Published: Sat, January 14, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

The Vera Bradley mega-sale | Travel | Dallas News

The Vera Bradley mega-sale | Travel | Dallas News

Call me pilgrim. I carry either the Maltese cross of the crusader or the seashell of St. James, but rather to jaunty Marina Paisley tote of reds and blues. I made the pilgrimage to the promised land of Fort Wayne, the spiritual center for Vera Bradley believers.

And it's not just any trip, any time. Vera Bradley Outlet Sale, the apex of Vera worship each April. Texas is one of the more than 60,000 shoppers from every state and a dozen countries converge on the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, questing for quilted cotton.

Vera Bradley accessories are an acquired addiction. Some women collect every item in their favorite patterns, while others go for the eclectic look, mixing patterns like flowers in an English country garden. Others simply cringe at the cuteness of the florals and geometrics - which leaves more for the Vera addicts. And we know who we are.

The blow-out sale is as old as the Hoosier company itself, dating to 1982, when Patricia R. Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard first starting cutting out fabric on a ping- Pong table. The sale that started in a quaint 10x10-foot tent with seconds has morphed into mountains of merchandise that cover nearly three football fields. Last year, it took 86 semis to deliver the goods.

The company charges admission for an assigned shopping window; With the end of the five-day event, the doors open to all comers.

Like an exploded kaleidoscope, color and pattern dazzle from endless tables of purses, backpacks and suitcases. Here's the cutest baby dress, there's the best dorm décor. It's almost too much, so every Vera devotee needs a pilgrimage plan.

Check in early and often

Follow the buzz on Facebook, Twitter and all social media - you may snag an exclusive offer. The company also tweets throughout the sale; Backpacks that were originally $ 109 might dip to $ 30.

As soon as you lock in your shopping day, check out the local hotels at at least two months ahead. List

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It can be overwhelming to face acres of patterns stretching to the horizon line. A nailed-down list can keep you focused. If you're the designated personal shopper for others, make sure they research the exact name of the pattern and item they want. A photo is even better.

Bring a fellow pilgrim

Bargainers often shop in groups, sporting team or tiaras - or both. Pals are great to talk to you as they wait in line, and once inside, to offer design advice. If they're really generous, they might help you carry your overstuffed pink plastic trash bag up to the cash register. Pack your cell phones and pick a meeting spot for the post-bargain rendezvous.

Some shoppers bring their husbands, both to help with the load and the sale limit: $ 3,500 per buyer for the duration of the sale. Vera takes Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, checks and cash. You will need registration to shop and a valid photo ID to check out.

Ask for guidance

When I hit the wall of pattern and shape, I finally turn to an aproned helper , Maureen, and whimper "I'm looking for totes." That's like wandering into a landscape megastore and saying "I want to tree."

Maureen gently takes me in hand, watching for the buckled knees and Rapid pulse of a shopper trapped inside the kaleidoscope. Just by asking "With or without a zipper?" She breaks through my trance and reboots my search.

Just look for the Vera-ready workers and share your list with them. Discover old and new Between each ticketed time slot, stockers refresh the merchandise and bring out hot items. "It's like they're coming to a fresh new sale," said Vera Bradley's Melissa Schenkel.

For new merchandise, catch the free, hourly Vera shuttle from the coliseum to the Vera shop at Jefferson Pointe Shopping Center . The bus rolls with games and daily deals on new Vera.

Drivers can copy the locals and park at the shopping center to save $ 5 on coliseum parking. Shoppers who fly in to get a special treat: Airport volunteers hand new arrivals locally baked cookies.

Spread the wealth

Peg Perego, another Fort Wayne company that crafts high-end children's toys and Gear, stages its outlet matches to Vera's. DeBrand Fine Chocolates, a delicious energy boost for hard-shopping folk, offers tours.

Feel good about shopping

Make a $ 2 donation to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer by buying a Quilt or a travel set. The company has raised more than $ 23 million to endow the chair at the Simon Medical Center in Indianapolis and found research at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Pack it in

The US Postal Service is onsite, ready to ship your treasures home. Betsa Marsh is a freelance writer in Ohio.

When you go

The Vera Bradley Outlet Sale is April 13-17, 2016, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave. on the north side of Fort Wayne, Ind. Registration opens Feb. 1

The sale is Fort Wayne's largest event of the year, generating $ 5 million to $ 6 million in economic impact.

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