Friday, October 17, 2008

Coat Sale!

One way to get psyched for fall is to go to the Salvation Army Coat Sale.  About four times a year, the Salvation Army on W. 46th St.  (I refer to it at times as my second closet) fills it's entire downstairs garage with thousands of coats:  fur, leather, wool, camouflage, satin, you name it.  "Oh my God!  Where did you find that coat?" I hear about the coats I've found there and I brag about this New York phenomenon.  Now, I need more coats in my crowded closet like a hole in my head, but each year, a friend or five (my agent came one year and found the cutest leather for himself!  I was so proud...) ask me to take them to the Coat Sale.   And twist my rubber arm, I go!  I mean, I can always donate coats I'm tired of to make room... But I lay out the rules for success (listed below) in advance, and people don't believe me... until they go for the first time.  
There is always a look of incredulous awe when they stare at the sea of treasure before them (where to start?  It seems too much...) but most of all, at the amount of people who know about this amazing "secret" and have a)shown up to line up outside at 8:30am for a door opening of 9am (my first rule for success) and b)have taken all of the pittance of shopping carts that are available to  customers.  This second rule of success is an important one as everyone goes around piling up coats they see and like for a trying on session about an hour later, everyone fighting for mirror time in front of the mere 2 mirrors in the garage.  Without a cart, your arms feel like they are going to fall off  in no time so I always come with my little can't-do-without-it red New York City shopping cart.  I get about a dozen comments from all types:  "Oh, you're smart."  "You've done this before" and "Why didn't I think of that?"  Hey, when it comes to thrifting,  I know what to do.
Rule c)wear tight fitting workout type clothes (try not to wear a coat) so that you can try things on quickly and easily is a must, as well as (and I would NEVER recommend this to anyone out in the real world!) wear a fanny pack type bag with your valuables.  Setting down your purse to try things on is cumbersome and not recommended.  Best yet, bring only what you can fit in your pockets.  My friend Erin who came for the first time in October went and dropped off her stuff at the gym first.  Good thinking, Erin!  A Renaissance Girl for sure...
Rule d)enjoy the hilarious characters you meet is one I recommend.  People from all walks of life make their pilgrimage  to the Coat Sale but I love looking around at all of us who want to save money, help out the Salvation Army's cause, & find a one-of-a-kind coat that everyone will envy you for.  After the initial rush to pile your finds into your cart, there is a camaraderie around the mirrors.  "That is a great coat!"  "Do you think I can pull this one off?"  "Come on, if you're going to do a fake fur, do it tacky!  With the right boots, that could be fabulous!"  I love New Yorkers.  
Rule e)The night before, make a mental list of things you need (a long wool swing coat?  a new funky retro leather?)  
and sizes of friends and family who might need a coat (I've even asked fellow shoppers who looked to be about the size of my husband to try on coats he might like).  This will help focus that overwhelming feeling when you first walk in to the sale into motivation. 
Coats to look for this fall:
1) fun fake furs that echo the 80's and even the long swing coats of the early 90's,  fake animal prints, too
2) short leather car coats with zippers and a tab collar (look for form fitting)
3) fake fur vests that you can belt and put over skinny jeans and cuff boots
4) for the advanced level Renaissance Girl, over sized wool coats that you can cut apart  and reassemble into the new shapes of the season
Take note:
1) Always check out the lining.  Seams can be fixed, but large rips are harder to repair.
2) Stains are most likely set so sadly, the amazing Banana Republic leather with the stain is not for you.
3) Dry cleaning your coat can be expensive.  Remember to tack on another $25 -$35 dollars onto the cost for cleaning, though some coats just won't need it.
 Don't think you're not going to walk out with one or two things you probably don't absolutely need!  What the heck?  The short coats, as of this October, are 12 dollars, long are 18 dollars, short furs and leathers are 25 dollars and long furs and leathers are 60 dollars.  Cash and credit cards are accepted and all of the money goes to the valuable community programs that the Salvation Army has provided for decades.  Ted just expects now that when I come home from the Coat Sale that I'll be laden with 2 huge bags of coats.  But he secretly loves it, I know.   What would put most people back 1,000 dollars cost me less than 100.   And he gets a new coat, too!


  1. Yo! Glad to see you here!

    Tell me - has the Coat Sale begun? I'm ready to go there right NOW.

  2. Welcome, Kevin!
    The most recent coat sale happened on October 4th. The Salvation Army holds them about 4 times a year at random times, when they reach maximum overload with their coat inventory, so I've been told by employees. They are usually announced by xeroxed flier to shoppers of the store on 46th Street and then as far as I know, word spreads by word of mouth. There is about a 2 week notice. It just pays to make donations or shop there every once in a while. Wish I had more definite info... But you can bet I'll post it on this blog as soon as I know about the next one!

  3. That is so cool! I never knew about this. Make sure you post the next coat sale on your blog and I'll make sure I'm there.

  4. OK -- Did you get that green leather jacket at the Salvation Army? And where did you get all that great furniture in that picture?

  5. Yes! Isn't it the coolest? 25 dollars... and it's really in perfect condition... I tell you, I have a whole closet of coats from the Coat Sale and I will definitely post when the next one is as soon as I know. It's fairly random... But know that there are great finds to be had daily at that and many other Thrift Stores all over the world. Just learn to love the hunt...

  6. As far as the furniture in our living room, much of it is from Ikea but the plum couch was my first big purchase as a bachelorette. I bought it at Macy's and it's lasted for about 10 years now. Definitely a challenge to move, but I designed the whole room around it. The leather chair is the one splurge that Ted and I made. Our other bargains made it possible to buy it, though we got it on sale and then haggled for it. The tiger rug is from a sale at Macy's and the rug underneath is from a clearance at Lowe's. The lamps are Ikea (with details I sewed on myself) and the curtains I sewed from bargain fabric from the garment district. 4 dollars a yard or something like that. I promise to post about design projects soon. Thanks for reading!

  7. Despair not about shopping. You look fabulous in everything you wear.

    Enjoyed your approach and want to suggest you get hooked on e-bay, my drug of choice. Though coats? I've done very well at Loehmann's.

  8. Sybil!
    Welcome! And I'm glad you mentioned e-bay. I have to say that other than buying a futon couch that has worked out perfectly for us on Craigslist, my experience of shopping online is definitely lacking! I welcome anyone who wants to comment more about online bargains! And has anyone shopped I might have to buy something just for research. Yes, that would be the only reason! Research...

  9. OMG I need to plan business trip to NYC around this, I don't think we have this in Cali. Do we?-Kim

  10. Overstock: I got my huge black comfy leather coffee table/storage bench there. However I heard they sell stolen goods there. Has anyone heard that too?-Kim

  11. The next Coat Sale is here already!
    Go this Saturday, November 8th, at 9am-5pm to 536 W. 46th St. and let me know what treasures you find!

  12. Another will be on Deceber 6th.

  13. are there any more at this time of year?
    ...beginning of february.

  14. I just went by the Salvation Army on 46th St. and inquired and like I was told, there are no more Coat Sales planned for this season. August will have the next official Coat Sale.
    But apparently, they often have spur of the moment warehouse sales (just had one last Saturday! Sorry I didn't check in sooner...) that they inform shoppers about the week before so it pays to go in every once in a while and ask. These sales are always on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.
    If I hear of one, you can be sure I'll post, or please post here when you find out!
    Happy shopping...


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