On Friday, July 16, Nordstrom will introduce new fall merchandise at discounted prices. After August 1, the prices go up. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a sale for planners who can think ahead to leather boots and wool suits when outside it's 90 and humid. It is a sale designed to make shoppers feel special - like they're getting a deal before anyone else. But getting that opportunity with everyone else isn't enough - the department store lets some customers pre-shop the sale. Ask and most sales associates will say the pre-shopping opportunity - which means avoiding crowds, getting first pick and having your selections shipped to your home at no cost - is open to Nordstrom card holders. But I know some credit card holders who don't get invited. And I know at least one person who doesn't have a Nordstrom card, or an unlimited budget, and still, she gets invited to pre-shop every year. So what's the real story? Ask. Nicely. The pre-shopping is open through Wednesday, July 14, I was told when I called the children's shoe department today. At first, the salesperson told me I'd need a Nordstrom card to shop ahead. When I pressed, and mentioned my friend, she said I could come in make my picks from the new sale merch. Sales associates are out to establish relationships, and helping shoppers buy early and feel excited about it is the perfect way to create those ties. Meanwhile, If you're content to preview the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale online - including beauty exclusives, click here.