On May 17, I met up with a great group of creatives for a speakeasy tour. Although I was delayed on a slow moving subway train, (trying to meet up at 10AM) my wonderful touring partner, Cindy, took charge and led the group to the first store. Thanks a million, Cindy!
This tour was pretty different from the others, for several reasons:
It was a Saturday. And wow, what a Saturday it was! Beautiful weather, calm, peaceful streets and stores, and a more laid-back energy in the district than the weekday traffic usually allows. Before our tour, I had asked the participants specifically what types of things they hoped to find, and curated the selected stores to match their tastes. I also tweaked the stores we visited, according to their interest level as we moved along, and it really enhanced the experience.
From creative art quilts, to art-to-wear and funky fabric lovers, to purse-making, to generalists, to natural fiber lovers, we had a healthy range of interests! And... I must say... I admire anyone who knows she needs to bring along an empty suitcase with wheels!
What did we see that excited/delighted us?
I'm not giving you the specific store names here... after all, that's why we call it a "Speakeasy", for goodness sake...
Feel free to guess which stores I'm referring to. I will neither confirm nor deny your guesses, but it could be fun!
Store #1 - HUGE, and had great printed cottons, stretch knits, really fun woolens, lovely silk prints, cut- and-sew knits, and a beautiful rack of really amazing specialty fabrics. They also gave each member of our group a gift - which I know we will ALL use.
Store #2 - A gorgeous display of printed cottons, wonderful fabric suitable for making silk ties, some really great, bold laces, unusual velvets, a collection of woolen fabrics TO DIE FOR, and a wool print (can I call it that?) that three of us loved desperately. There was only a small quantity left... but the three of us swooned. I mean, SWOONED... Also, if you wanna make great pants, you want the twills, linens or wool sateens they've got. I've used and loved them all. I've made pants that still look great, a decade later because the fabric is so awesome.
Store 2.5 - Lots of pretty silks, mainly. A store with a "foreign" feeling - an whim of a stop on our way somewhere else...
Store #3 - Designer closeouts. That is a strong hint, if you can guess. Prices were great, we all saw things we loved, and I fell in love with a crinkle chiffon in what I like to call a non-color. Lost somewhere between beige and pink, it was just so lovely.
Then we ate. Great conversation, great meal! That place isn't so much of a speakeasy secret. In my opinion, just the best place to have great food and rest your tootsies with a group in the garment district. You can probably guess this one on your own. Amazing corned beef sandwich and Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda... can't beat it!
Store #4 - Based on lunch conversation, we knew we needed to go to this place. A home dec search for one of our group made this stop important. Everyone found reasons to "oooh" and "ahhh" in this store, whether they meant to, or not! I was hyperventilating over a fabric I saw rolled out on a table for another customer, ran over, and demanded to check price and fiber content. Yes, just like a crazy woman. It will take everything in me to shake off that experience, and not head back into the district until I can breathe normally again. I am "grounded" until I complete the projects on my burner right now.
Stores 5, 6, 7 - All a bit of a blur now, although many more things were purchased. One store in particular required me to give a brief lesson before entering on "the art of the haggle". I advised them which store staff would try to charge the highest price they think they can get, but are actually willing to go much lower. I know... from experience. We got tangled up in stores so packed with inventory, we had to take breaks for fresh air (no, I'm not kidding), we saw really fun laser cut leather remnants, and things with feathers, interesting textures, great colors...
Everyone was sufficiently pooped when we ended at about 4 PM. We ran long (because we were having fun!), and I just told people to let me know when they were too tired to go on. The group dwindled down a bit, leaving a proud few of us by the end! As for myself, I took a "nap" soon after arriving home (interrupted only by a quick dinner), that ended on Sunday morning!
I also gave group members with more time to spend in New York, details on finding the other fabrics and services they needed from the vendors who are open on weekdays.
Wanna get in on a future Speakeasy? Click through to this page to stay updated on future Speakeasy events, or to simply request a speakeasy map with store descriptions, locations, what to say, and important merchandise details.