While the world was watching Fashion Week and hailing its designers and the supermodels who walked in their shows, I turned the spotlight on one of the best-kept sartorial secrets of the Upper East Side: the Goodwill Industries Store & Donation Center on Second Avenue between 88th and 89th Streets.
Some hear the name and think that it’s yet another secondhand warehouse where the tired, poor, huddled masses go to pick through the castoffs that other people almost threw away, but decided to pass on instead.
May they keep thinking that, so those in the know can enjoy combing the two-story treasure trove for designer finds, which for some reason the owners decided not to consign, or for new-with-tags items that stores didn’t want to keep around in order to make room for new stock.
In fact, the merchandise at this Goodwill location is so prime that the staff cherry picks the best stuff for the display windows, which are only taken out on Saturdays when they open at 9 a.m., with a line already halfway down the block having formed sometimes as early as 6 or 7 that morning.
A la procuring tickets to a rock concert, staffers hand each person in line a ticket, then customers are let in a couple at a time and can choose two items from the window. Yes, there are people who wait all week and get up early on a Saturday to buy what Goodwill is selling.
Last weekend, I scored big with a mint condition, never-worn, new-with-manufacturers-tags BCBG short, white trench for $50, a Deux Lux burgundy and navy, vegan leather bucket bag -- again new with tags -- for $25, and a pair of never worn Sam Edelman tan sandals for $30. (Although there were no original tags, if the shoes had been worn, they were done so on a rug because the soles looked box new.)
Just like at Duane Reade, Goodwill has a store card that allows you to accumulate points with each purchase, which eventually translate into a dollar amount; hence, I got five dollars off my purchase making my new coat, shoes and bag total $100.
I’ve brought people to this thrift store under duress. The phrase, “Are you crazy?” has been bandied about more than once, as I tried to convince them of the shopping experience they’re missing out on. I’ve seen the strained smiles on their faces that betray their thoughts, “Did her husband lose his job? Is that why she shopping there? Should we take up a collection?” I then ended up lending them my store card for their many purchases so they could get 10% off -- a perk that is available when you shop Monday through Friday.
Still not convinced? Good. Stay away; especially on Saturday mornings when they’re taking the name brands out of the window, so the rest of us can get our hands on the Manolos, Kate Spades, Lily Pulitzers, and…well you get the idea. It’s always fashion week at the UES Goodwill.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels FAT CHICK and BACK TO WORK SHE GOES.