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November 3, 2005
Deep in the Basement alongside the subway tracks lies the best treasure trove of discount finds in all Boston. The bins on the upper level are filled with newly arrived merchandise that hasn’t even been sorted or put on a hanger. Here is where you find the best things before other fashion divas have had a chance to get their paws on them.
Filene’s Basement is famous for the principle of the "automatic markdown." Merchandise is dated, and as you get progressively past the date of its arrival, it is marked down by the week in increments of 25% until it is donated to charity. Recently I bought a pair of Costume Nationale shoes for 75% off!
The lengths to which some people will go for bargains is best exhibited by the famous "wedding dress" sale held here annually each year. Women come from hundreds of miles away to fight over couture gowns that have been marked down to about $500 from $5000. For many, this is an example of the people that have turned shopping into an athletic sport. Eek!
You can access Filene’s Basement by walking from South Station, or you can take the subway one stop inbound to Downtown Crossing. What better way to kill time caused by a train delay or stopover than scoring a fabulous find at a fraction of the price!
From journal Stopping in Boston (The Amtrak Layover Guide)
Bayside, New York
August 17, 2001
Three levels of bargain merchandise await you by way of women's clothing, lingerie, shoes and perfumes, gourmet foods, leather goods, housewares that are always so damn exquisite, like plates from Portugal or hand painted water carafes.
Yes, there are men's suits, ties, shirts, shoes, fragrances, sportswear, but I spend very little time shopping for men's things here because Chuck gets there before I do; his clothes closet is 4 times the size of mine.
One of the things I recommend you do here is come with lots of patience and carry very little. This is a haunt for bargain hunters, and sometimes you really have to dig deep to find what you want at a drop dead price. I was able to buy a two piece dress suit for the summer for $7.00 (date on the price tag was the one before they donate it to charity). Bras are a great buy and you can recognize the brands regardless of the fact that they clip off the name. The shoe racks are awesome, and if you are shopping near holiday time, you can get some elegant gifts for next to nothing. They do place boxed gifts all over the store, regardless of whether they fit into the department or not. It's a great strategy to get you to look up instead of just down the aisle. Items are priced according to the date they've arrived in the Basement -- the older, the cheaper. I have never been in Boston and missed a trip to Filene's no matter how short in time. If you love a great bargain, or if you just want to browse, go there. By the way, there are no cars allowed in Downtown Crossing during business hours; the streets have police signs that say do not cross. Adding to the bustle of the area are many street cart vendors with t-shirts, jewelry, hats and the like.
From journal Boston Beckons
June 18, 2000
From journal Time Travel in Historic Boston