Postcard from... New York


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The Independent Online

Fighting through the flow of daily commuters arriving in New York City’s Port Authority bus station, a mass of tourists make their way to the third floor of the giant terminal. Some have small handbags filled with cash and cards; others carry giant empty suitcases. They snake through to gate 310 to take the bus to Woodbury Common, one of the world’s biggest outlet malls, selling masses of discount designer brands.

French, Spanish, Dutch, German, British, Chinese, Indian – hundreds of nations are represented in the quest for cheap labels. After an hour’s journey along the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 17, past endless motels or giant roadside retailers, the bus arrives and deposits the bargain hunters.

As the guests alight, the bus driver shouts out: “Remember ladies, your husband is the cash machine. Single ladies, don’t worry – we have ATMs.”

Girls from China and Japan flock to handbag stores displaying giant logos like Michael Kors and Coach. A family from India make a beeline to Ralph Lauren and fill a huge suitcase with childrens’ clothes. The British tourists pile in to Tory Birch and Tommy Hilfiger and the fashion savvy with plenty of money check out Balenciaga and Oscar de la Renta. The amount generated in sales tax swells Orange County’s coffers.

After scouring more than 220 stores, the jaded visitors trail back to the coach, with one question in mind. And it’s not: “Why did we spend a day of our holiday at a mall rather than taking in the many other sites of the Big Apple?” No, the question is: “How will we get all this stuff on to the flight home?”