Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Review of my 2018 Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale Purchases

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. 

Now that it's almost time to shop the 2019 Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale, it's time to start planning. Tickets are still available for the first three days of the sale on Ticketmaster. Vera Bradley only charges $5 for the tickets, but Ticketmaster added another $8 in ridiculous fees, so be prepared for that nonsense.

One thing I thought might be helpful for planning is to review the items I purchased at last year's sale. I try to plan and make lists before the sale, but once you're on the sales floor and the pressure of the crowds and time is on you, decision-making can be pretty frantic. So, now that I've had my items for nearly a year, how do I feel about my purchases?

As a reminder, here are the items I purchased at last year's sale.

Grand Tote 2.0 - I first bought one of these at the 2017 sale, and I loved it so much and used it so much that I bought another one at last year's sale. I've used them so much that I'll probably buy another this year. It's a great bag!

Carryall Crossbody - This bag is the perfect size for carrying all my stuff, and it has the right amount of pockets for my needs. I really love it, and I'm sad that it's retired. One negative about this style is that since I do wear it as a crossbody, it gets worn in one spot that rubs against me when I wear it. It's happened to both of the Carryall Crossbodies that I've bought. I'm still hoping to snag another one at this year's sale.

Lighten Up Grande Backpack - I've been meaning to get a backpack for day camp for a while, and this was finally the year I got one. I wanted a Lighten Up one because I needed something that could sit on the ground at our parks without getting too dirty like the cotton backpacks would. This one is a great size and easily holds all my daily stuff. They don't make this style anymore, but the Vera Bradley Lighten Up Grand Backpack is similar. 

Swimwear Wristlet - I picked this up at the Last Chance table because I was looking for something that would hold all my stickers in my teacher bag and not take up too much room. This works perfectly for that. Honestly, I'm not sure how you'd get a swimsuit in there unless you wear tiny suits or stuff one in there.

Mini Notebook with Pocket - I always buy at least one at the sale. They are perfect for carrying in my purse for shopping lists. I haven't used this one because I just started using the one I got at the 2016 sale. But that won't stop me from buying one at this year's sale.

Hair Accessories Kit - Honestly, I only bought this because it was one of the few things I found in the Playful Penguins pattern. It comes with some bobby pins, hair ties, and a headband. I haven't used anything in this yet, but I think it could be handy to carry hair things when I travel.

Cozy Convertible Mittens - My mom found these for me at the sale, and I almost didn't buy them. I'm glad I did, though, because I do like them. They are super cozy, and I like that they can convert from fingerless gloves to mittens. I carried them in my coat pocket all winter, but I didn't wear them much. (I avoid going outside in weather that requires gloves as much as possible.)

Flannel Pajama Pants - The one thing I hate about buying clothing at the sale is the fact that you can't really try it on. I guessed on the size, but it turned out just right. I love these pants. They are soft and comfy and super cute! 

Iconic In the Loop Keychain - I really like this keychain. It makes it easy to find my keys in my purse, and it's a perfect size to fit on your wrist if you have your hands full. I'll probably get another one this year. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with my purchases last year. I think having a wishlist and doing some research helps me make good choices in the chaos of the sale. I've already started this year's list and will share it with you soon.

And don't forget to check back later for my annual tips post for the 2019 sale. I'll be making predictions about patterns we'll see at the sale. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

My Experience at the 2018 Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale

I know, I know, I dropped off the face of the Earth for a while there and never wrote this post. I typically post this the day after I go to the sale, but life was kind of crazy then. You might remember that our area had historic flooding and our basement was full of water. We were finally able to move back into our house the day after I went to the sale. My plan had been to write the post that weekend, but it never happened. And then summer camp planning kicked into gear, and then it was summer and I was working all the time. Last fall, I taught 2nd grade full time for 8 weeks and boy was that exhausting! And this winter I picked up a new job with the parks department working at our ice rink.

Anyway, long story made slightly shorter, life got in the way, but here I am and I'm finally writing this post. I can't promise this will be as detailed as my usual posts because it was nearly a year ago and I don't remember everything anymore. I did jot down a couple notes to myself after the sale and I took pictures at the sale, so hopefully, I can at least give you a good overview of what happened last year.

Yesterday Thursday, April 12, 2018, was my day to shop at the Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale. It was a really fun day and I can't wait 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.

We arrived at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum about an hour before our 11:00 am session. As we have the past two years, we entered through the conference center and waited in the conference room there. When we arrived, we were about in the middle of the room. While we were waiting, we were encouraged to move forward and fill in empty space, so we ended up being closer than that.

While they didn't open the doors as early as they did the previous year, I'm pretty sure they opened them prior to 11:00 which was the start time for our session.

As usual, I had studied the map over the past few days and had already made a plan of what to look for first. This plan usually doesn't last long, but it gives me a good idea of where to head first instead of wandering and wasting precious shopping time.

I headed for the Carryall Crossbody bags first. I bought one the year before and I really liked it, so I wanted another one that was a little less bright. I ended up getting one in Havana Rose which was the pattern I wanted to get. I looked through all the Havana Rose ones in the stack for good pattern placement. I always forget to do that in the chaos of the sale, but I wanted one that had a good butterfly on it.

Next, I head for the backpacks. This was finally the year I was going to get a backpack! I knew I wanted a Lighten Up one because I like the durability of the fabric. I ended up grabbing two backpacks to mull over later.

I honestly can't remember where I headed next and my pictures don't help. It was probably flip flops and pajama pants. Or hair accessories. Or all three!

Last Chance table
I do know that I managed to look at everything I wanted to look at first and then I did a lot of wandering around, looking for other stuff and taking pictures. I also perused the Last Chance tables. They were often crowded, but I found it easy to browse. I ended up grabbing a Swimsuit Wristlet because it's a great size to hold my all stickers in my teacher bag.

At some point, I picked up another Grand Tote 2.0. Once again, they were a great deal and they had tons. I used the one I bought in 2017 a lot in the past year and I'll probably buy a third one again this year because I love those bags so much. Also, this bag was super handy to put all my shopping in during the sale. It's a lot easier to carry than the pink plastic bag Vera gives you.

Eventually, we all met up again and sorted our stuff. I decided which backpack I wanted and went through my bag to figure out what I was for sure getting and what I was discarding. I pretty much just grab and go during the sale and sort it out when I'm happy with my selections.

We made it to the checkout just before our session ended and this year, we pretty much breezed through the line. It's really hit or miss with the checkout from year to year! We did have to wait once we were assigned a register lane because a woman in front of us decided to wait until it was her turn to put her stuff on the table to sort through it. Don't do that! Sort your stuff before you get to the checkout!

Things I didn't like this year
  • The sorting areas. I really hope this year they've finally figured out something better. There have been hints that perhaps something different is happening this year. But the amount of sorting areas gets smaller every year, I swear. And while I understand that you can't sit in these areas, now you can't even put a knee on the ground without somebody yelling at you. Please make this better, Vera!
  • Once again, no markdowns? I don't remember there being any advertised during our session. I'm not sure they're even doing them anymore. I really liked the year they did some Bonus Buys during the sessions and had special deals on certain items.
  • All the outlet patterns. Pattern selection was good, but there was a ton of stuff in the outlet only patterns. I know some people may not live near an outlet, so maybe this was a way for them to get them, but when the outlets frequently have 50% + 30% sales, it's not always a good deal to buy that stuff at the sale. I'm lucky enough to live close enough to an outlet to go a couple times a year, so I avoid outlet patterns at the sale.
  • Confusion on discount days. Oh man, this one. Excuse my rant. 
Vera Bradley usually offers discounts during the sale to teachers, healthcare workers, and first responders/military. They don't tell you when these will be offered until right before the sale which is a problem in itself. But in 2017, they said Friday was teacher day, but they honored it on Thursday too. When they announced the 2018 days, Friday was teacher day again. I'd already bought my tickets (because again, they don't announce them until after tickets go on sale), but I brought my teacher ID with me because they honored it the year before.

So, we're waiting to start our session and the announcer says they're doing teacher discounts that day. Great! I've got my ID. A minute later, she says, oh no, not teachers. That's Friday. And then she says, "Guess you'll just have to come back tomorrow!" My head exploded. Teachers cannot just "come back tomorrow." Taking a day off requires approval and there's so much work to get plans ready. If a teacher did all that work to come to the sale on Thursday, they're not going to do it all again just for a discount on Friday. I didn't care about not getting the discount because I had a coupon and you can't combine them anyway, but I took umbrage with the casual, "Just come back tomorrow."

Just figure out what the discount days are going to be and announce them when you put the tickets on sale.

Sorry, end of rant.

Things I liked this year
  • As I said, I thought the pattern selection was good. There was a lot of variety between signature patterns, outlet patterns, and even QVC and Dillard's exclusive patterns.
  • There was even a prototype pattern available that didn't get made. It wasn't my cup of tea, but some people seemed to like it. And it was a chance to get something unique. 
  • I thought the Last Chance tables were better organized this year. They were more spread out and easier to shop.
  • I really love entering through the conference center. Not only do they open the door early, but we also get into the sale so quickly. Before the conference center, it wasn't unusual to wait 20 minutes after the session started to get into the sale. 
This is the prototype pattern that was available in a limited number of items. It's called Sun Prairie. 

Here's what I got...

Grand Tote 2.0 in Meadow Garden (This is a QVC exclusive pattern)
Grande Laptop Backpack in Havana Dots
Carryall Crossbody in Havana Rose
Swimsuit Wristlet in Cuban Stamps
Mini Notebook in Scotties
Hair Accessories Kit in Playful Penguin Gray
Flannel Pants
Cozy Mittens
Iconic In the Loop Keychain in Houndstooth Tweed

I don't remember what I put back other than a backpack in another pattern. I think it was Havana Rose. 

How did my wishlist go?
I was able to get the major items on my wish list in patterns I really liked, so I think my wishlist went well. I had been hoping to score items in Havana Rose and Havana Dots, so I'm happy with those purchases. I also wanted Playful Penguins items, so I'm thrilled that I got 3 of them.

The Grand Tote 2.0 wasn't on my wish list, but it's such a great bag and such a great deal, that I couldn't leave it behind. It'll be on my wish list this year!

After the sale, we headed to our traditional lunch at Cheddar's and then went to Jefferson Pointe. We checked out the Vera Bradley store there.

We had an awesome day and can't wait for next year!

If you want to see more from my day at the sale, check the videos in my highlights on Instagram.

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.