Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ike Designs Jewelry - Exclusive Discount from G.S. NYC!

Dear Guerilla Shoppees:

I am writing to offer you an exclusive G.S. NYC 20% discount on Ike Designs - the exquisite jewelry hand crafted by Dori O'Dea. Dori, a Brooklyn local, is not only a jewelry designer, but also a BOXER - so be nice to her! She has created intricate necklaces and earrings using beautifully colored gems that will make any gal's heart sing. Visit to peruse her inventory and make your selections.
To receive your 20% discount on online orders made between today** and January 31:

1. Place your order online -

2. Then, send an email to with "Guerilla Shopper" in the subject line and your order number in the body.

3. She will then discount the charge when she processes the card (it won't show at checkout, but will be reflected in the receipt she emails back to you as confirmation upon Credit Card Authorization).

4. Alternatively, there is a space for comments on the cart page, where you can write "Guerilla Shopper" and get the 20% discount, as per step #3., above.

5. To read about how to order online, which is pretty intuitive anyway, you can visit the "FAQ" section of the site, at

Or stop by the Young Designer's Market in New York City every Saturday through December 23rd and get 10% off your in-person purchase. And say hi to Dori for me. The Market is located at 268 Mulberry Street, just below Houston...

Pictured above are gemstone pendants on silver including, ruby, pink tourmaline, garnet, carnelian, coral, citrine, peridot, apatite, kyanite, iolite, London blue topaz, and tanzanite. Dori also works in gold and other gems - labradorite, pearl, solmonite, smokey quartz, rose quartz, quartz, goldstone, hematite, calcite, andalusite, malachite, jade, sapphire, diamond, and whatever else she can get her hands on! Her online collection includes necklaces and earrings, but she also does bracelets and is developing a line of rings. She does custom work and specializes in bridal parties, with all kinds of budgets. CHECK HER OUT!

Working to help you buy more stuff with as little capital outlay as possible,
Guerilla Shopper NYC (that's me)

**Final date for purchases with guarantee of Christmas delivery is December 21, 2006.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Kenneth Cole Gold Boots Befitting a Superhero!

Cheesey? Maybe... Boring? Hardly... Ignorable? NEVER! I recently picked up this pair of gold Kenneth Cole boots at his beloved outlet in Secaucus, NJ. FOR THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS.

I don't care what you say or think. They are fabulous, stylish and comfortable and, when I wear them, I feel like a superhero! Or maybe the FTD Mercury logo guy, at the very least. Either way you can wear them straight up or folded over. With a skirt or pants. And funnily (funnily?) enough, the color is a neutral -- meaning it goes with practically everything.

Now color is one thing, but style is another. Meaning I wouldn't be caught dead in these with any kind of formal wear, and probably not any delicate-material skirt. I may be periodically flashy, but I'm not tasteless!
I gotta zoom on outta here in my gold boots and get back over to the Seacaucus's been too long!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Teriyaki Boy - Great Japanese fast-food

Are you a fan of the BOY? The Teriyaki BOY? I have been having an affair with this particular Boy since 1997. He provides me with a luscious alternative to typical New York fast food…Japanese-style! Not only does the boy offer fun combo Teriyaki combo platters of the chicken, salmon and EEL kind, but he also rolls up all types of sushi for you. It tastes good and is reasonably priced!

And for those of you, like me, who aren’t so prone to cooking or baking for parties that you throw or attend, the Boy works on your behalf, ensuring that you have enough Party Sushi Platters to serve your guests. And so reasonable! I consistently get rave reviews on the Party Roll – 74 pieces of cut sushi rolls – California, tuna, eel, salmon & avocado and more…all for a mere $26.99. You can hardly get four a la carte rolls for that much in this town anymore.

The Boy is strategically located in various spots throughout the city for your daytime or nighttime enjoyment: Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Midtown, East Village, Financial District, you name it. And he’s even willing to give you his digits.

Monday, November 27, 2006


A penny saved is...another penny you can use to spend on clothes! I have always saved my pennies and turned them in for legal tender once I built up some critical mass. A year or so ago I became frustrated by the change-making machines a la Coinstar located in NYC supermarkets - not only do they take a percentage of your moola (7-8 percent?), but they are regularly out of commission. Not something that made the G.S. happy -- marching about town with a huge bag of change seemed somehow noble at first, but then just got tiresome. I went from a happy elf to a pissed off Hamburglar.

This is when I did some research and found out about the Penny Arcade at Commerce Bank. The Penny Arcade is a free coin counting service provided for both customers and non-customers (all coins, not just pennies). You simply drop your coins into the Penny Arcade and after the coins are counted, a receipt is generated, which you take to a teller for cash or for deposit into a Commerce account. For the location nearest to you call 1-888-751-9000.

An added bonus, at least the last time I was there, is that if you guess how much your change is worth within a couple of dollars, you win a prize! A prize beyond your wildest dreams! A red plastic "C is for Commerce" piggy bank (pictured)! Not only a brilliant marketing idea, but a real incentive to save...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

REPORT: First Day of Xmas Shopping

Today the Guerilla Shopper ventured out into the overpopulated island on which she dwells in search of good gifts at reasonable prices. This is tough to do since many of the people I buy for also read my blog, but I will do my best not to give anything away, or at least keep everyone guessin'.

First, I couldn't help but buy myself a present - this pretty purple sweater. I know I told you not to buy anything for yourself this close to Christmas because you never know what someone else might be giving you, but I am the Guerilla Shopper and this is all in the name of research for you. YES I HAVE TO BUY MYSELF THINGS TO HELP OTHERS! I've really come up with a grand idea here, 'aven't I?

So anyway, I bought the sweater at the downtown location of a store I recently blogged about called pa or personal affairs. I am happy to report that the downtown location is as welcoming and the saleswoman as friendly and helpful as the uptown store. You really need to visit and check out the clothes and other fun things that have been imported from Germany. I learned that the owner's sister designs the clothes in Germany and he brings them into the U.S. They really have a good thing going here and I support their efforts!

Moving on:
  • If you are interested in buying top-notch skin care, body, and makeup products, you need to go to Origins. The one in the Flatiron Building is nice -- if you go here, you will be visiting a landmark building, thus killing two birds with one stone. Shopping and architectural culture all mixed together! How intellectual!
  • The Gap has decent men's and baby clothes (I've decided not to make a joke here). Decent quality, "current" design, good return policy for the holidays (merchandise can be returned with an original and/or gift receipt up until 180 days after the purchase date), and acceptable prices further supported by constant sales. I also think their women's underwear/sleepwear is cute. I am less a fan of their women's clothing except for the occasional "staple." Call me a snob. You won't be the first.
  • Union Square's outdoor Christmas market - full of tents featuring all kinds of unique gifts for the holidays. This is a great place for out-of-towners to pick up fun, cute and cool stuff for the family back in Ohio or Newcastle (England). If you are seeking really interesting jewelry, go find the reBel Designs booth. I bought my mother a necklace from "them" at an outdoor summer street fair this past spring. It's nice. She liked it.

Something of a bummer:

  • My favorite discount shoe warehouse a.k.a. DSW does not have a return policy for the holidays (it remains 30 days from the date of purchase), so I didn't buy anything from there today, although I was going to! Perhaps I shall return the week before Christmas if I am still in need. Not wise DSW, you just lost a decent-sized sale!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

My Hair Secret: Helik at Dop Dop Salon (in Soho)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Your hair is not a place to cut corners! (no pun intended) You may have to spend more money than you want to, or than your husband/significant other wants you to. Tough. Do it. It will make you look better, feel better and give you something to look forward to every 6 weeks or so...8 weeks at the longest. This is where you can spend the money that you've saved after utilizing effective Guerilla Shopping technique!

OK, now that I've scolded you, I will offer an olive branch and let you in on my hair secret. His name is Helik (pictured above) and you can catch him at Dop Dop Salon in Soho on Fridays and Saturdays. I'm only telling you this because he promised that if I wrote about him, he would always make sure that I get an appointment no matter how popular he becomes. And I shall hold him to this!

Not only is he a great hairstylist and colorist who also does hair for photoshoots all over the world, but he's a cool, friendly guy who removes the tedium that can sometimes come along with getting one's hair colored. I often spend more than three hours with him! Additionally, Dop Dop Salon provides a laid back atmosphere with some decent people-watching opportunity as well as free candy and soda (they always get me with that!). So don't fear the trendier-than-thou neighborhood - this place is something of an oasis for the down-to-earthlings among us.

Most imporantly, remember: Friends Don't Let Friends Go to Supercuts!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Camp on Perry - Dual-Purpose storefronts

Are you aware of the phenomenon of two completely unrelated kinds of businesses sharing a storefront? You may have come across a hair salon/jewelry counter or a cell phone/mini mart now and again, but how about a women's clothing boutique/real estate agency? Well, it exists at 177 Perry Street in the West Village where Holly Waterfield holds court at Camp on Perry.

For the sake of sensationalism, I will call this sharing of space a new phenomenon overtaking New York, but truth be told I'm not sure when it started. However, with skyrocketing rents overtaking every inch of this little island, it only makes sense that small business owners join forces and lower their overhead, whether or not they are in similar industries.

At Camp on Perry, Ms. Waterfield, pictured above in her own maternity creation, sells refurbished vintage wear, designs from new up-and-coming local designers, as well as her own creations, which she works on at her sewing machine right before your very eyes. The eye-catching green sequined dress in the photo comes from a Brooklyn designer and is something to be seen - and tried on - in person. The filing cabinet and chair off to the right is the real estate business run by her friend and "location associate" to coin a new term.

So as we all know, the three most important things in succeeding in retail is "location, location, location" and if you have two-businesses-in-one, that's practically six locations! Here's to creative solutions amidst financial obstacles. Go check it out!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


OK, enough of this low-budget speak! Let's dance and get fancy!

Have you drank Lillet? It's a French aperitif made from local wine. I drink white Lillet with club soda and a slice of orange, but it's available in red too. I learned about it in a wine class that I took at The New School in an effort to become cultured. I don't know if that happened, but I did get introduced to Lillet, which made it worthwhile (even though we were stuffed into the basement of some historical house in the East 20s).

Oh, I also learned that I don't really like Chardonnay, even though I have been drinking it for a decade or more. Anyway, you can't find Lillet everywhere, but I have gotten it at various liquor stores in NYC and NJ for $15-$19 a bottle, which usually requires the owner, stockboy and cashier to help me hunt it down - I just purchased a bottle at Buy Rite Discount Liquors on Third Ave. & 28th St. (they usually have decent prices in there, relatively speaking) for $15.99. I have also found it in more upscale bars, or bars that make fancy drinks for the ladies. THE LADIES!!!

I think I shall find it to be a lite and refreshing imbibement as I drink it from a fancy glass this Thanksgiving weekend. Drinking from a fancy glass makes all drinks a bit better - try it, you'll like it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Portolano sample sale - This Week

Portolano's sample sale is going on now - today, tomorrow and Wednesday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Located on the 11th floor of 15 West 37th St., this sale offers gloves, knits, small leather goods, handmade Italian silk ties, cashmere coordinates and Emilio Cavallini hosiery. Be prepared to hand over your coat, purse, and first born at the door.

Now, I love leather gloves. I happily wear them for five or six months straight every year. And this sale has hundreds, maybe thousands of styles and colors. But I didn't buy any. Why? Well, I'm hoping I can subtly hint that I need a few pair for Christmas - nice ones - in black, red and "surprise me." But I was also not impressed with the prices. I guess I was recently spoiled by the $1,500 worth of stuff for $100 Calypso sample sale, but a $50 pair of leather gloves that I will likely lose doesn't ring of true sample sale pricing to me.

Pearl River - an explosion of Chinese goodnesses

Isaac Mizrahi's guilty pleasure, or so I've read, is the store called Pearl River on Broadway in Soho. It's a bazaar of imported Chinese/Asian goods - from clothes to bags to food to dishes to incense to fancy pens to pretty much whatever you want. I was so enamored with the selection that I bought a full related yet unrelated stash of goods for my friend for Christmas. I would show you what I got, but then I would wreck the miracle of surprise gifts, so instead I provide you with a photo of the bag, which is pretty cool too. Look, there's like fish and stuff.

This large two-story facility makes it seem like the Chinese New Year is every day. By shopping here, you will surely be able to outfit your family, furnish your living room, decorate for a party and then cook a meal -- all for a reasonable price! Who ever said the Chinese wouldn't make good capitalists? They are kung-fu-ing asses and taking names in this joint!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

UNIQLO Soho NY - Mob Scene

I went to UNIQLO yesterday as part of a three-stop shop excursion. It just opened on Broadway in Soho and snagged me with its advertising campaign touting $39.50 cashmere sweaters. Apparently, according to the undeniable truth of a November 10 press release:

"UNIQLO, Japan’s most popular apparel retailer and a worldwide leader in casual wear, opened its first global flagship store and the world’s largest UNIQLO in New York City, the fashion capital of the world. Located at 546 Broadway, the 36,000 square foot UNIQLO SoHo NY features the very best of UNIQLO - stylish, high-quality and affordable clothing and accessories, complemented by an unparalleled modern Japanese shopping experience in a stunning architectural landmark."

New York City? "The fashion capital of the world?" I just had to go see what this was all about.
Now I know:
1. It's mobbed
2. Sizes run from zero - 6, with the occasional 8 and less occasional 10 (for women, obviously - they also have clothing for men and children)
3. The styles are basic with an edge; materials basic with less of an edge
4. Did I mention it was mobbed?

OK, so the mobbed part is a given and I can't really bitch. If you go shopping downtown on Broadway on a weekend you are going to be run down by waves of tourists from all over the galaxy. A family of martians even knocked my sunglasses off of my head on the way in! As you probably know by now, the G.S. enjoys a bit calmer retail experience, which may indicate that she is over the hill, which also leads me to my next point...

I am too old and too American (read: I am not petite) to wear most of these clothes. Now that I know it is a Japanese company I feel a bit better about my hulking presence. I need to be coddled by American designers who slap a size 8 label on a size 10 pair of pants to make me feel better.

So UNIQLO is basically the Japanese answer to H&M; a near-department-store-sized facility that pumps out massive quantities of reasonably priced and somewhat trendy but safe fashions. OK, good great fine, carry on then.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Versani - HFM Jewelry

I am not the world's biggest jewelry fan, but I am learning. For a few years I have been visiting Versani downtown on Mercer St. I love the pictured ring that I bought for myself for around $75, because the red raised stones set in solid metal remind me of Darth Maul, which proves that I really am a dorky 12-year old boy. I also have a pair of blue some-kind-of-stone stud earrings that I love.

Darth Maul? Yes, he's a fabulous villian from Star Wars and there's no doubt that if he were to get married, this would have been his wedding ring.

But I digress. Well not really. Anyway, check this place out because they have all kinds of jewelry and what strikes me the most is the boldness of the metal and the stones. It's very clean, and yet fairly individualistic and in-your-face. They have almost as much for men as for women. Then men's selection is pretty rock and roll, but in a relatively defined and refined manner. Chains, rings...the kinds of things that every aspiring rocker needs to complete his (or her) look.

If you asked "what does 'HFM' mean?," you will have to write to me personally to get an answer for this is a family blog and most of my readers hail from the great state of Michigan for goodness sake!

p.s. Go Blue!

Gift Cards: Cop Out or Not?

I guess it's my Ms. Manners mother who has influenced me to think that gift certificates and the like do not make particularly good gifts. They are impersonal, cause the recipient to then have to go out and get something for themselves, show exactly how much you spent, and don't require much thought. I tend to agree with this line of reasoning. She also likes to wrap presents and awe the public with her skills. A gift card doesn't really allow for wrapping so much.

However, I think that they serve a purpose in some instances.

If you know that your friend is an avid reader, but you are not so savvy in the literary arts, a gift certificate from, Barnes & Noble or Borders is suitable (OK, yes, I admit it, I'm talking about myself here!). Or if you feel that your friend is in dire need of new shoes, but don't really know what style or size she would be happiest with, a gift card from DSW would be a semi-thoughtful gesture. Which leads me to my next point...

Sign up to become a DSW Rewards Member TODAY because starting this Sunday, November 19, if you buy a $50 gift card, you get a $10 bonus card redeemable between January 14 - February 3. What could be better? Buy a gift for someone else and get a gift for yourself!

Remember, you can only make others happy if YOU are happy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Black Friday - Just Say No

I do not recommend shopping on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). It's kind of like the New Year's Eve of shopping when all the amateurs come out en masse. If you don't like shopping to begin with, you will HATE it, and if you do like shopping, you will begin to seriously question your sanity.

While it's true that the stores offer all kinds of discounts and deals on this special day, realize that it is merely a marketing ploy to instill panic and fear in the hearts of those who don't know better or have not read my extremely informative blog. G.S. insights to consider, and act upon include:
  • Retailers want your money any day of the week. Meaning, there will be other sales and promotions up until Christmas Day, and probably better as Christmas draws closer.
  • Buy early what you can online to avoid crowds and malls and ensure timely delivery. If you wait too long, problems with availability and delievery can arise. However, I almost never buy clothes or shoes online because I really need to see and inspect apparel first hand and I hate having to return things in the mail.
  • Don't buy anything for yourself until after Christmas. First, you never know what you might get as a gift. Second, the sales after Christmas are even better than on Black Friday.
  • If you can, take a day or two off of work in December to go Xmas shopping (a Monday or Tuesday, let's say). If you can't, go as early in the day as possible on a weekend. Except if you live in Bergen County, NJ where the stores are CLOSED on Sunday because of some 3,000 year-old "blue law" that was surely inspired by religion.
  • Avoid shopping until after Nov. 20 because Mercury is in retrograde. OK, I read this somewhere, that you shouldn't buy electronics because of this crazy astrology stuff that I don't believe in. Except that I'm not going to buy anything until after early next week. Call me superstitious.
  • Buy gifts at stores with good return policies. This unfortunately usually means going to the big department/chain stores, however, it's worth it in the end because your loved ones can get what they really want, or what fits them...and don't you want to spend your money effectively? One year I decided to only shop at independent stores and it was a huge debacle where nothing was returnable, or only for store credit good for a week.
  • Downsize the list of people you buy gifts for, if only to reduce your stress during the holidays. Can you buy one big gift for your uncle's entire family, instead of one gift each for your uncle, aunt and three cousins? Can you arrange a dinner out with all of your friends instead of buying each of them a present? All of this rabid gift-giving can really get overwhelming and I believe that there are better ways to enjoy the holiday (food, drink) and each other than via a new green pullover fleece!
  • URGENT NOTE: BOYFRIENDS/HUSBANDS MUST BUY GIRLFRIENDS/WIVES NICE GIFTS AND VICE VERSA. Cost isn't necessarily the issue, it is really the (serious and creative) thought that counts, I swear. And if you don't do it, you suck and will be in the dog house, possibly for eternity.

I will provide more holiday shopping insight and experiences during the festive season! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

H&M...Maybe I'm too Old?

H&Mmmmm...Would I like H&M more if I were 20 years old? Possibly. No doubt that their marketing strategy is spot-on, whereby they commission the likes of Stella McCartney and Viktor & Rolf (a wedding dress for $349!?) to provide cutting-edge fashions that are pretty much affordable to the masses. And they're wisely opening a new store on 5th Avenue in the 20s where the sucky Daffy's used to be. But am I going to wait on line for hours to fight over clothes and spend my dosh among scores of tourists? Apparently not, since I have never done so.

I have certainly perused a few H&M stores and bought some items here and there -- but not to any great degree. It's never my true destination, but usually a "why not?" kind of visit. I guess I feel that the stores are great big giant messes and the apparel is not top-notch. In fact, the two pair of pants that I own are cast-offs acquired at a clothing swap and some other tops I bought have since worn out. I guess the best-looking piece I have is the red tuxedo-like shirt pictured here, but it's not long for this world I can assure you. I had to sew up a seam about 10 minutes after I bought it. If I'm going to buy disposable clothing, they need to cost a dollar.

Changing topics, I just heard about a new site called, where you can go green with a free daily ecomail that provides you with one eco tip or organic product. Find out how you can charge your phone or iPod with a solar backpack and where to find soap with a package that turns into a basil plant. Or what about getting paid to recycle? Or how about organic CLOTHES (roll 'em up and smoke 'em)?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Parental Update, Urbanite, Sephora,

Hi all. Thought I'd forewarn you that today's post is going to be a hodgepodge of information. But I will be organized about it, and you will gain new insights and information that you will be able to use for yourself, and then against me somehow later on.

1. You'll be happy to know, as I was, that my parents did not disown me over yesterdays' blog. However, I left out a most important point on how they saved their money that allowed them to dress like fancy pants all these years, and also send me to a great out-of-state college: THEY ONLY HAD ONE KID (thanks to jay eff for that reminder!). The pictured rose is my peace offering to them.

2. Urbanite - Those brainiacs at The New York Times beat me to it with this new daily publication, which provides readers with what to see, eat, do and wear in New York City. It is a free e-mail newsletter sent Monday through Friday where you can find out about New York's newest restaurants, cultural events, latest styles, the best places to shop and more. There's also a weekend guide sent each Friday to help you plan your weekend. I have emailed the editor Melena Ryzik about Guerilla Shopper, but surprisingly have not heard back. She must be tremendously jealous. Let's hope she gets pregnant and goes on permanent maternity leave and then I can take over for her. I will accept an offer as a contributor in the meantime.

3. Sephora is opening a new store on Friday, November 17 at 711 Lexington Avenue @57th St. It's the most beautiful place on earth - they said so! Kidding aside, I love makeup they way I loved markers and crayons as a kid, so this place is fun for a girl and a boy (depending on what kind of boy we're talking about).

4. - Have you heard about this new shopping site? I've checked it out a bit, haven't acutally used it, but it sounded intriguing in The New York Times article that another G.S. friend passed along: offers a shortcut for the budget-minded wannabe. The site, rolled out last week, relies on artificial intelligence technology to search images on the Web, and serve up goods for sale that visually match items on a shopper’s wish list.
Visitors to the site search for products in one of two ways. First, they may type in “red strappy shoes” or silver earrings and receive pages filled with images that match the description, along with prices and links to the product pages of the Web sites where the items are sold. Or users may browse through selected items in the wardrobes of about a dozen celebrities, including Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Simpson and choose, say, a pair of the dangling silver earrings Ms. Johansson wore to the premiere of “Scoop.” The site then searches for similar earrings, returning more than 8,000 pairs ranging in price from $40 to $8,000.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Parental Shopping Influence

OK, so here they are - albeit 38 years ago - the parents who have instilled in me a fervent dedication to beating retail wherever and whenever possible. Dashing pair, aren't they? No, they aren't really old enough to be true products of the depression, but boy you coulda fooled me! Today, I affectionately refer to them as Mr. and Mrs. Magoo.

Anyway, they did, and still do, have a unified approach to getting good stuff for less by spending as little of their own money as possible. For example, there is no way that either of them paid retail for what they are wearing in this photo. In fact, I'm pretty sure my dad bought my mom this dress on one of his excursions. I will have to get the story and update this blog after they return from A/C this weekend (and no, they aren't paying for the hotel room at the Borgata either). Part of the strategy is holding on to what little money you have for dear life. How does one do this for decades? Some tips and tricks include:
  • PAY CASH for EVERYTHING - I'm pretty sure that store owners all over the tri-state area think they are in the mob. Purchases of furniture, TVs, reupholstery...whatever...all in CASH. This means you never owe anybody anything, especially credit card companies with insane interest rates. While we have major credit cards, we have never not paid our entire credit card bills IN FULL, every month, ever. This means you can never buy something unless you know you have the cash in the bank to cover it. A crazy notion for most people, I know. I thank my parents for this unAmerican approach to finances.
  • Get a job that provides a company car - My parents bought two cars between 1971 and 1993. No, that is not a typo. TWO CARS in 22 years. My dad bought my mom a 1971 white Plymouth Duster for like $1,500 with AM radio, no air conditioning, vinyl interior and seat belts that snaked along the window frame and were completely unusable. She had this car until 1987 or '88, at which point she was able to buy her own car - a 1983 black Buick Riviera with grey velvet interior. That car was badass. Otherwise, my dad was given whatever middle management mobile his company got the best deal on every 2-3 years. He didn't even have to pay for gas.
  • Take the family to annual corporate conventions and call it "vacation" - Almost every summer my mom and I went with my dad to his annual company convention in various North American cities - Atlanta, Toronto, Montreal, Detroit (woo hoo), Chicago, Boston, Hawaii, San Diego, Reno, etc. Most of the time we drove (refer to point above, this means we got there for free), but I finally put my foot down when my dad thought it would be a good idea for us to drive from NJ to LAS VEGAS. These conventions were held at posh hotels, which we also got to stay in for free, since my dad was working the entire time. Funny, but I always managed to return from these trips with more money than I brought - I guess I was an eager young Jedi.
  • Bring your own liquor - A continuation on the vacation tip -- we all know how exorbitant mini bar prices are in hotel rooms. How do you avoid this? Bring your own Dewars and Absolute fifths from home.
  • Make friends with rich, generous people - I probably don't have any idea of how many social events - dinners, shows, parties, drinks - that my parents got for free from their wealthy, generous friends, but I do know that one particular couple bought me my first bike, my second bike, Colecovision and a color TV. So this particular strategy directly served me well.
  • If it ain't broke, don't buy a new one - Keep furniture, dishware, even clothing until they literally break or fall apart. It's only fairly recent that my parents started buying furniture. During my whole life the house was furnished with items that they had from before they were married. They still eat off of the same and only dishes they ever had (a wedding present)!
  • Buy a "how to prepare chicken in 125 different ways" cookbook - My mother has prepared chicken, the lowest-priced meat product, in more ways than even Rachael Ray could concoct.
  • Don't go to the movies - EVER - I mean, you can't get out of there for less than $22 per couple, so why not just wait 5 years for it to come out on TV? Don't bother renting videos or DVDs either, just be patient! They'll show it on TV...eventually. The last movie my mom saw in the theater? Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985.
  • Save supermarket bags - and use them as garbage bags. I myself have about 18,000 D'agastino's plastic bags in my coat closet.
  • Wait until your kids move out of the house before you install central airconditioning - self explanatory.

If you follow these steps, you will have more of your own money than you should with which to purchase fancy clothes at outlets, discount stores and sample sales that will make you appear as though you have more money than you do.

My dad, for example, is literally a Democrat in Republican's clothing. Ha ha suckaas...we're infiltrating the GOP in our fancy pants and then BLAM! How do you think the House and Senate so easily went D this year? That's right...SYMS!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

NYC: Fun with Fashion(?) I

So, the Metal 80s are back [below], or perhaps in this guy's case, they never left? Spandex pants AND high-top Chucks? I love New Jersey (I'm guessing on that one, but I'll make a wager if I have to)!

Question: Why would you buy and then wear a black backless shirt with a big ol' white tank top underneath [above, right]?

Todaro Brothers: My Hero

I love roast beef heroes. They must be on long hero rolls with tomato, salt and pepper, and mayonaise (yes, I am a white girl and love the mayo). I first came upon this kind of fine cuisine at the German deli "downtown" where I grew up. I put "downtown" in quotes because it features about 7 stores total.

Anyway, I have had hits and misses in my efforts to replace the lost hero...and as such, I have determined that Todaro Brothers on Second Ave. fills a gaping meat void. Adorned in bloody white butcher lab coats, the guys at Todaro Bros. are old-school - eager to fulfill your every half pound desire, be it meat, cheese, fish, pickles, or a beautiful combination of the aforementioned on bread, also known lovingly as sandwich.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Hello...KITTY! Rraahr...

Since the early 80s I have loved the intricate doo-dads imported to us from Japan by the good people of Sanrio. The obsession with pencils, pens, smelly erasers, stickers and the like pretty much overwhelmed me. Hello Kitty? LITTLE TWIN STARS??!! Oh how you slay me.

So call it an adult indulgence: the Sanrio store on W. 42nd St. This place is almost like walking into some kind of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie set (note to self: write a Hello Kitty movie script). It's just so rewarding that as a grown-up, I can finally afford to buy anything I want in here, as opposed to having to budget the $2.75 that I begged my mother for in 1982.

How glorious would it be to have a luggage set that matched the microwave that matched the towels that matched the chewing gum...all in shades of pink and adorned with cartoon logos of somewhat familiar animal-like critters? Somebody is smoking something here, and I hope they're exhaling in turquoise and lavender with a strawberry-like fragrance.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Barbara Feinman Millinery Gives Good Hat

Great hats, jewelry and accessories dot the boutique known as Barbara Feinman Millinery on 66 E. 7th St. Although the prices in here are not exactly of the discounted kind, the quality and service makes up for the difference.

Last year I purchased the partially pictured hat/scarf combination, which has served me tremendously well. Listen up, as this is coming from a known hat-0-phobe. The colors, the soft materials and the design have won me over and I think that I am on a road to recovery. I am willing to accept hat head in exchange for a stylish dome. In fact, I am thinking about returning to the boutique to peruse other hat options.

Additionally, the good people at BFM custom-made me a shrug made from an interesting metallic lace material to wear in my friend's non-traditional wedding. Their recommendations and attention to detail and service were impressive and made me feel good about my purchase. This is key in the retail/fashioin business, and yet, so often overlooked!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sexxy Mexx-y

Mexx is Club Monaco's unkempt (German) cousin. I like Mexx well enough, and you can get good deals by signing up for the store credit card (be careful with store credit cards though, read my post from October!). Additionally, they offer many sale items upstairs in their midtown-Fifth Ave. location. But I find it odd that they are located along the same strip as St. John, Versace and Gucci. I was going to suggest that they relocate downtown on Broadway because I feel like their demographic is more trendy college/post-college, but then I checked and they DO have a location downtown on Broadway (between Spring and Broome). So while I'm late to the party, my savvy strategic shopping mind is on point.

My other issue is that some of their clothes are generally disposable, meaning that I feel they are too trendy and I don't find that they are very well-made. The colors fade, garments tend to lose their shape, materials lack "staying power." However, to be fair and balanced, I do own several Mexx pieces and have also purchased very well-priced Mexx items at Loehmann's - a black dress, pants and skirt - and they have served me pretty well.

I guess my feelings about Mexx are as schizophrenic as I feel their clothes are. It must be some kind of German plot to confuse us.

Delman Sample Sale, Nov. 7 - 9

Today, tomorrow and the next day is the Delman (shoes) sample sale at 730 Fifth Avenue @57th St. (8th Floor). They take cash and credit cards.

It is insane in there.

For the uninitiated, Delman shoes have mostly classic designs, are decent quality and VERY expensive. So while they are cheaper than usual, I still couldn't get excited about spending $99 - $150 for one pair of flats, especially since there are hundreds of women knocking each other over all over the floor, lunging for shoes in stacks of boxes. They also make you check your bag and coat at the door, grrrr....

HOWEVER! If you are feeling like an ultimate guerilla (especially if you are a size 6.5 or 9 - there is a special section of $60 samples), my suggestion is to go there without a bag or a coat (it's warm today!) - not during lunchtime - put your head down, and dive in. And make sure you are in a really good mood too.

Furniture Part IV: ABC Carpet is Dreamy

I am going to crack open my anti-retail armor for you and admit how much I love ABC Carpet & Home: I love it infinity.

If I had countless dollars and no financial conscience, I would probably adorn my whole apartment with goods from this festival of furniture on Broadway near Union Square. Have you been? GO! The first floor is a wonderland of lamps, chandeliers, jewelry, if you stumbled upon some Sultan's palace. It continues to awe and inspire for several more floors. You have to see it to believe it.

Over the years I have managed to purchase the mini-tiffany lamp pictured above, two carpets (my dad bought one), and bedding, which I somehow inherited from my parents as well. So in fact I haven't really managed to purchase much on my own. But I digress...

Back when I was seeking a new couch, I visited the Broadway location and spied the most beautifully outrageous piece of sittery that I have ever laid my eyes on. It was too good for even Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. Perhaps if it had been motorized, enabling me to cruise it around town, I might have considered it, but a $10,000 couch that merely remains stationary just didn't provide enough of a selling point for me to cash in my entire life's savings.

NOTE: There are two nearby outlets: one in the Bronx and the other in Hackensack, NJ. I have been to neither, but my parents have. I suspect this is where my bedding came from. The cushion falls not far from the chair.

Monday, November 06, 2006

AAHHH! Lord & Taylor to Leave NYC??

As some of you may have read here a couple of weeks ago, I am a BIG Lord & Taylor fan.
I just spotted this tragic article in Crain's this morning about the store leaving the city altogether. President Richard Baker claims they "want to be where people live, not where they work..." Did anyone tell him there are 8 million+ people in NYC? Sigh...well, in my view, it's really their ineffective marketing that is causing this drastic step to be considered. But it's that same ineffective marketing that made me like shopping there so much -- nobody knew where they were or what they were selling, so Guerillas could go in and feast on the treasures without hassle or bother! Alas...
. . . . .
CRAIN'S New York Business
Lord & Taylor may abandon Manhattan
Suburban gains revive famous chain; smaller NY location possible
Published: November 5, 2006 - 6:59 am

Lord & Taylor's new owner may abandon New York City and turn the venerable retail chain's Fifth Avenue flagship into condominiums or office space.Private-equity firm NRDC Equity Partners, which bought the 180-year-old department store chain last month, had spoken publicly about reducing the flagship's retail space, but President Richard Baker now says he is considering more drastic plans. Purchase, N.Y.-based NRDC may move the store — a landmark on Fifth Avenue and West 39th Street for 92 years — to another Manhattan location. Or it could leave town altogether, moving its flagship to the suburbs."It's nice having a Manhattan store, but I wouldn't call it key," Mr. Baker says. "We want to be where people live, not where they work." He gave no timetable for making a decision.Although the idea of sacrificing their Manhattan foothold would give many retailers nightmares, Lord & Taylor's leaders have lost little sleep over the possibility. Chief Executive Jane Elfers spent the past six years remaking the once-dowdy department store chain into a popular shopping destination for middle-aged women living in smaller cities and suburban areas. Cleanup womanSince landing the top spot in 2000, when the chain was owned by May Department Stores, Ms. Elfers has closed underperforming locations, replaced 80% of the product offerings to bring in higher-quality merchandise and improved customer service. She managed these tasks even as May prepared to merge with Federated Department Stores, which then sold the Lord & Taylor chain to NRDC for $1.2 billion. "We were never trying to imitate Neiman Marcus or Saks," Ms. Elfers says. "I'm looking for a different customer."As a result of the upgrades, Lord & Taylor's 38 stores are wowing soccer moms throughout the Northeast. The average customer is 41 and has $100,000 in household income, in sharp contrast to the norm six years ago, when the store's average shopper was over 50 with just $60,000 in income, Ms. Elfers says. In addition, sales have increased: In stores open at least a year, sales grew by about 8% in August and September, and about 5% in October. Lord & Taylor generated revenues of $1.6 billion in 2004, the most recent year for which data are available.Candace Cortlett, a principal of consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, liked what she saw during a recent visit to the New York City store."They had a great mix of urban trendy and suburban classic," Ms. Cortlett says. "I was really impressed and look forward to going back."Even so, the flagship continues to falter. The Fifth Avenue giant generates just 9% of the chain's sales. By comparison, the flagship for Saks Fifth Avenue generates 20% of that retailer's revenues.The 600,000-square-foot Lord & Taylor would need a serious makeover to compete with New York's plethora of high-style retailers. NRDC Equity Partners, a joint venture between National Realty & Development Corp. and Apollo Real Estate Advisors, may still decide to simply trim the store to a more manageable 200,000 square feet and build condos above it. Other possibilities include relocating the flagship to a smaller site in the city, opening a smaller store here and moving the flagship to a suburban spot such as Scarsdale, and leaving New York City altogether. If Lord & Taylor were to leave Fifth Avenue, few New Yorkers would miss it. The location is already out of the way for many residents, and tourists rarely shop in the neighborhood. Though locals who haven't been to the store in a while might like the changes — the reduction in clutter, the fresh brands and better service — they're more likely to shop at Macy's or Bergdorf Goodman. "Most New Yorkers don't even know Lord & Taylor's exact cross streets," says Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at trend-tracking firm NPD Group Inc.Clamoring for spaceNRDC could make a lot of money by redeveloping the Fifth Avenue site and setting aside retail space for lease. Scads of retailers are begging to pay sky-high rents to gain a foothold in Manhattan. Top Shop, a U.K.-based department store, and Neiman Marcus are both rumored to be looking for space in the city. Regardless of what happens to the Lord & Taylor flagship, estimated to be worth at least $300 million, NRDC plans to spend a lot of money marketing the chain, expanding into new locations and sprucing up existing stores. "We bought the company because we're big supporters of the brand," Mr. Baker says. "We're very excited about the future." Comments?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New Store on G.S.' Radar - pa: personal affairs

This weekend I travelled up to the great white north: The Upper East Side. I was on a quest for a designer outlet that I used to stumble upon, but instead I came across a great new find -- a small store called pa (personal affairs) on E. 80th St. There's also a downtown location on E. 7th St. that I haven't visted yet.

A very comfortable setting and a friendly, encouraging saleswoman creates a stellar shopping experience. The clothing designs are structured, yet feminine; wearable, but fashion-forward. I especially loved the jackets and coats: fall and winter; wool and quilted; black, brown and khaki. Unfortunately, they didn't have my size in the things I liked best. However, by the time I came home, the saleswoman had already called their downtown store and left me a message letting me know what sizes were available there. This is not only "old-fashioned" service, it's just plain old good business!

Additionally, a sales rack featured some fun purple and reddish cords for just $35 a pair! They didn't fit me properly either - I think my body type falls in some "in-between" size - but I will certainly make a trip back soon. Good service + fun clothes + sale rack = a G.S. recommended shopping stop.

Aside: I also ventured into a couple of resale shops that featured top designers such as Gucci and Chanel. I do not recommend these shops for anyone truly seeking a bargain, nor anyone trying to avoid major salesperson attitude, but I found myself particularly taken with the jewelry in Tamaras on E. 81st St.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Les Nanas Rules! Pt. 2

Les Nanas (my secret favorite store) strikes again. I got both the "Best Sweater Ever," and the "baddest sweater dress" there this season. I haven't worn the Best Sweater Ever yet, because I am considering framing it and hanging it over my couch. It really shouldn't be touched by human hands.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Marc Jacobs: all over DSW

Attention all shoppers! I visited DSW in Union Square last weekend and was surprised by the vast Marc Jacobs selection - both shoes and boots. There is a lot to choose from and his style certainly makes him a stand-out among most other designers. In fact, I spied the perfect pair of grey pumps to match the suit I bought a few months ago. However, while the shoes were about 42% off retail, the G.S. is still not prepared to spend $400 on a pair of shoes...But for you gals who have that kind of cash, or feel your money is weighing you down, I suggest taking a trip.

AND! Because you are such a loyal reader, I have a little secret for you:
Go up, a few floors higher to the Filene's Basement shoe department, and you'll find some of the same shoes that you saw in DSW. The prices seem to be pretty much congruent, but if you can't find your size in have options just a couple floors away. Including the grey Marc Jacobs pumps that I can't afford!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

IAN's - Not Your Mother's Store

Remember my 8th grade graduation photo from a few posts ago (see Betsey Johnson)? Well, I continued to out-do myself year after year -- my mother was so pleased (secretly she really was, though).

So for my Senior Prom I thought I'd raise the bar - about seven feet - and get a dress at Ian's on 2nd Ave. near 60th St., not to be outdone by its St. Mark's locale. For those of you not versed in the ways of Ian's...well, it hasn't changed much over the years, it's still catering to the punk-rock-metal-dominatrix-fetish set. And I swear, as a naive 18 year old from the 'burbs, I didn't really get the implications of this stuff, I just thought it would look cool in a motorcycle chick/"Wendy & Lisa" kind of way. So I topped off the black cotton spandex mini-dress with a leather motorcycle cap that I found on Bleecker Street, back when Bleecker was chock full o' head shops. Ah...memories. Anyway, to make sure it was a suitable "outfit," my dear mother found gold piping matching the dress, and trimmed the hat with it. I am laughing out loud thinking about this now - I guess she figured, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Also, I am wearing black high-heeled Kenneth Cole shoes with a faint paisley imprint that I believe I picked up at Marty's. Does this place still exist? (The answer is yes, I found its website, but the inventory looks pitiful.)

So you might look at this photo and think - as others have - "Oh my. That poor, sweet, innocent boy must have been so overwhelmed." Yeah, well, hold your tears for someone else because Mr. Altar Boy is an international rock star/the front man of Dog Eat Dog, currently touring Europe. Lesson: Don't judge a rock star by its tuxedo.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Old Navy - Flip Flops & Tank Tops

Old Navy is good for flip flops and tank tops. I can't get enough of either -- so many colors and styles for a great price. And I really do enjoy going to the store on 6th Avenue in Chelsea - it's like a giant supermarket with clothes and stuff where the produce should be.

I WANT Old Navy clothes to fit me. It would be GRAND if I could create a mini-wardrobe, because the prices are so on target (pun intended). However, I can't seem to get this stuff to work for me. If the waist fits the hips are huge. If the size is right and it's on special sale, I can't get it over my knees. And what happened to their hilarious commercials? After this rant I guess I can assume that they won't be contacting me to replace Morgan Fairchild.

But wait! They also have great kitschy items near check out, including sunglasses, beach towels, necklaces, zany wrapping paper and more. It's just the actual clothes that I take issue with.

Most of all, I hope you, the lucky reader, enjoys a photo of worn flip flops. Artistic though, right? RIGHT?!