Pop Culture

I Survived: The Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale

I usually write about television matters, but this week, I have to touch upon a scary situation I found myself in: the first day of the semi-annual sale at Victoria’s Secret.

I had to take my sister to the airport Tuesday morning, and didn’t feel like immediately going home and finishing a freelance assignment after I had dropped her off. My favorite outdoor mall is on the way home, so I decided to stop by and hit up Bath & Body Works for some cheap anti-bacterial hand sanitizer (exciting!), Ulta for some hair conditioner, Macy’s for a Betsey Johnson necklace I was lusting after, and Coffee Bean because I had been up for hours and needed an iced tea latte, stat.

I made all my stops, and then saw that Victoria’s Secret was having its huge sale. I like their lotions and body washes, and although I have roughly eight million products already waiting in my bathroom, I still had to take a look. You can never have too many body butters!

First, I had to wade through the dozens of customers rooting through big bins of underwear and bras. There were a few women carefully looking, but many were literally tossing items up in the air and jostling each other for a closer look at neon green thongs. I got scared, and moved onto the beauty room.

Things were even crazier there. The 50 percent off tables, which featured some discontinued Secret Garden fragrances and other various sundries, were the calmer areas. There were a few people perusing the goods, but no one was out of control. The 75 percent off tables? Those were dangerous.

The round tables were stacked with bins holding everything from liquid liner to baked eyeshadow to tiny vials of perfume. Dozens of people were hovering, and I stood back, waiting for an opening. I finally seized an opportunity and started tentatively looking through a bin, when a woman swooped in, pushed me out of the way, and started digging around the bin. She was picking up handfuls of products, and then tossing them aside to the other side of the bin. I got hit in the arm and hands, and instantly pulled away. She didn’t apologize; in fact, I think she was more annoyed that I was taking my time. She pushed me some more, hitting me with her ginormous purse. It felt unreal, and I almost asked her, “You know you’re acting like this over some bronzer, right?” But because I didn’t want to fight this person or lose a limb, I grabbed two lip glosses, hoped they were colors I liked, and fled to the checkout line.

Standing in line was a welcome relief, because I knew I wouldn’t get hit in the face by a fugly discontinued eye shadow. There were two banks of registers, and I took my chances with the line in the Pink room. I wasn’t expecting to see what I witnessed, which was what I believe was the largest purchase of Victoria’s Secret bath products by a regular person.

There were two men standing by a dolly, which was piled high with large cardboard boxes. I noticed one simply said “LOTIONS,” and I figured that the guys were going to replenish the bins. I wished them a silent Godspeed, hoping they would survive their entrance into the fray. But no, they weren’t heading in there. They were waiting for this woman checking out to direct them to her car, which was idling outside the entrance. The poor cashier was standing in front of the scanner, swooping a lotion’s barcode in front of it, over and over. I waited in line for about 15 minutes, and the entire time she was being rung up. The guys went back and forth, back and forth, loading more and more boxes into her SUV (I seriously don’t know how it fit).  The cashier had to stop several times because the receipt was getting to be too long – each time she stopped, the receipt was, I would guess, 10 feet long. I think the woman was a reseller, and purchased 50 or more cases of bath items, most likely to sell them at double what she paid. I was in awe.

As I walked out with my tiny bag, filled with just three VS Attractions body washes (which were regularly $18 each, but I paid just $5) and two Beauty Rush lip glosses (regularly $7 each), I had to ask myself: was it worth it? I had wasted about 30 minutes of my life and almost lost a limb in the process… did the fact that I got lip glosses for $1.75 make it all OK? I do love getting bargains, but that was one of the ugliest sales I’ve ever been to, and I can’t see myself going through it again just to save $5.25. Now, $5.50? Maybe.

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

16 replies on “I Survived: The Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale”

Hmm, most retail stores wouldn’t allow a purchase of that size, for the very fact that resalers would take advantage. Sounds to me like that store’s management was desperate to unload their stock/boost their sale day numbers, and I can’t help but think they’ll be getting a visit from corporate loss prevention soon, as LP tends to look suspiciously at purchases of that sort.

/entirely too long in retail

The more I think about this, and now that I’ve heard from two people on the matter with retail experience who say this doesn’t sound right, I kind of want to call the store up and ask what their policy is on large volume transactions like this. I can’t imagine that what went down was right. My inner Nancy Drew is coming out, and I want to get more info!

If you want to find out, don’t call the store. Call corporate. I wouldn’t normally advocate going over the store’s head on most things, but those kinds of sales have been clearly against the rules everywhere I’ve ever worked, and it sucks for the other stores because that one store will have massively skewed sales figures.

I used to work at VS (semi-annual is even more horrifying from the employee’s perspective), and my store would have never allowed a bulk purchase like that. We were always told to refer people buying that much to customer service because Limited Brands didn’t want resellers making profit like that.

I felt really bad for the employees, because I could tell they were tired (the girl that rang me up had been there since 4:30 a.m., and I was there around noon!). I’ve got to hand it to them, because everyone I saw working was friendly and smiling, despite the chaos surrounding them.

I do! I do! I’ve been shopping at VS for 10 years thinking there wasn’t anything better bra wise until a friend suggested that I try Soma (, but I haven’t shopped their online store yet), a new store that opened up at our mall. I’ve bought a couple of bras from them and I’ve told a few of my friends to go shop there after I found out how amazing they were and we have no complaints. Depending on what you are shopping for, I think they have better quality than VS but same or even cheaper prices, especially for large chested ladies. Although, I still love VS Pink undies. . . when they are on sale.

Yikes! I hope you liked the colours at least.

The Black Friday sales are terrifying, but I’m not strong enough to withstand the promise of such amazing deals… the human brain is an odd wee beastie sometimes, how we assign a larger “value” to something given the mere suggestion of an original price versus what we actually paid for it.

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