I know what you are probably thinking, what is a family sale? Well for ease of understanding, it’s basically a sample sale. In Japan, sales of up to 90% off of last season clothes, cookware, anything really, are open to company employees and….their families. Hence it’s called a family sale.
So how do you get an invite?
Well unsurprisingly it’s all about who you know. For example my coworker’s husband works for a cookware brand and she took me on her friends and family ticket. Another coworker managed to get an invite to a designer brand’s sale and took me along after work. Despite it being aimed at friends and family, most tickets allow up to 3 people to enter at a time. The brands want people to go, because they’re trying to sell this stuff. They just don’t want any and everyone to come.
Once your foot is in the door, that’s when you can get a shot at being on the permanent invite list. This is how I ended up getting my invite to the Marc Jacobs family sale over the weekend. Just before you leave whichever hall the sale is held in, they should have a place where you can sign up for the mailing list in future. It’s that easy!
How does it all work?
The invite should tell you the when and where is all happens. There’s often a cloak room for you to put your bags in before you can enter the room. And then it’s kind of a free for all. None of the ones I’ve been to have been like a Walmart on Black Friday, granted, but it’s always been a little less polished than any other shopping experience I’ve had in Japan.
What’s laid out for you is what is there, so if your size or colour isn’t there you’re out of luck. Which was unfortunately true of these amazing boots I wanted! Despite all that, there are great deals to be had. Maybe some of it is stuff you don’t want but when you do find a gen, and it’s 60% off then it’s all worth it.
Is that the only way?
Family sales aren’t the only way to get a good deal. Japan used to have very few big sales (like the New Year blowout) but recently they’ve been increasing. And sample sales that work just like those in the west also exist if you know where to look for them. Stalk your favourite brands (onespo announced their last one on twitter for example) or follow sites like Tokyo Sample Sale. The bargains are out there as long as you know where to look!