If you have been to a sample sale you know it isn't pretty nor is it often a 'nice' experience - it is shopping at it's most feral- knocking people over for that pair of shoes in your size marked down 70%, digging through trays of trendy jewelry priced at a fraction of retail...plus the long line to wait to get in -more often than not when I saw the line to get into a sample sale, I didn't even bother. Maybe that says something about how much I'm willing to suffer for fashion.
Some smart people have figured out a way to get around all of that by starting online sample sale sites, but when I first heard about the sites I did find myself scratching my head and wondering what this was about. So I thought about it.
I realized that beyond saving us from waiting in line and all of that, it helps the clothing lines because it means the extra stuff doesn't end up on Bluefly and at Nordstrom Rack, which basically means death to the line - a glut of sale merchandise diminishes the cache of line and can lead to ruin. Some lines have managed to come back from that front, like DKNY a few years ago for example, when you couldn't go to a sale site or Nordstrom Rack type store without tripping over piles of their ugly crap (the line was restarted and now produces nice pieces again)
These new sample sale sites allow the brands to sell leftover merchandise and even increase their cache because for some of them, you have to be "invited" or some such nonsense to shop there. They include Ideeli, Haute Look, The Gilt Group.I think Haute Look is the only one a person can just sign up for.
Besides avoiding the crappy warehouses and little(or big)-miss-greedy grabbing the clothes right out of your hands, these sites take credit cards and for clothing at least, they take returns. Unheard of for real sample sales and a real plus in my book. But of course you aren't able to try the clothes on to see if they fit when you order them online, so I guess it's a wash.