What to Expect When You’re Expecting (a lululemon Warehouse Sale)

I am a veteran of the lululemon warehouse sales – meaning I have the firsthand shopper’s experience of what goes on inside and a general idea of what to expect. And, because people know I’ve gone previously, my inbox and Facebook page has exploded with questions. I just can’t field all of them without somehow losing it.

Seriously. I won’t make it until Friday. At least not without drinking.

So here’s what I know:

The sale runs Friday-Sunday from 8am-8pm (the last one allowed in is at 7pm, depending on stock supplies) at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Parking is available – the closest options being the Plaza Parking Ramp, the 3rd Avenue Ramp or Orchestra Hall, but be prepared to spend at least $12 for the whole day. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find parking right away – along with the tremendous turnout expected this year, the Convention Center is also hosting several events including one with Mary Kay.

Prepare to wait in lines. There is never a time where you’re not waiting in line. The wait times vary, but expect a 4-6 hour to get in. Keep in mind, a lot of people are going to attend. They will come from out of state (even from out of the country) with thoughts of their very own phantom unicorns dancing before their eyes. lululemon only allows a certain number of people inside the sale at any one time, and they don’t let people in without getting people out. It’s doubtful that you’ll have to wait outside in the cold – the Convention Center is a large building with skyway access.

1932356_10153915045000702_1095736350_nWear comfortable clothing and shoes as you’re likely to be on your feet for a while. This isn’t a “I’ll just run down over my lunch break from Target in four-inch heels.” – this is our Superbowl, and you need to dress for it!

Don’t bring your children. I know, I know, you bring them everywhere or they are so well behaved. Just don’t. I’m doing the whole world a favor by leaving mine at home and I implore you do the same. If you do decide to bring them, strollers are allowed but you will get the stink eye from everyone in line when you’re normally well behaved child acts a fool.

You’re not allowed to bring anything inside the sale except a bag the side of a wristlet. Sorry, gals. No shoppers totes, no diaper bags, no large purses. You can check things at the front with members of the staff, but there is a fee attached. Just leave your coats and bags in the trunk of your car. You don’t need anything except your cougar-like hunting and racing ability. And money to spend.

The sale only accepts credit and debit cards. This makes check-out fast and easy – no change to make, no cash errors, no burglars or thievery. Chip out your credit cards from the icebox and bring your photo ID. Cash and gift cards will not be accepted.

You are limited to 25 items per purchase – which means you can enter, purchase 25 things, exit and wait in line to reenter and do it all over again.  There wasn’t a limit at the Chicago Warehouse Sale in 2012, but with the incredible resale prices of lululemon gear on resell sites, I think this is a way for lululemon to cut down on purchase-for-profiteers, speed the waiting lines at both the entrance and check-out lines and ensure that every lulu lover gets a chance to score some dope deals. (But, after this scandal, I tend to think it’s to enforce the former rather than the latter.)

Don’t be alarmed if you can’t make the first day. lululemon will be constantly restocking the racks. Sales associates will be constantly wheeling out racks of clothing from behind the curtains, which means you could possibly score the items you’re looking for the second or third day that the first-day adventurers didn’t get. However, the highly sought after items are usually in limited quantities and are gone by noon the first day.

Clothing is arranged by size and then by type (pants vs tops), and by gender. But remember, if you can’t find the item you’re looking for, you might want to check one rack to the left and right. lululemon shoppers are fickle and flighty inside the sale and may change their mind about grabbing something and they’ll put it back on the rack wherever they are – not necessarily where it belongs. Sizes 2-4 and 10-12 quantities are smaller with fewer options then that of the 6-8 prime target market.

Will there be Sheer Madness (the term I coined for the see-through pants)? Honestly, I’m not sure. I would hope that those pants have been long-ago burned for the atrocity that they were, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some pants were sheer – the stock is so overwhelming I would guess a few bad eggs will slip in. Because ALL SALES ARE FINAL, I suggest you test them to find out before you purchase. You can do this one of two ways: 1) Go into the changing room (which I don’t recommend – see below) and do the bend test. Have your friend or stranger confirm no sheer, or 2) put your hand inside the pants backside to palm and stretch tightly over your hand.

There will be a men’s section, but quantity is slim and usually picket over early. Don’t expect to come home with a huge shopping bag for your man (or yourself if you yourself are male) – it’s just the way it works.

Accessories for sale are usually water bottles, hair ties, socks and undies, headbands, scarves, cold weather gear and limited quantities of mats, towels and bags (although they are gone within the first five hours of the sale).

You *might not* get a shopping bag, cart or basket. In my experience with other sales, we had to hold all our items in our hands as they didn’t provide anything to us shoppers. But, this year might be different, as lululemon was quoted in saying they would be providing shoppers with totes – but, I’m not holding my breath. Plan for the absolute worst and be surprised by the best!

There will be changing rooms, but avoid them at all costs. As a lulu shopper, you should know what you’re searching for and in what size. Before you strip to your skivvies, be aware that the changing rooms will be communal – available to men and women alike. Think of the changing room as Dante’s nine circles of Hell and skip them completely – you don’t need the chaos and anxiety it will cause you. However, keep in mind as you shop, that near the changing room is a gold mine of discarded items. What doesn’t work for some people, might be just the think you’re looking for – all discarded clothing from the changing room sits in a few large laundry bins waiting to get rehung and returned to the racks.

Pricing is always slightly different from year to year but in my experience, full-length pants and jackets are $59, crops are $49, athletic bags are $49-$39, running shorts and skirts are $29 as are most tops, bras are $19 and accessories range in price from $3-$19. Prices do go down as the sale goes on – the deepest discounts are on Sunday afternoon when the excitement over the sale dies down and there is plenty of stock leftover.

Additional discounts are offered inside the sale over the loudspeaker. In order to get people moving in and out, occasionally they will offer additional percentages off your entire purchase if you get into the check-out line within five minutes – usually 10% off, in my experience. This keeps the line moving otherwise shoppers would stay for a lengthy period of time, and with the limited number of shoppers in at a time, the line would stall and make everyone crabby and unhappy.

There are no tables for you to spread out your purchases before entering the check-out line to decide what you’re going to keep and what you’re going to toss aside. The tables that are there are small and you are discouraged from using them as they are for the associates working to rehang the stock discarded in the dressing room. You cannot use the floor, either, for obvious reasons.

There. Are. Hangers. Everywhere.

Don’t ask stupid questions. The sales associates don’t know if there is more in back or if the garment comes in another color. They don’t know and they’re job is to restock. Sizes and prices are clearly marked and if you don’t seem something out on the floor, you can either come back another day/time or you just miss out on it completely.

Tags are removed at check-out to prevent store returns and white removable tags located inside the garment has a black line through them. If you’re planning to resell them as NWT, think again.

Check-out is a breeze. The cashiers are friendly and excited to share in the rush of shopping with you. They fold your goodies in rapid speed into a trademark lulu bag, hand you a receipt and you head out with your excellent scores.

Hemming is complimentary at any lululemon store for all your warehouse purchases but they DO NOT offer hemming AT the sale. This will require an additional trip on your part, but it’s free so you shouldn’t complain too loudly.

To keep you entertained during the line, lululemon invited local yogi to host demonstrations, classes and some sort of DJ or music will be playing. Keep your spirits up! You’ll get inside soon!

If you follow @lululemonWHUS on Twitter, they’ll keep you updated on wait times!

As always, be kind to everyone you meet – including those in line, in the sale and those working it. Try and make it a pleasant experience for everyone. I don’t recommend fighting over a pair of pants with another shopper. Pants are just not worth it.

If you’re familiar with some of the lululemon Facebook groups, you might want to offer to angel some items for those who can’t make it. I’m on the lookout for some people, but with a 25-item limit, I can’t help everyone (and I’m not about to wait in line a few times over, no matter how nice I am!). Do this at your own risk – I’ve done it a few times for those out of the country, and I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences. We truly are a community… a wildly obssessed community, but a community nonetheless. This is the Facebook Group I participate in the most.

If you can’t make the sale, at all, I’m sure eBay will be flooded with jacked-up prices starting at 9am on Friday.

If you have any additional questions for me, please post them in the comments below so everyone can read them and I will respond accordingly.

Happy shopping!

And, might suggest reading all 30 days of this: CorePower Challenge for a rousing good time.

lulu

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About Grace

Grace is the creator of www.winemommies.com and www.keeporborrow.com. She has two amazing daughters, Mia and Eva (who are 13 months apart in age), who keep her busy. When she's not stopping them from leaping off tall pieces of furniture, she's the wife to Rob - the best husband and man on the planet.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for all the detailed information about the sale! I have looked online for more details, but came across none as informative as yours. I’m tempted to make the six hour trek from Iowa, where we have no store anywhere close, but not only would it be quite a drive, but the cost of a hotel as well. I will probably cross my fingers that it will be back to Chicago sometime soon now that I know about this sale! Have a wonderful time!

  2. Very informative. Would you share what time you plan on getting in line? I ask because the picture of the text you included says Madeline is heading out at 3am but what time does that mean she’ll get there?

    Thanks! M

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