Digging for Deals at Sympa Stock Shops in Paris

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Digging for Deals at Sympa Stock Shops in Paris
Shopping in Paris is a divine experience when you shop chic couture boutiques in the Golden Triangle on the Right Bank or Saint-Germain-des-Prés designer shops on the Left Bank. You’ve dressed for the occasion, probably worn heels, even. No worries: the shop air is perfumed, carpeting cushions your steps, the sales clerks doting and discreet professionals, and of course your bags can be delivered to your hotel or apartment, avec plaisir, madame. How clever of Ladurée to place their macaron salons so near your shopping excursions on Avenue George V and rue Bonaparte. At least you can regain your strength with a macaron and thé before your waiting driver helps you into your carriage. To be clear, none of that will happen when you shop at Les Magasins Sympa Grandes Marques, better known to expert deal-hunters like Suzy “Born to Shop“ Gershman as SYMPA. You’ll prepare for this adventure in different ways; let’s start by managing your expectations. What’s SYMPA? Olivier Magny, the expert on all matters when it comes to enlightening us about Stuff Parisians Like, says that when a French person says something is “sympa,” they mean it’s nice, but far from formidable! or super! Bargain hunters who shop at SYMPA closeout shops beg to differ: the deals at SYMPA can be incroyable! Simply put, SYMPA shops sell new clothing for centimes on the euro. Sure, we’re talking last season’s styles, but can you ever have too many Petit Bateau adult women’s tops like those you can sometimes find at SYMPA for fewer than 10 euros? (The same goes for Petit Bateau onesies for chic babies sold for under 2 euros.) Sometimes is a keyword here: there is no guarantee that on the days you go you’ll find clothing or accessories by MEXX, Benetton, Esprit, Diesel, Kookai, Naf-Naf, Sinequanone, Carling, Zara, Gianfranco Ferre, Etam, H&M, Jennyfer, Printemps, Mango, and other familiar European brands. It’s entirely possible a discerning shopper will walk away sans sac—quelle horreur! And that’s the frame of mind you must hold if you’re a shopaholic or you could find yourself settling in desperation for something less than perfect. Preparing for a SYMPA trip Fortify (espresso, triple shot) before going, sharpen your elbows, do not wear heels, do not dress up—in fact, dress as casual as your traveling wardrobe allows. Leave the designer purse behind; if you packed your collapsible shopping trolley, tote it or at least carry some Monoprix shopping bags with handles you can use to carry your purchases on your return trip. Wear nothing flashy that implies you’re a “tourist,” including jewelry that’s better than Timex. It’s best to dress in layers you can shed to try on tops, jackets and maybe pants in the aisles sort of like the old days at the original Filene’s and Loehmann’s stores. If there’s a dressing room, it’s hidden. Do not go on a Saturday unless unavoidable; if you must, go early and expect to join a mob. The Paris local who guided me here said deliveries are made on Wednesdays and Saturdays. She recommended arriving on a Wednesday morning before the stores open at 10am. That’s advice our interns followed when updating this story and they were warned to expect crowds. Do not be turned off to see a queue—just grab a spot near the door and wait. Bring cash and/or VISA or MasterCard (minimum purchase about 10€ to use plastic). Finding the SYMPA stores There are multiple SYMPA shops at the base of Montmartre on rue Steinkerque near Métro: Anvers. Brace yourself: the street and area are urban gritty, but better than the photo at the Google map suggests. Do not let that discourage you, you won’t be in danger but, yes, there are pickpockets lurking and watching for the flashy tourists. City dwellers with street smarts engaged will have no problems. Look for the big red SYMPA signs above the shop doors. Arrive early enough and you might see the delivery truck dump boxes of inventory. College interns sent to snap some of the photos seen here had a good time watching the shoppers attack those boxes, but they took their photos after the crowds vanished. The SYMPA experience The shop opens and you’ll find the cheapest stuff in the bins in the front of the store. We’re talking overflowing heaps of clothing. The signs show prices like 1.99€ for anything from those bins and that’s where the locals stack up. Skip that if the mob is too dense. Tables just inside the door hold boxes filled with some of the same items plus the nicer things still in their clear cellophane wrappers. Tags are attached, sometimes with full-retail prices marked. The store has round racks and wall racks with the “expensive” things—by “expensive,” we mean bargain-priced coats priced at 40€ or so. It’s a tight squeeze; wear your purse cross-shoulder, keep it shut tight in front of you at all times and be mindful of anyone who gets too close, they may be checking your pockets. The stock Most of the stock is women’s apparel, but there are some garments for infants, children and men. Everything is new stock reportedly pulled from retail…
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More in 18th arrondissement, discount, discount shopping, Montmartre, outlet, Paris shopping, pop up shop, Shopping, stock shop, Sympa

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