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?


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