Old friends, cool city, bargain shopping

Four female friends celebrating 40 years of friendship.
So, what should we do?

Meet in New York City for four days of fun and shopping, of course.
Which is how our quartet, who met as freshmen at Michigan State University in 1967, signed on for something called Elegant Tightwad Shopping Excursions, which offers various NYC barganista buying treks.

We picked the four-hour guided shopping spree through the Garment District, which took us to private showrooms offering mostly delightful duds at wholesale prices or less.
The tour is the brainstorm of Pamela Parisi, who tolled 20-plus years in the fashion trade before launching her shopping biz theeleganttightwad.com. When signing up, for this shop-o-rama, you complete a questionnaire that gives Parisi an idea of your taste and price range. She tries to match that with the 30 or so showrooms on her list.

One of Parisi’s minions led our trek, which covered about a half-dozen showrooms. The price: $90 per person. (For a limited time, the price is $75. Group sizes range from six to 15.)
We blitzed through endless racks of tops, jackets, sweaters, skirts, pants and leather coats. Prices: from $10 T-shirts to $12,000 leather coats.

You’ll have more selection if you’re closer to a size 4 than a 14. (At one stop, a box of headbands was among the offerings. “At least I know they’ll fit,” someone quipped.)
Our foursome had its share of good buys. One, who lives in frigid Minnesota, snagged a fabulous black shearling coat for $1,200. And the owner shortened the sleeves on the spot. Another, who calls Austin, Texas, home, found a 100 percent cotton, beautifully tailored blouse for $45.
A minor fashion disaster: One showroom gave us snotty Big City attitude. And much of their merchandise was off-limits. Instead, someone rolled out a rack of stuff that looked neither current nor cute. It was like being offered gruel when filet mignon was all round you.

But that nasty taste of the Big Apple didn’t diminish our appetite for shopping - or fun.
We giggled our way through the buying bonanza — and other NYC adventures — as if we were 18 again.

Four women. Forty years of friendship. A million laughs.
I think 90 bucks was a bargain.

-- Liz Doup