The annual Vera Bradley Outlet Sale is set for April 13-17, drawing more than 60,000 shoppers from every state and a dozen countries. Questing for quilted cotton, they converge on the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Pre-register to save your spot
Free pre-registration is open at VeraBradley.com. If you want to shop during the early ticketed days, buy your ticket through Ticketmaster. It’s $5 to corner a 2½-hour time frame, vying with up to 3,000 others. But unregistered shoppers can pop in the final two days of the sale, sign up and take their chances.
The blow-out sale is as old as the Hoosier company itself, back to 1982 when Patricia R. Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard first starting cutting out fabric on a ping-pong table. Last year, it took 86 semis to deliver the goods.
Like an exploded kaleidoscope, color and pattern dazzle from endless tables of purses, backpacks and suitcases. It’s almost too much, so every Vera devotee needs a strategy.
Check in early and often
Follow the buzz on social media to snag exclusive offers. The company tweets throughout the sale—backpacks might dip from $90 to $30.
Make a list
A nailed-down list can keep you focused. If you’re the designated personal shopper for others, make sure they research the exact name of the pattern and item they want—a photo is even better.
Bring a fellow Vera fanatic
Some shoppers bring partners, both to help with the load and the sale limit: $3,000 per buyer for the entire sale. Everyone needs registration and a valid photo ID to check out.
Ask for guidance
Just look for the Vera-aproned workers and share your list with them. They know where everything is in that vast coliseum—including the toilets and snack bar.
Discover old and new
For most of its life, the outlet sale was all about overstock and retired patterns, 40 to 60 percent off. For the first time in 2015, Vera manufactured current patterns just for the sale.
For new merchandise, catch the free, hourly Vera shuttle from the coliseum to the Vera shop at Jefferson Pointe Shopping Center. The bus rollicks with games and daily deals on new Vera.
Drivers can copy the locals and park at Jefferson Pointe to save $5 on coliseum parking. Shoppers who fly in get a special treat: Airport volunteers hand new arrivals locally baked cookies.
Consider a misprint
During my sale, “We have a lot of Olivias,” one stocker said. Another countered “We have a whole box of Cheryls.” If you’re shopping for a certain name, you might luck out.
Feel good about shopping
It’s easy to make a $2 donation to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer by buying a chance on a handmade quilt or a travel set. The company has raised more than $23 million to endow a chair at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis and fund research at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Pack it in
The U.S. Postal Service is onsite, ready to ship your treasures home. Opening the package will be like reliving the epiphany that is the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale.
WHEN YOU GO
Vera Bradley Outlet Sale is set for April 13-17.
Fort Wayne, Ind.