Meagan Weas waited at least two hours in line on the first day of The Row’s sample sale. For her, it was worth it. “I love the quality,” she said. “I like how it doesn’t have labels all over it.” Inside, she said the vibe was calm — mostly: “There are some of your classic, crazy, ‘will take things out of your hands’ people.”
Inside, Weas did have to defend a bag from another eager patron. “There were ten of us waiting for more bags to come out like hungry animals,” she said. Weas had asked a “nice saleswoman” if more bags could be brought out for her, and as soon as they were, another woman lunged at them. “I held my own,” Weas said.
She was part of a crowd (some people waited as long as five hours to get in) that had gathered outside the door to the Metropolitan Pavilion, an event space known as the pseudo-home of sample sales. Presiding over the scene was an intimidating man in a dark suit, sunglasses, and an earpiece-wire dangling down the back of his neck — a Gandalf of glamor letting a lucky handful of people trickle in at a time. The line that stemmed from behind him was at least five-people wide, taking up the entirety of the already gracious sidewalk.
The Row’s customers exhibited sleek and low ponytails, long and neutral trench coats, polished vintage loafers, expensive-looking mules, delicate ballet flats, rich-looking knits, and a plethora of dissociative looks exuding the attitude of “If you know, you know.” It’s not surprising, since The Row (brainchild of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) has come to define a kind of luxury that says, “I have a summer home in the Hamptons but don’t flaunt it.” It’s understated, sans logos, and unmatched in quality. All this, the key to presenting wealth — like this cashmere coat that retails for $11,500 — was 80 percent off.
“It was chaos,” Nikki, a 27-year-old sample-sale-goer, who nabbed four pairs of shoes, told me of the first few hours she’d spent waiting in line. “It was crazy mob vibes. There was a lot of confusion.”
Audrey Peters, an influencer and content creator, gave her TikTok followers a haul of her discounted spoils: A leather jacket (originally $3,490; bought for $680), black tube top (originally $590; purchased for $118), black trousers (originally $790; purchased for $158), cream pants (originally $590; purchased for $118), and a matching cream jacket (originally $990; purchased for $198). What would have been a $6,450 shopping trip full-price came out to $1,272 at the sample sale. (Unrelated question: Would anyone who attended The Row sample sale or regularly shops at The Row like to pay my rent this month?)
“The line to check out was an hour. Chaos,” Peters told me. “But such camaraderie in the dressing room — like, everyone helping decide what looks good, even though no one knows each other.”
From the outside looking in, the same vibe seemed to emanate from people who trudged forth in the very slow-moving queue. Chic women chatted with one another and mingled. “We made really great line friends,” Nikki said.
Outside, I approached a sharply dressed man named Ronald, 81. I asked if he’d been a fan of The Row for a while, to which he replied, “A row?” Yes, I said, he was in line for The Row sample sale. “I think I might be in the wrong line,” he replied and walked away.
Minutes later, I saw a pair of women follow Ronald’s lead, deciding they weren’t cut out for the waiting game that being a part of Club Row now apparently required.
A 27- and 29-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous but both work for a television-production company, exited the line just as they made it to the corner of 19th Street. They’d waited 40 minutes and, on seeing the few hundred people still in front of them, decided enough was enough. “It’s going to close, and you don’t know what’s inside,” one said. The two told me they felt TikTok was to blame for the congestion, saying that before the app, “no one knew about” sample sales happening in the city: “It is what it is, though. For the people — that’s what the point of sample sales is.”
As the sun began to drop out of sight and behind the buildings, I decided I’d probably had enough of pacing back and forth while receiving side glances from better-dressed counterparts. On my way out, a woman in Golden Goose sneakers passed by, speaking into her phone and visibly vexed. “I’ve never seen anything like it. People are not moving,” she said. “I’ve been to Hermès sample sales, and this is worse.”