Thursday, June 29, 2017

Whew! Spilling the details on the "Speakeasy" tour...

Reposting (from 9/29/12) - for those of you who don't know what the Speakeasy idea is/was, and what I would love to duplicate, if there is enough interest!

Now that the tour is over, and I've had a good sleep, lemme tell you all about it! This was the first Speakeasy tour I've done, and since no two will be exactly the same, I can dish here without spoiling it for those who will come in the future. Our tour was scheduled to meet at 10 AM at the "Big Button", and I arrived quite early. The rain was TORRENTIAL when I got there, so I ducked beneath a shelter for a time, and reemerged when the rain lightened to a steady drizzle. Cindy (my great tour guide partner) and I met the participants as they arrived, just when the sky ABSOLUTELY OPENED UP.

I'm not sure when I've seen it rain so hard.

I briefly wondered if one could build an ark of canvas and boning, since I do know where to get that...

Thankfully, we were all dressed for the occasion, and they were all really good sports about the relentless downpour. We quickly scrambled off to our first destinations.

Because these were smaller stores, Cindy took half of the group to C&J Textiles, while I took the other half to Metro Textiles. Cindy's part of the group absolutely RAVAGED the $6 sale rack. Yes, I said $6. Really, I did say $6. Why do you keep asking me that? (That's why I call it a "Speakeasy"... see?) And good luck going there now. They practically cleaned it out. No, I'm not kidding. When its gone, its gone, until they restock it. You would have had to see it with your own eyes. At Metro, Kashi was, as always, an incredibly gracious host, whose selection is just overwhelming. While there, a serendipitous visit from George of International Pleating, holding THE MOST MAGICAL pleated fabric you ever did see, allowed me the opportunity to introduce him to my part of the group. Truly, the way that pleats can give a new personality to such a tame and classic print... We couldn't even imagine what it must have looked like before pleating until Kashi showed it to us in its original state.

Really, you hold up its pleated version, and you dance with it. Just because you have to.

So, when you're in Kashi's place, you just keep looking at his vast selection of fabrics until things jump out at you. I can be easily distracted by shopping for myself, so I promised myself I wouldn't buy a SINGLE thing. However, I do now have a list in my head that I will need to satisfy shortly. Thanks, alot, Kashi... Kashi has three fabrics I MUST have, and will go to pick up this week. Mostly because I can barely sleep without them. That's just true. On another note, you will feel the need to call the place "Kashi's" instead of Metro Textiles after going there. That's just what happens.

Okay, so then I tried to minimize my excitement as the entire group met up at Fabrics and Fabrics (formerly Lace Star). I just wanted to let them get off the elevator, and GASP as it unfolded before them. I'm not even sure why I mention the name Lace Star when I talk about them now, since this version of that store BLOWS what was known as Lace Star away. This place is VAST, and I can assure you, the sale racks will amaze you. But bigger than that, there are AISLES and AISLES of brocades (and plenty of other things, too) in lots and lots of colors. Fabric-selling industry veterans have told me that a wide variety of brocades are amazingly hard to find. They found them, somehow. The antique French laces, the wild, unusual fabrics...

As I walked around, I kept hearing purrs, shouts and "Come look at this!" from corners and aisles all around this store. And the layout of this store is absolutely stellar. The organization and labeling of goods is just so perfect, I don't think it could be improved upon. I am so serious about that. And it just keeps going, and going, and going! Rahman is just a great, welcoming personality, and I know there are other staff members, but I just gravitate to him specifically, because he is always first to smile!

Understandably, people were reluctant to get things shipped home rather than carry them, because it takes away from their fabric budget (and can be pricey, especially for our Hawaiian!), but arms were getting weary!

From there, we moved on to Rosen & Chadick. David, Ellen and the assistants were wonderfully helpful, and the group was astounded by the quality of the goods they carry. The beautiful heavenly beaded net fabric and velvet combo bought by one member of our group nearly brought tears to my eyes. The printed cottons are also just TO DIE for. The silks, oh, and the silk tie fabrics are just glorious! The cotton twills for pants, the UPSTAIRS... oh yes, there's an upstairs... you mean you didn't know? "Speakeasy"... see?

And here's the deal... you see stuff there you won't find in other stores. The pinwale corduroys in particular are so beautiful, and inspire ideas in so many directions. The layout and lighting are awesome, and the wonderful, warm personalities of David and Ellen are even awesomer... yes, that's a word...

So, from there, we took a quick little subway ride to 28th Street on the 1 train, where I discovered that I could not swipe a whole pile of people with a pay-per-ride fare card... and seriously MTA, why not???? After a few people, the machine tells you that you have exceeded your "transfer limit". Why? Someone explain to me what transfers have to do with this? And the absence of subway personnel makes it especially frustrating. Random venting.  I digress.

So, I just bought more fares, and we moved on. No big deal.

Anyway, our next stop was Manhattan Wardrobe Supply, which offers more stuff than you ever knew you needed. We discussed the joys of waxed hand sewing thread, various glues and adhesives, types of elastic, all sorts of bust fixes and fitting solutions, garment shields, shoe concerns, fabric care supplies, and just soooo much more.

That place was a ball, and everyone was about to keel over, so we all rested out tootsies (and other parts) for lunch. It all worked out fine, but for the next trip, I will make sure to plan lunch better! We all ate well, though! Over lunch, we answered all of the "where can I find" questions they had for us, and got feedback on their favorite stores. Surprisingly enough, the favorites were pretty evenly spread out among the group! Everyone said they had an awesome time, and they were really happy they came! I am so glad!

After the tour, I did a follow up with a few of the store owners, and they had some great feedback for us, too! One of the major points I stress on this tour is that this is meant to be a MUTUALLY beneficial trip.  You get access to gorgeous and fun stuff, discounts, bargains, and relationships I already have with vendors.  They get business from people who probably don't otherwise even know they exist.

The folks at Rosen and Chadick thought the groups was really nice, fun, and interesting to talk to! They were pretty amazed at how far some were willing to travel to come on the tour, and so was I!

Side note: I had NO idea you could drive from elsewhere, park your RV at the marina, and save yourself a hotel bill! Makes coming here crazy affordable!

Kashi really enjoyed the group as well, and was happy to have been able to show them fabrics they found exciting! He has such great prints! 

C&J can really look intimidating, but don't be intimidated. Yes, there is a receptionist, but don't feel put off by the feeling of being asked to state your business. They just wanna help you find what you need... and of course, they want your business!

Manhattan Wardrobe Supply is better explored than explained. Also nice people, in a very businesslike environment.

My request to all of you:

After reading this post, when shopping in the Garment District, make sure to tell anyone who will listen, that you came because you saw the business mentioned on the blog. I can't guarantee that it will always help you at the register, if I'm not there with you... but sometimes it will!

In a nutshell,  conversation flowed, I am really happy that the blog is entertaining for so many, and was happy to meet those who hadn't really followed the blog, but were just excited for the real-life opportunity to go on the guided trip! I was especially excited to have learned so much from those who came on the trip, too!

Oh... and... sorry for no pictures... I was having too much fun to think about photo ops! And vain truth be told, I got drenched, and wasn't much of a fashion plate after the rain! Can you say "hot mess"?

25 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great time, despite the torrential downpour! It was also interesting to hear the feedback from the vendors.

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  2. Sounds like fun! Do you think you will be running these tours in the Fall of 2013? I think I may be heading to NYC for some fabric shopping then and would love to sign up for a tour when the time comes.

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    1. I will continue to do it, if successful, and people are enjoying it! I am looking to improve and continue, but I've only done one so far, and need to make sure I am serving all involved, so hopefully, yes!

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  3. Glad you had a good time! Sorry about the wet weather. Where's all the sidewalk scaffolding when you really need it, huh?!

    I also hit Manhattan Wardrobe this past visit. Really neat store. I picked up something I'd never seen elsewhere -- a Velcro cleaning tool. Yea, no more linty Velcro for me! :)

    Did you know that they have someone @ MWS who does repairs & alterations on knitted items? At least that's what I think I was overhearing. (Possible blog interview someday?)

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    1. You would have had fun, but at least you can live it vicariously through the blog now!

      A Velcro cleaning tool... man, that's specific! Glad you found something useful there! If this is a service THE STORE provides, I would blog it, but if it is a side business/interest (overheard) for someone who works there, I wouldn't likely promote it, and they probably wouldn't want me to, either! Thanks for the tip, though!

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  4. I got the impression that there is a woman in their employ who does this at the store. She was the one talking to the clients that day, at the front desk. In the half hour or so that I was in the store, two people came in with knit repairs & alterations that needed to be done -- a sweater dress, and a sweater. The (male) staff members @ the desk got in on the repair plan discussion with the sweater client, giving him advice about what they thought would look OK and what would not. So this service might at least be worth asking about?

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    1. Oh, in that case, sure! I thought you overheard a conversation people were having person to person, not client to store! That makes sense, then!

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    2. Found the info on the web! http://www.wardrobesupplies.com/blog/?p=1255 I'll post it on the review post, so others can see...

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  5. Now I'm not sure who or what I stumbled upon that day. I thought the woman I saw/heard was older than the one in that article. But she sure spoke as if she did those kinds of repairs there all the time. So we have a MWS mystery to unravel (yarn pun?), and if anyone can, you can! :)

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    1. Haha! I'll ask next time I'm there. Thanks for the info!

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  6. So glad you spilled the dirt! I'll be in NYC in three weeks and leaving before the next tour. So, I'll be using the blog as my tour guide. (any advice on shopping for skating costumes: stretch fabrics and bling bling bling!)

    I'll definitely tell the folks I visit "Shop the Garment District sent me!"

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    1. and Joyce Trimming, which also has a website http://www.ejoyce.com/

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    2. Thanks! Putting it on my list!

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  7. Spandex House, where I once bumPed into Oksana (however you spell her last name) and her costume person is a good bet. Because it is just so vast, some people prefer the smaller space of Spandex World, just down the block. Bling can be found in many places. M&J is a good place to go, but there are many others!

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  8. Oh Mimi!
    What a delightful read! I`m mid-continent, just north of the 49th parallel and want to ONE day shop the garment district of NY! Thank you for transporting me there!

    Brenda

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  9. I can't ever keep those Stretch - Spandex - House - World stores straight. Had to go to all of them once to swatch for a designer friend & it was very confusing. I do remember one of them had autographed pictures of famous skaters on the stairway wall.

    For bright shiny bling, I'd think of Hai Trim (200 block of 38th - back of store has lots of bling), Trims de Carnival (other end of 38th, near 5th), and maybe B&Q/Shine Trim (B&Q at 102 and 210 38th, and Shine on 2nd floor of 228 39th). All have websites.

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    1. awesome! Trims de Carnival just sounds awesome!

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  10. Thanks, Quilt B! Not all bling is created equal, and skaters do have special considerations when it comes to quality, ease of application to a costume, snaggability, lighting, etc., but good to know of more places!

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    1. Thought I'd throw some names out there -- not sure if she wanted budget bling for a beginner's outfit, or something more on Oksana's level. :)

      Speaking of bling, I'm reviewing my notes & had jotted that iTrim on 38th had closed sometime in the last year. They still show up on the print-out you can get from the Big Button kiosk, but the storefront is empty. :(

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  11. QUESTION: is there a good place in the district to buy patterns, Mimi?

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    1. Not really, although some stores have them. Paron Fabrics (257 West 39th) does have them, but your won't find any place in the garment district offering the full spectrum, neatly organized, with books on comfortable counters for your perusal... You can find them on the web if you're willing to wait, go to one of the big chains, or one of the outer borough stores that serve more home sewers.

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  12. Thanks, Mimi. I have time; the web it is! BTW, went back to Chadick & Rosen's to pick up another yard of shirting fabric I bought on the tour. David was so welcoming and accommodating. He asked if we all liked his store; I replied YESSS!

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