handbag wall

Island Imports Warehouse Sale

handbag wall

Twice a year, smart shoppers from near and far flock to Hawthorne, N.Y. The Warehouse Sale at Island Imports is legendary. Only open to the public for two long weekends (excluding Sundays) in both April and October, it’s not exactly a secret, but most people learn about it from a friend, as I did. For over fifteen years, this has been the place to go to stock up on jewelry, scarves, and handbags. Incidentally, the latter two are marketed as the Christian Livingston Collection.

As soon as you walk in, grab a basket; you’re going to need it. There are literally walls of merchandise, and a whole room filled with pocketbooks. My first purchase was a roomy copper bag for $20; I was delighted, because I can never find this color in the stores. The handbags range in price from $5 to $25. They’re beautifully constructed, with pockets for cell phones and the like, and even an outside zippered compartment. Don’t miss the Navaho looking bags, which are actually Dhurrie.

In our family, we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukah, so I’m always shopping for presents. You can’t go wrong with the jewelry on sale here. There’s a wall full of earrings, from $5 to $10; Necklaces go for $8 each, or two for $15. Pretty little mother-of-pearl rings are $5.  A colorful rack of chunky bracelets boasts a price tag of $5 each. Scarves go for as little as $5, too.

If these prices aren’t enough of a bargain, check out the back room. I found gorgeous hand blown glass earrings, which are sold in the Smithsonian; here, they’re going for two for $5. I bought a bunch for stocking stuffers.

At the other end of the spectrum are the silver bracelets; they’re absolutely beautiful and sell for $20 to $50. Very elegant. I first saw the jewelry pieces at Coldwater Creek. The goods from this complex are sold through Garnet Hill, Potpourri, and Soft Surroundings. They’re made all over the world, including Bali, India, and Turkey.

This means that designer/ owner Harry Haslett is always on the go. Haslett is a tall, gentle man who sports horned rim glasses and one small gold hoop earring. The respect he feels for his craftsmen and staff is evident, and his love for sports is equally great. Haslett’s wife and kids are also athletic, and by now, they’re used to his extensive traveling. For the past twenty-five years, Haslett has been “Inspired by Ethnic work; I like to roll with what’s going on in the world. I get to Paris twice a year, too. We have a new line out in the stores every six months, so there’s just no stopping. There are always new materials.” He graciously showed us some photos of Bali on his phone- surfing is a major passion- and then went back to work at his desk, perching on a huge gym ball as easily as most of us sit on an easy chair.

Harry Haslett’s whole family is involved, which adds to the friendly feeling in the place. Mom Henrietta Porter assures me they all get along well; she was just about to drive home a regular customer who is now over ninety. Sister Cynthia Hankin, who has boundless energy, seemed to be everywhere at once, refilling stock and answering questions. And that’s just the beginning of the clan support group.

One of my favorite aspects of this sale is that even though it can get crazy crowded, there’s always a feeling of female camaraderie in the air. The men who are brave enough to venture in are treated well, but basically, there are rooms full of women, none of whom seem to hold back on commenting “You look great in that color!” or “Where did you find that bag?” On top of everything else, while supplies last, you get a free gift on the way out. One caveat: wear comfortable shoes, and do not wear a lot of jewelry, since you’ll want to try things on.

I love this sale, and I gladly work my schedule around going to shop for great deals. And even though I’ve already hit it and hit it hard for this round, in the words of you-know-who, “I’ll be back!”

Island Imports Warehouse Sale,
5 West Cross St., Hawthorne, NY 10532 (Route 141 off 9A; go past the Post Office)
800-388-9711; e-mail: islandimports@yahoo.com; www.shopICL.com on Facebook

Please note: prices are subject to change
Thursday, October 18th and Friday, October 19th, 9am to 7pm
Saturday, October 20th, 9am to5pm
Thursday, October 25th and Friday, October 26th, 9am to 7pm
Saturday, October 27th, 9am to 3pm

Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist, with a black belt in shopping. Michall and her husband, photographer John Warner, enjoy chronicling their adventures together in her words and his images. Michall writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. www.michalljeffers.com

Photo credit: John Warner

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