Monday, August 24, 2009

MCO a.k.a Macy's Close Out

Now I have lived in Orlando since back in the very late..., well let's just say it's been a long time. Orlando never had any actual high end stores. The one Burdine's in the Altamonte Springs Mall was a level 3, and that meant they had a Gucci counter. Trust me I know this because I bought my first Gucci credit card holder there. I I felt swell. I would visit this counter often. So besides that one Burdine's we had nothing. No Macy's, no Saks, no Tiffany, no Cartier. I know what you are thinking, "How could you live there and possibly survive?" Believe me it wasn't easy. Lucky for me I always did a lot of traveling and then my friend Joe moved to S. Florida and they have all those stores. I would visit Joe often on weekends and I would see those trips not just for the bars, the boozing and the boys, but also as major shopping expeditions. I would buy just about anything and haul it back to Orlando.

So Orlando had this one run down shopping center with some big cheap store that closed, Fields or Kmart or something. Don't ask me I never shopped there. It was rumored that a Macy's was going to take over the place and use it to sell off the merchandise they could not sell in their Federated store chain (which also included Burdine's, Saks, etc., but you probably knew that). But, Macy's didn't want to call it Macy's. Apparently there had been studies done and Orlando was not good enough on their surveys of how many highly educated and well paid people we had living here to actually deserve a Macy's. Really? Well we have them now and all the other swells, but that is another story. So back to the point. They really did lease that space and they called it MCO. MCO are the call letters for Orlando International Airport, and it stood for Macy's Close Out.

Ring, ring, (it's fat Michael, not a judgement but we had a thin one too). "Girl have you heard?"
"What," I said.

"Macy's has opened up that store behind the Kentucky Fried Chicked. Get in your car and get down here I have been here for over and hour and you will not believe it."

I told him that was not possible, the paper said they were not open for 3 more days. He told me they were staffed and ready so they did a soft opening and they have already been open for 2 days. Why does no one call me on day one? Plus why did it take him an hour to call me? I had only about an hour left until closing time.

The store was bare bones, just lots and lots of racks of clothing. But really nice stuff. Stuff you would never find at the level 3 Burdines, which by the way had been downgraded to a level 2 long ago. They took away my Gucci counter too. But this close out place was amazing. They didn't even have shopping carts and they needed them. People were issued black garbage bags and you just pulled it around the aisles with you picking out clothes and stuffing them in your bag. If you had the time then changing booths with curtains were along the back wall, unisex.

I loved that place. I bought a mountain of clothing that first night and I didn't even pay $200. All of the original tags were on the items and you could see all the previous markdowns. When I got to the register they were another 40% off. OH MY GOD! Had I known, if only I had more time, the store is closing. Not to worry I went back at least twice that week and stuff was coming in every day.

Okay so that it the back story. Here is the real story. This place opened up right around the time the Firestone was opening and becoming the hottest place in town and maybe dare I say, FL. Yeah that's right ask anyone who was there. Orlando had arrived. We didn't have any major great department stores but we did and do have every "outlet" you could imagine. So when we needed ideas or inspirations for costumes or outfits to wear out Clubbing on a Saturday night we needed to look no further than the MCO. We would often go in groups and scour each aisle for inspiration.

Now the Glamour Boys were mostly of the going to the gym 3-5 times a week or more types and so they were mostly pretty buff, and in their own minds masculine. But I am the showman and I was never going to be buff or keep up with them in that arena, but I do know how to make an entrance in a costume. One of my best kept secrets is that a hot masculine man wearing something so contradictory not only gets attention, but it holds your attention. So I would dress them up in something a bit girly and the men would be all over them like a pack of wolves on a fresh kill.

Enter the Red Skirt. I believe it was Don, Darren, Tony and I who were at the MCO one afternoon and browsing in the girls section when I let out a scream. There was red pleated skirt on the rack. It was perfectly pleated all around and had an elastic waistband. The big news was that it was made of a very transparent chiffon. Fabulous does not begin to describe it. Plus there were a lot of them. That was key, success is in numbers. They were also very cheap in price but not in quality. Now what girl in her right mind would wear a sheer skirt? I mean this was the stuff you see on the runway shows on TV that you say to yourself, "No one is ever going to wear that in public!"

You know we went out in our underwear a lot, so I thought the skirt would be perfect over black Calvin Klein boxer briefs and white shirts or no shirts and of course our combat boots. Combat boots were the only shoe item on the menu in those days, if you didn't want to look like an idiot. I told everyone to get the smallest size they could squeeze into and call the other Glamour Boys and give them the news and tell them to get down here and buys theirs post haste.

Craig wanted to throw the cocktail party at his house. The boys showed up in force. It was one of our own record breaking nights. Not only did all the Glamour Boys WANT to wear the skirts, but they even convinced some of their friends to do it too. MCO ran out and we had a few boys wearing pink sheer skirts, they were close enough to get the idea across.

Everyone wanted to be us, no matter the cost or possible personal embarrassment. Craig found some garage sail stick on spots in white. I snatched them up and proceeded with the envious task of sticking them on the boys packages as the white on top of the black Calvins really showed up great. I will admit that the bigger their package, the more time I spent applying spots. Tim got a coverall effect, others just got a peace sign or a small arrow.

We arrived to the Club to much fanfare and caused such a stir. I don't know how many of them picked up that night, but pictures of us made the local and FL rags again and we all had a blast. The moment I remember the most was one guy telling a few of us that, "Wow you guys really did it this time. You will never be able to top this."

Really? I love a challenge and that almost seemed like a dare. You just wait. Back to MCO for next weeks inspiration.

Tip: click on the photos and they get bigger.

Stay tuned for Prisoners of Fashion...

You won't want to miss it!