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With the mega-fast, mega-huge success of Gilt.com, it seems invites to join the newest flash sale website fill my mailbox daily. And nope, I can’t get enough of any of it.
Gilt Groupe is the original flash sale retailer. Founded in 2007, the site offers clothing, home goods and accessories in exclusive sales with limited supplies and an even-more-limited length of sale time. It’s one way to afford all that John Varvatos, Jonathan Adler and Alexander McQueen without paying full price—or leaving your office chair.
To date, Gilt Groupe has accumulated more than $48 million in sales, and since its inception, it has started up a few offshoot sites: Gilt Man, Jetsetter and Gilt City. And that list doesn’t include the hopefuls trying to emulate Gilt’s prosperity. Below is your quickie guide to other flash sale sites and general awesomeness for cheapos . . . or anyone who just enjoys a bargain.
By now, you’ve heard of Groupon. Sign up, and a couple of deals will be sent directly to your inbox every day. And while the restaurant deals are especially fantastic ($12 for $24 worth of food at Bodhi Tree! $10 for $20 worth of food at Avanti Cafe!), it’s really the range of stuff offered that’s appealing. There have been flying lessons, skydiving, dinner cruises, massages, facials, teeth-whitening sessions, even Botox injections—and it’s free to join. Tip: Select surrounding areas (Los Angeles County, San Gabriel Valley, San Diego County, etc.) for extra opportunities—and a chance to get out of Orange County.
Like Groupon—but not as popular—LivingSocial offers the Daily Deal, a deeply discounted offer from a local business. A few clicks to purchase, and you’ll receive a voucher in your e-mail to redeem your deal. LivingSocial seems to be a bit more froufrou than Groupon, with fancy-pants salons and spas seeming to dominate the sales instead of Groupon’s food-oriented ones. Current sales at time of press: house cleaning by a maid for $65; Lasik for $1,920; six laser hair-removal treatments for $99; one-hour chiropractor massage, $18.
Much, much less frequent with its deals, Market for Drama is an online beauty site that offers exclusive sales of often cult-favorite brands for a limited duration of days. It’s free to sign up, but all items sold are also final sale. Best sale so far? Special Savon de Marseille soaps and lotions for up to 70 percent off retail. Market for Drama also assures that all its products are procured directly from the brands themselves.
Another mostly fashion-driven site, Rue La La is aimed a bit more at the mainstream. While you’ll see full-on runway wear with four-figure pricing on Gilt, Rue La La is where to head for Michael Kors, Kate Spade and DKNY. But it does also operate by the same guidelines as Gilt: Sales start at a set time, and you’ll need to click fast and pray for a lightning-quick Internet connection to get what you want; stock is limited, and the deals are great. While there are both men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, you’ll also find things such as D.L. & Co.’s fancy candles, cruises to Costa Rica and gourmet foodstuffs.
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