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
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!