you do not want to purchase.
  • Check the inside of the items you are purchasing. Now that Vera Bradley is making outlet versions of items, some items will have a satin lining instead of a quilted cotton inside. If it's important to you that you get the classic quilted cotton, I highly recommend you open up items and check them prior to putting them in your shopping bag. Last year, these were all mixed together, so I checked everything I was looking at.
  • Bring your registration and your ID. There are usually computers set up to print off your registration, but you'll have to wait in line. Save time and do it before you arrive. You will not be able to purchase anything without your ID, so make sure you have it!
  • Please don't bring young children! There is no way I'd bring a small child to the sale. It's crowded and you won't enjoy yourself if you have to worry about keeping your child with you at all times. I'm going with my best friend, Tricia, and she is leaving her adorable toddler at home. He's a great shopper, but she knows that the Outlet Sale is no place for a child that young. I'm so glad I have responsible friends who value the safety of their children.
  • This is not the mall, do not bring a stroller! You will only annoy everyone else and your baby really doesn't belong. If I couldn't get a babysitter, I wouldn't go to the sale. I really cannot stress this one enough. Last year, there were tons of strollers. It is very crowded in the sale and at times, impossible for an adult to just walk through the crowd. A stroller will only make your shopping experience less enjoyable and unsafe.
Don't forget to like the Argyle Love Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. New this year, I'm on Snapchat! My username is ArgyleLove. I'm still new to it, but I'm going to try to snap during the sale. (It'll be crazy in there, so no promises!)  I'll try to tweet from the sale and hopefully share some pictures too. Also, follow my friend Trish on her Twitter and Instagram. We're shopping together and I'm sure she'll have things to share too!

And finally, remember to have fun! Score some great deals and enjoy being in the company of other Vera Bradley lovers.

Any questions? Leave them in a comment below and I'll try to answer them!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lent 2016

With the Lenten season starting tomorrow, I wanted to share what I'm giving up this year.

I'm doing my traditional thing and giving up pop. I've really fallen off the wagon with this one lately and have been drinking far too much pop. I hope avoiding it for the next  6 weeks will help me get back to only drinking it occasionally.

I usually give up chocolate as well, but this year I decided to really challenge myself.  This year, I'm giving up all sweets. That's right, no cookies, no cake, no ice cream, no candy. I hoping this will help me eliminate a lot of needless sugar from my diet. I anticipate I'll be eating a lot of fruit to fill my sweet cravings.

M and I are also giving up eating out this year. We do make exceptions for if someone else wants to buy us a meal or if we use a gift card. Basically, we're trying to eliminate spending money on meals when we can eat at home.

Here's hoping that our Lenten sacrifices can help us develop new habits.