Buying a Coat Without Losing Your Shirt

Okay, okay, we know what you’re thinking. Outside, it’s 80 degrees in the shade. So why are these jokers talking to me about winter coats?

Ah, but behind every madness there is a method. It’s precisely because winter around here starts December 21 and may end December 22 that we’ve tried to dig up some great bargains on winter outerwear for you. Look at it this way: In New York or Seattle, you don’t mind laying out big money for overcoats, heavy boots and such because you know you’re going to use them. But here in the semi-tropics, where it might be spring before you figure out which closet your overcoat is in, you kind of want to get by for as little as you can.

And you can, if you’re willing to do a little leg work and to endure a few idiosyncrasies of the bargain underground.

First and foremost, when shopping underground, don’t expect to be overwhelmed by posh atmosphere or catered to by overly attentive service. Most of these shops are, let us say, rustic in their ambience and many are completely self-service. Take along a measuring tape because some shops will not permit trying on. Also take cash, since many of these stores appear never to have heard of credit cards. And be sure to check operating hours and days, since they vary from shop to shop and some are irregular.

You’ll find good bargains on winter outerwear from three basic sources: sample shops, where original samples of a line are sold, factory outlets, and wholesalers, who sell directly to the public. To get you started, we recommended a few of our favorites:

Far East Trading Corporation

2006 Farrington, Dallas


Weekdays, 9-5

For men who have a size problem or who have always wanted a custom made leather or suede coat, we feel that $65 is hard to beat. At Far East Trading Corporation, you can order custom-made (in Hong Kong) or choose from the stock of imitation leather jackets at only $14. There is also a full line of suits, sport coats, shirts and, our favorite gift item, turtleneck sweaters (polyester and acrylics) for $6.

Checks, American Express, Bank-Americard, Diners and Master Charge.

The Fur Factory

9982 Monroe, Dallas


Weekdays, 7:30-5;

Saturday, 7:30-Noon

This is the real thing-a fur factory. However, you can buy from their sample line (mainly sizes 8 and 10) at wholesale prices. It includes sport and dress furs in mink, broadtail, beaver, lamb and fox. Some of the fur and leather combinations were especially good looking. If you want something custom made or re-styled, they can do that, too.

Checks accepted.

Jere G’s

901 Jackson, Dallas


Friday, 9-4;

Saturday, 8:30-12:30

Jere G’s, wholesaler of moderately priced apparel for men and women, opens the doors to bargain hunters one and a half days each week. We recommend this company for sweaters and jackets. For instance, short suede jackets are priced at $21.75 and leather coats range from $49.75 to $89.75, with many of the latter pre-tagged to retail between $99 and $175 (sizes 36R to 48L). They also carry ladies’ sweaters, coats and jackets, all at wholesale prices. No try-ons, except men’s coats.

Checks, BankAmericard and Master Charge.

Cy Arnold’s Fabric Barrel 4126 Lemmon, Dallas 521-9271 Monday thru Saturday, 9 – 6

We usually check this shop before we purchase our winter coats. Although the sample lines vary from year to year, the selection (women’s sizes 5-12) is quite different. A last minute look shows that you will be able to choose from the Rain-cheetahs, Jerrold and 77 Original lines. Expect to save from one-third to one-half of the suggested retail price.

Checks and Master Charge.

Outlet Store

601 Marion, Garland


Monday thru Saturday, 9 – 6

Byer-Rolnick’s outlet store is hidden away behind its factory in Garland. This is the place to put together a great cowboy look at great savings – from Byer-Rolnick hats to Nocona boots. At this time of year, one of the best buys is leather-look walking coats at $65. Also, a full line of men’s sweaters.

Checks, BankAmericard and Master Charge.

Ladylike Shop

203 N. Ballard, Wylie


Monday thru Saturday, 9:30-6;

Thursday, 9:30-8

Before you tackle the slopes this winter, plan a trip to this bargain paradise. Behind the unimaginative storefront facade are 50% savings on first quality White Stag skiwear for the entire family. Ski pants, sweaters, warm-up pants, parkas, one-piece ski suits, overalls, gloves and hats. Sizes range from 3 to 14 for children, 8-16 for women, and 28-42 for men. Also a line of ladies’ sport coats and jackets and designer children’s coats (infants to T4 sizes).

Checks, BankAmericard and Master Charge.

Asbury Company

1330 Motor Circle, Dallas


Monday thru Friday, 9-5

Here is a wholesale accessory warehouse that cheerfully sells to the public. Fabulous fake and fun furs, knitted hats (many with matching scarves), purses, shrinks, gloves, sweaters, capes and shawls. Plan to spend some time here as every nook and cranny is loaded with boxes and tables for the shopper to search.

Checks accepted.

Ronelle 166 Express St., Dallas 742-8207

Monday thru Friday, 9:30 – 4

Great factory outlet shopping here. Browse through the stock area for pant coats, car coats, even fake fur cloaks in a variety of colors, fabrics and styles. Prices range from $22.75 to $30.75. Sizes 6-16 for women only.

Grace’s Coat and Dress Shop E. Ovilla Exit, IH35, Red Oak 223-4818

Monday thru Friday, 9-8; Saturday, 9 – 7

Just outside the southwest Dallas County line stands the big red barn known as Grace’s Coat and Dress Shop. It carries R&K, Butte Knits, and Jonathan Logan at about one-third off. In addition, the selection of women’s coats is outstanding. You’ll find labels like Davis (a division of Jonathan Logan), Forecaster, Hollis, Youthcraft and Country Pacer. The price range for coats is $21 to $119.99, the most expensive being camel hair and cashmere. We think the $30 suede jackets are the best buy. Womens’ sizes 6-20.

Checks, BankAmericard and Master Charge.

The Peanut Factory

8132 Spring Valley Road, Dallas 234-6171

Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 – 5

Be there first at this brand new children’s super sample shop. At last, a shop catering mainly to boys and carrying a large selection of better outerwear in sizes 4-18. We purchased ski-type parkas, which retail for between $18-$30, for $11.90. The sweaters, in all styles, are also a good buy with the largest selection being in the sample sizes 4 and 7. In addition, they stock a complete line of everything for the junior cowboy, from socks to three-piece suits – and peanuts are always free.

Checks, Master Charge and BankAmericard.

Suede Originals

3005 Elm, Dallas


Monday thru Friday, 9-4

The entrance is not the most plush, but once you make it up the creaky staircase, you won’t care. The sample room, located in the back corner of the B. Altaian coat factory, is loaded with some of the finest suede and leather sport and dress coats available. Prices range from $60 for some of the still current-looking “last year’s styles” to $145 for outerwear that can drape you in the latest fur-lined elegance. These coats retail as high as $290. Men’s coats, too, from $65 to $85.

Checks accepted.

Worthy of note

Dallas Apparel Mart has just ended its Mid-Winter and Holiday-wear Women and Children’s Market (Aug. 16-22). This is the time that the salesmen and some of the showrooms will be interested in unloading their samples. Watch the classified ada closely for the next few weeks under “Miscellaneous” and “Wearing Apparel.” If you’re a lucky size 7 through 10, you have a pretty good chance of being able to pick up a large portion of your wardrobe at a pittance. As an extra bonus, you’ll probably have them on your back before the retail stores have them on their racks.


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