When we arrived (5 minutes before the sale began) there were only 5 other shoppers there. Yes, it was raining, but still! So The Husband and I grabbed a cart, looked at all the vendors' booths and bought ONE PLANT (a viburnum). Then we drove the hour and the half home.
I'm about to do one of those things I always hate when other people do - Back in North Carolina where I used to garden we had some serious plant sales. Let me describe them to you.
At North Carolina State University's Arboretum they had annual spring and fall sales that raised money for horticultural scholarships. If I arrived 5 minutes before that sale began, in the rain, I would be about person 100 in line and lots of people would have brought their own carts. They often had rare and unusual plants, including some that weren't yet commercially available. I never left without the back seat of my car stuffed full.
NCSU also had plant giveaways where members of the arboretum could get free plants that had been propagated by students learning the trade. Again there were lots of unusual plants and for this one if you weren't there on time you were out of luck. Image, if you will, over a thousand plants being given away in less than 7 minutes, civilly.
Add to that the University of Chapel Hill's Botanical Garden which also had twice yearly sales (and again, you needed to show up on time to get the best choices) and Duke University's Sarah Duke Garden's plant sale (ditto) and I had great opportunities to get plants either cheaply, or hard to find plants or even plants not available on the market. THAT's what I call plant sales.
I'm still hoping that there are sales like that up here that I just don't know about yet. If anyone knows of really good sales in New England I'd love to hear about them. I'm still dealing with transplant shock.