Monday, January 3, 2011

White Sale


potterybarn.com

Once upon a time, a "white sale" was a marketing strategy designed to boost sales after the Christmas holidays.  Back in the day, this was the best time of the year to buy linens, bedclothes, and the like because of the deep discounting.  According to Wikipedia, Wanamaker's of Philadelphia was the first store to hold a white sale.
In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia department store fame decreed January to be the time for a white sale. Bed linens, which were available in white only, were sold at a discount. It is believed he might have done so to keep linen makers in business during a slow time of year.

I always wondered why it was referred to as a white sale.  My mother took me with her every year but she never bought anything white.  Everything she bought was brightly colored, pastel or flowered.  Right after the new year, we'd head to my mother's favorite department store at the time to load up on new towels, sheets, kitchen towels, bath rugs, bath mats, bed pads, pillows.   She liked solid colors for towels but not for sheets.  Sheets had to be flowered.  My dad never said a word.

Nowadays, every other weekend is a major sale.  If you don't believe that, get on a Macy's mailing list. 

Perhaps you remember the old white sales held once annually at your favorite department store?


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17 comments:

DJan said...

Yep I remember them, although I never went. I didn't know what a white sale meant! Now that you have informed me, I wonder if I had gone at least once. I like white stuff.

Brian Miller said...

actually i do remember those...mainly because my mom...

Brenda Susan said...

Tell you what. I really love the concept of buying all new linens every single year!! wow, luscious that would be!

Megan said...

I do remember them being called that! I used to go with my grandmother. I remember when she died, my dad and my uncle whittling down her linen closet to only what my uncle would need. It took a while!

Baino said...

I've never heard of a 'white sale' but just came back from shopping (something I rarely do) and the sales are on all over the place but they seem to drag out all the shit that was on sale a couple of months ago. I did go girly tho and bought some nail polish and a lippy (most unusual for me) and a rather nice top but I'm sure it's from last winter! I love white linen, just love it.

DawnTreader said...

Over here I don't think I ever heard of "white" sales especially, but traditionally almost every store had special offers from after Christmas and through the first week of January. We call it "between-days sale" because we call the days between the major holidays of this season "between-days". But of course nowadays the sales can start at any time - even before the holidays.

California Girl said...

DJan: I think white is more popular now than in the Fifties/Sixties. It's more luxurious.

Brian: Yup, good old Mom.

Brenda: I didn't mean to imply she bought new linens every yr. That isn't true. She went every yr and, of course, my memory is going to blend years together. To me, as a child, it seemed as though she bought alotta stuff.

Megan: I now feel old enough to be your mother. Ha! We had the same situation when Mom & Dad were gone. The linen closets were overflowing.

Baino: sounds like you're getting ready for Res #3 on your list.

DT: HI! Happy New Year. I think stores are non-stop sales nowadays and the concept of a real sale is really non-existent.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Can I plead the 5th regarding the "white sale"? ;)

Everyone seems to have sales all the time; you are dead on about the Macy's list!

#1Nana said...

I do remember white sales, but then I remember when Christmas sales didn't start until after Thanksgiving!

I know what you mean about the Macy's mailing list...they send me reward coupons at least once a week!

Linda Myers said...

I'd forgotten all about white sales. These days we watch the weekly ads instead of waiting for January.

Grandmother said...

I so remember white sales in Boston. My mother and aunt and me in Filene's Basement, every year, right after Christmas. I still love shopping after learning from those pros!

Pat Tillett said...

I sure do remember them! At one time a sale was a big thing. You are correct, it seems like there is a sale everyday now. Of course, now it's not really a sale, because they inflate the prices before hand.

art2cee2 said...

You blog title grabbed me! :-( As of Monday I am now an empty nester and I am not loving it..yet. Hopefully me and the dog and hubby will soon adapt. :-)

California Girl said...

Tanna: Yes ma'am!

#1: Me too. After Thanksgiving.

Linda: Most have forgotten them. Probably a good time for a re-birth.

Grandmother: Ahhh, Filene's Basement.

Pat: I tend to think they inflate the prices beforehand too. The only way to be sure is if you know the price of something you want and then there's a sale and it's really on sale. Is that redundant?

arr2cee2: Welcome! Glad you're here. You will recover and eventually embrace your empty nest. Take a little trip! Do something unusual you wouldn't have done when your child was home.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! C.G.,
Unfortunately, I don't remember them (The White sales)...However, I'am sure some Of my family members, remember the sales.
Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

lisleman said...

i remember ads for white sales

I didn't post it yet but I'm thinking about a pillows and women post.
I don't understand the connection. Your post is related since white sales included pillows (I assume)

California Girl said...

DeeDee: I honestly think it's a shame these few & far between major sales no longer exist. My mother knew her prices & she saved big on quality bedclothes, bath towels, etc.

lisleman: a post about women & pillows. you'll need to send me a link when you post it.