10 Top Tips for making the most of Boden Town Hall Sales

Forewarned is forearmed!

You're likely to get more out of a Boden Town Hall Sale if you go prepared and knowing what to expect. Here are my top tips for finding the deals and enjoying the whole experience!

1. Arrive early if you can - around 30 minutes to an hour before opening time is probably optimal, as you are then likely to be among the first 50 or so people to enter. Once you're in, head straight to what you're most interested in (i.e. if you want dresses, don't dally at the shoes on the way...). The best things are snapped up fast, and it's much, much easier to find what you want right at the start, when everything is neatly folded and arranged, than later when the neat piles of stock have been reduced to random heaps.

Try to arrive before the queue stretches right around the building.Try to arrive before the queue stretches right around the building.

2. Have an idea what you're looking for. This might sound obvious, but if you go in thinking 'dresses' (or whatever...), you're much more likely to find something good than if you randomly rummage through everything your size. Bear in mind that you'll often find items - and colourways - that sold out online, so make a mental note of what you may have missed out on in past seasons. If you have kids, consider 'buying ahead' for them - i.e. sizes that they'll grow into. Many of the children's clothes are very well priced and the colourful T-shirts and pretty party dresses won't go out of style anytime soon.

3. Know your Boden size (and the sizes of any others you are shopping for). This crucial bit of information will mean you may be able to avoid having to brave the communal changing room (see no. 9), and are less likely to fall foul of the strict returns policy on sale items (see no. 10).

4. Don't expect rock bottom prices. Women's wear is generally 50-70% off, which is good, but you'll still be paying around 20 for a skirt, 25-40 for a dress and 50 for a coat. Hardly small change, and it adds up very quickly!

Everything is discounted, but that doesn't mean everything is super cheapEverything is discounted, but that doesn't mean everything is super cheap

5. Be willing to think - and buy - out of season. If you can bring yourself to buy a winter coat or down-filled jacket on a sunny summer's day it's likely to be a bargain. Similarly, the best deals on sundresses and swimwear are likely to be found in the autumn and winter. At a sale held in November only a couple of people were bothering to sort through the swimwear: less competition means a bigger chance to a great find!

6. What to take with you and what to leave at home
Take a strong bag or two for your purchases (Boden's carrier bags look pretty but break very quickly if you load them up!), plus a bottle of water, or maybe a flask of tea. Bargain hunting is thirsty work! To make it easier to do an initial rush through the sale grabbing anything vaguely of interest (to sort through later), take along one of the capacious blue Ikea holdalls - they're much easier to carry and sling over your shoulder than the barrel-shaped collapsible bags that the Boden staff hand you at the door.

Don't take anything bulky. Dress simply, avoiding heavy or cumbersome coats, accessories and bags (a backpack or cross body bag is practical as it leaves both hands and arms free for rummaging). Buggies and push chairs can be handy for transporting finds (draping them over the handles and/or stashing them in the net below), but you'll find it much harder to push through the crowds, and your baby or toddler is likely to get bored pretty fast. Do yourself - and them - a big favour and leave them at home if you can.

7. Do the rounds several times, especially after an hour or so when things have calmed down a little. Many people initially grab anything and everything that catches their eye (hence the Ikea bags!), then hole up in a corner to sort through their swag. Anything that doesn't make it to the checkout is cheerfully gathered up by the Boden staff, sorted and returned to the correct tables. In other words, something you missed out on right at the beginning has a fair chance of turning up again an hour or so later.

8. Check everything carefully, especially if it's on the 'faulty pile'. Faults can range from the motif not being quite perfectly centred, to a massive rip in the seat of a pair of trousers! If anything you're interested in has beading or 'embellishments', don't neglect to give it a good shake - there are plenty of loose beads around. All in all, especially given the strict returns policy (see no. 10), buyer beware!

9. Be prepared for the changing rooms - they are makeshift (generally a few partitions in a corner of the hall), communal and very busy. Consider wearing leggings and a slim fitting top, which will allow you to try things on in the main sale room, without compromising your modesty too much. You won't be the only one, and chances are everyone will be too engrossed in the hunt to notice anyway.

The changing rooms are makeshift... and communalThe changing rooms are makeshift... and communal

10. Finally, take note of the strict refund and exchange terms that apply at these sales. Boden's policy on this is clearly posted around the sales, and is generally no refunds at all, and exchanges only in person during the period of the sale. All the more reason to buy only what you really want!

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