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American Apparel Factory Flea Market Back in Full Force

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After skipping a year, the American Apparel factory sale is back and likely bigger than ever -- it is going for a full six days, which means that it's pretty huge. This time around, the sale is in one of the factory buildings: you make your way up a scary-steep flight of steps and shop the second floor, which has pretty much been taken over for the sale. Cotton, spandex, hipsters and bright colors as far as the eye can see.

One big plus about this edition of the sale is that everything is super well organized. At the beginning of the day, the merchandise is all hung up (yes, on hangers), in men's, women's or children's, then broken down by t-shirts, dresses, underwear, on and on.

The downside is that the prices aren't as sweet as they were at the parking lot sale. Upon entry, you are immediately handed a price list. You can toss it, since there's a pretty wide range of prices. For example, women's tees go from $5 to $25, with most of the good tees going for $10 or $15. We purchased a long-sleeve raglan top with a lace front for $25. The dresses range from $15 - $35; they carry the California Select vintage, and that's all 40% off. Men's tees go from $8 - $10, hoodies are from $6 - $26, and the famous y-fronts are $4. There's even some suiting, both for men and women, that American Apparel was making for another company. Most of these pieces are priced around $40. There are plenty of signs and areas that are plainly marked, but the problem is that with thousands of people traipsing through basically ransacking the place, stuff gets moved around.

One thing's for sure: there is a lot of stuff, much of it exactly the same as the merchandise currently hanging in the retail stores. One thing we loved about the sale is that they take request via Twitter. If you're looking for something you don't see out, you can simply tweet it with the #aalafleamarket, the American Apparel elves will start to work on it, and tweet you back when and if the item is found. We tried it on Saturday, asking for the floral mesh 3D jumper. About 45 minutes later, the items had been found and put out on the floor. Only problem is that we were no longer on the premises.

All in all, it's a well-run event. We arrived at 11:30 Saturday morning and walked right up; but by the time we came back downstairs to stand in line to pay, people were queuing up about 50 deep just to get inside the sale. Much to AA's credit, the sale never felt claustrophobic or like too many shoppers were being sardined inside.

Oh, and no fitting rooms. There are lot of little nooks and crannies that can be appropriated for privacy, but it's best to show up in something close to the sample sale shopper's uniform of leggings, a tank under a tee and flipflops.

After you find your goods, you get shepherded onto a creaky freight elevator and taken back down to the first floor. We had to slog through a 30-minute checkout line. The line is routed along a labryinth inside a receiving bay, and it's filled with impulse buy bins. Like hosiery, nail polish, shoes ($20, or if you buy vintage $12), bags, sunglasses?but there's some pretty weird stuff mixed in. Ok, we get all the copies of Purple, but what's up with the blond wigs? And we're not sure we could possibly wrap our heads around the Marijuana: A Story for Children book. They take credit cards, too, so no need to hit up the ATM before you go.

Our takeaway from the whole thing: It's fun, for sure. Not quite as cheap as we were hoping, but that didn't deter a lot of people from loaded up entire carts. If you go during the week, you probably won't have to wait long to check out -- we dropped back by Sunday evening around 7 (ok, we're obsessive, we admit it), and pretty much sailed through. It's at the American Apparel factory, 747 Warehouse Street. Hours are 9am to 9pm daily, through October 26.
· American Apparel Warehouse Sale is Back [Racked LA]
· American Apparel [Official Site]