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Bargains fast and frantic at Old Town Boutique District Warehouse Sale

Wednesday - 2/5/2014, 2:49pm  ET

This warehouse sale is not for the weak.

The Old Town Boutique District once again rallied its member stores and friends from the District for the annual Old Town Boutique District Warehouse Sale, held Feb. 1 at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

The sale is part social event, part major bargain binge for the hundreds who line up starting at 7 a.m. Some waited up to two hours for a good spot inside when the doors open at 9 a.m.

For the local independent boutiques, it's a great chance to clear out merchandise and get ready for the spring lines, says Elizabeth Todd, owner of The Shoe Hive in Old Town. The smaller shops don't have the benefit of outlet stores to offload outdated merchandise, so this is a great way to make room while also giving their patrons a chance at some great deals. Nearly two dozen stores participated, and there were deals on everything from clothing to jewelry to outerwear and home goods.

Some of the hottest items going this year were the Hunter Boots, which normally retail for $150 and up. At the sale, they were $50. There were plenty of shoppers loaded down with armfuls of boot boxes. (Editor's note: Man, should have jumped on that one.)

The sale went fast and furious. The Shoe Hive, fully stocked at 9 a.m., looked like a swarm of locusts had been through by about 10 a.m.

But because of the limited supply, you have to grab what you can when you can get it, which sometimes results in confrontation. Case in point: One customer came up to a sales associate, asking where the mate to one particular pair of shoes was. Another customer quickly — and with an edge — cut off the conversation, saying to the salesperson that the first customer knew right where it is, thank you: I have it, and she's angry because I refuse to give it up.

(Kudos to the diplomatic salesperson, who seemed to be sorting it out with United Nations-level skills.)

As I said, not for the weak. But those who moved fast found some great bargains, and retailers went back to their shops plenty lighter.

© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.