The 's thrift shop kicked off its annual dollar sale Tuesday morning, an event that has become one of the highlights of the winter on the South Fork.
The enthusiasm could be seen fifteen minutes before the doors opened for the week-long sale, when at least a dozen people jumped on a line to have first dibs on men's, women's and children's clothing at and everything from novels to dictionaries at . Almost everything is just $1, with a few exceptions in the men's department.
"It's been on my calendar since last October," said Fran Liburt, who traveled across two ferries from Orient to be one of the first shoppers. She's been coming to the dollar sale for the last two or three years and hasn't been disappointed yet. She said she always finds something she has to have, like an Italian designer coat last year.
From gently worn designer-name dresses to high heel shoes, trendy hats to ice skates, the three rooms are filled to the brim with clothes -- and there's plenty more in the basement to fill the racks. A Calvin Klein black coat, for instance, marked at $60, was one shopper's lucky find for just a buck.
"I had a dream about it -- where I was knocking stuff off the shelves in sweat," said Liburt's friend Joanne DeVoe of Shelter Island. She quickly filled up four large shopping bags of coats, sweaters and skirts. The grand total? $24 and change.
Mo Cohen, the chair of Bargain Box who heads of the women's clothing department, said it is such a popular event, the LVIS doesn't need to do much advertising in advance. "People keep asking, 'When is it?'," she said.
All clothes are donated to the thrift shop to raise money for the organization's endeavors, from plantings to scholarships. The ladies don't just put anything out for sale – it's all carefully inspected. "We're fussy," she said.
A half-off sale the first three weeks in January leads up to a shopper's dream, where price tags of $40, $50, $60 roll down to $1. The dollar sale is meant to clear out the thrift shop's winter inventory to make room on the racks for the spring and summer wares.
The LVIS closes the shop to customers for the month of February, while volunteers busy themselves with bringing the clothing from the basement to the main floor. The shops will re-open March 1.
Cohen also considers it a service to the community. "Look on Main Street at all the stores that are closed and the kind of stores," she said of the high-end retail shops. "What do we have? We've got TJ Maxx and J. Crew ... and we have Bargain Box."
In the first year of the dollar sale, 5 years ago, it started earlier in January. "We had nothing left," Cohen said, so they decided to put off the sale until later in the month to make sure the thrift shop could stay open through until the 31st.
Any item of clothing left after Jan. 31 is donated to the Eastern Farm Workers Association in Bellport for migrant workers, according to Almeda Rickenbach, the vice-chair of Bargain Box.