met-clearance-shop-giftsThe first time I stumbled on the Gift Clearance Shop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was delighted to uncover a series of spacious rooms packed with alluring goodies. When I returned for a second visit – poof – the shop had vanished. When I discovered its new location (again accidentally) down a flight of stairs in the Egyptian Collection, the Clearance Shop had shrunk to a shadow of its former self. And then boom – the shop suddenly expanded and gained a more commodious partner two floors above it. So at the moment there are two Clearance Shops in the museum, the bigger one at the rear of the second floor Gift Shop, and the second diminutive one in the basement.

In contrast to all this roving, The museum’s flagship Gift Shop is solidly planted, front and center in the main entrance hall on Fifth Avenue, the better to check out gift possibilities when entering and to purchase those gifts for full price when leaving.

A visitor and super fan for decades, I never even knew the Metropolitan had a Clearance Shop till about eight years ago. Being a member of the International Frugal Fraternity, I was of course overjoyed at uncovering that great bargain paradise overflowing with gifts slashed to half or even less of their original prices. (The red heart pin shown here, originally priced at $125.00 is now going for $31.25). But I was miffed too. How could I not have known about its’ existence in a place where I had spent so many years of my New York life wandering round in a happy haze of art intoxication. How could I have walked around that Clearance Shop, above it, below it and maybe even beside it and never spotted its’ captivating contents? I tried not to think of all the gifts I had purchased in the main floor gift shop, paying top dollars instead of deep clearance sums so dear to my frugal heart.

For me, the main difference between the two Clearance Shops is that only the small one in the basement currently features jewelry modeled on the Met’s unsurpassed art collection. Framed prints are also sold there. This weekend I saw a huge framed Bonnard print I would have been thrilled to own, had I the cash or more importantly, the wall space needed to hang the gigantic thing.

While I didn’t see any framed prints in the second floor Clearance Shop, I did see some distinctive posters of yesteryear fashion models who were stars of the fashion world that paid my rent some distant careers ago.

Both Clearance Shops offer merchandise that’s a mish mash of seasons and various museum exhibits. Between them they’re currently selling snowflake Christmas decorations, CD’s, paint sets, games, picture frames, stationery and stacks of art books, etc. They’re also featuring T-shirts from the Samurai Warrior exhibition, a dazzling show of amazing Samurai helmets with fantastic over the top shapes that hinted of Vegas and Hollywood Extravaganzas.

For directions to these Gift Clearance Shops on the move, check with the front information desk. No matter when you drop in, you’re sure to be tempted by some treasures with fetching tabs.

Some info for New York City visitors: