So there I was, Sunday, around 6:30 in the evening, walking with a friend across 59th Street, enjoying all the New York things you enjoy — the Plaza, for example — and dodging all the things you dodge.
(I normally dodge the horse-drawn carriages, parked around the Plaza, because I’m not all that horsy. But my friend not only is horsy, he actually knew one of the coachmen. Before you could say “Whoa!” we were feeding this very large horse carrots. He’d just come from Pennsylvania — the horse — where he was doing whatever horses do in Pennsylvania, and was now being trained for duty in and around Central Park. Much of the training, apparently, revolves around carrots. You feed the horse 14 or 15 bags of carrots at first — the horse can’t get enough of these things — so that he associates carrots with work and “work is where he wants to be.” Then, once you’ve gotten your point across, the coachman explained, you can economize.)
Anyway, we got a couple blocks further East, and began encountering what in another city might have appeared to be very large crossing guards. As it happened, they were not in the least concerned with pedestrian safety but, rather, were proffering some kind of hand-out.
You see that a lot in the seedier parts of the City — live! nude! — and for a moment it occurred to me that, what with the renaissance of 42nd Street firmly under way, perhaps East 59th Street was becoming the new porn district.
I doubted that, though, and I also felt bad for the hand-out people. After all, they weren’t looking for a hand-out, they were attempting to eke out a living handing things out.
I am not one to waste paper, and yet I am also not one to make a fellow citizen feel worthless. So as my friend passed by, eyes straight forward (not an unwise way to walk the streets of Manhattan, I will admit), I reached out and grabbed one of the fliers and said thanks, fully intending to drop it in the next trash can I saw.
It was a pink half-sheet for Men’s Suits — “Designer Suits at the Lowest Prices” — and I could see my friend begin to roll his eyes. When it comes to clothes, I am known to be a “lowest-prices” kind of guy. Mail-order, mostly. My friend has been trying to wean me away from that, and yet UPS keeps arriving with more bargains.
Anyway, before he could say anything, we had arrived at the address on the flier — 118 East 59th Street — and I was already walking up the stairs. (You don’t get “lowest prices” from a ground-floor establishment. I might not walk a mile for a camel hair coat, but I will surely walk up a flight of stairs to save $400.)
I should say, just before I wind this up, that a young Wall Street friend of mine, who’s also careful with money, spends $1,200 on his suits. And in case you didn’t know, I’m told it’s possible to spend even more — and that successful folks in this neck of the woods frequently do.
The whole thing took 15 minutes — two Fioravanti suits, $224 each. Free same-day alterations. Frequent-flier miles from the credit card.
Of course, you can get suits a lot cheaper than $224. But Bill Blass? Chaps? Fioravanti? Perry Ellis? Ungaro? Christian Dior?
Open seven days a week. “All sizes. Large selection.”
You may want to bargain a little. (I didn’t. I just asked the price. He said: $249, but if you buy two I’ll take 10% off, so I did.) And you may have to ask sweetly to get free alterations. (I didn’t. My suits didn’t need much work, so he volunteered to throw that in.)
I’m not sure the name of the place. It seems to be called just Men’s Suits. Like a food store called, say, “Food.”
I realize you may not be from New York. But who among us will not find himself (or his son or grandson) near the Plaza Hotel in the not too distant future? Let other tourists take their hansom cab rides at $34 for the first 30 minutes and $20 for each 15 minutes thereafter, plus tip. You march right on over and buy yourself a suit!
As I was leaving I produced the pink hand-out that had started all this. “Your guy out there did a good job,” I said.
Monday: Should You Borrow Against Your Mutual Funds?