by: Deborah Dephicit

I bought a Coach bag for ONLY $39 and no it’s not a knock off and no it didn’t “fall off the back of a lorry,” as my friends in England would say. I simply used an economic formula available to women for centuries.

The original retail price of this bag was $268. Now I know what all you naysayers (MEN) are going to say, “That’s a lot of money for a bag.” First of all, as any woman will tell you, a Coach bag is an investment piece. Like a good bra but much more visible. Second it’s not like any of us are going to spend hundreds of dollars to sit outside at some sporting event when we can stay at home and not watch it on TV. So you have your outlandish whims of fancy, we’ll have ours.

So the bag was $268 but I happened to have a coupon good for 40% at the Coach store. Ladies, I can hear your gasps now (and men, your snores?). How did I come to be in possession of such a golden ticket of retail? Well, like I said before, Coach is an investment piece and they stand behind their product. (At those prices they had better!) What happened was I had another Coach bag which developed a slight defect. The nice people at the Coach store sent it to the factory to be fixed (for free, of course, didn’t even have to pay for postage). Sadly, the factory sent me back my bag saying it was unfixable. At first I was mad until I noticed what they tucked inside. The aforementioned 40 percent golden ticket. Good for 40 percent off my next purchase at the Coach store.

Now luckily for me that coupon didn’t have an expiration date on it because it took me a year an a half to be able to afford my “next” trip to Coach. It’s not like I drop in there on the way home from buying my contact lens solution and lotion at Target because they’re one dollar cheaper there.

So, on to the economics. Now Ms. Poure and I are not mathematical geniuses. We couldn’t tell a sine from a cosine even if there were a free venti iced chai involved as a reward. Neither of us will be applying for Mensa candidacy and Dennis Gaitsgory (kinda hunky professor of math at Harvard University), let’s just say your position is intact. (Link to view photo of the hunky Dennis Gaitsgory whom we found on Harvard’s website:)

But there is one area of Mathematics in which we excel – consumer math. Ms. P and I can calculate a markdown in our heads faster than you can say “calculator.” So when I saw the price of my bag I knew right away that with my coupon it would be a little over $100 off, $104 to be precise. (10 percent of 268 is 26. 26 x 4 is an easy 104!). $100 off on a Coach bag? Ladies, are you sweating? I know my heart is pounding!

Now we’re down to $164 (268-104). Not a bad price at all for a brand new Coach bag THAT’S NOT EVEN FROM THE OUTLET STORE. But wait, there’s more.

I also happened to have a $100 gift certificate from Coach! Okay, it didn’t exactly say “Coach Gift Certificate” on it, it said “Paycheck.” I got paid about $100 for a little outside tutoring job I did. I’m sorry but little jobs like that are like found money. As soon as I took on the job I knew that money was going straight into my Coach bag. As one of my colleagues pointed out the check didn’t actually say, “Pay to the Order of The Coach Store” on it. I COULD have used it to pay for something a little more practical. I’m telling you what I told her. “I’m not getting up at 7:00 on a Saturday morning to pay the cable bill!”

Okay so we’re down another hundred, bringing us to $64. Oh yeah. A bargain even if the bag had “fallen off a lorry.” But there was one final knockdown to be had. You see, earlier this fall, before that tutoring job fell into my lap, I had purchased a much less costly bag at a much less prestigious store. The bag was kind of cute. There wasn’t anything really wrong with it except IT WASN’T A COACH BAG. Like a relationship with the wrong guy, it just didn’t feel right. So not right, in fact, that I never even removed the bag from the trunk of my car after buying it. (That’s like not even texting, “We should just be friends.”) So, in comes the tutoring check and out goes the cheap bag back to the discount store. Ka-ching. Another $25 markdown on my Coach. ($25 – I told you it was cheap!)

$64- $25 equals $39. Deal of the century. Hmmmm….Dennis Gaitsgory, I wonder if Harvard is looking for any Econ professors for next semester?

P.S. Coach – please send the endorsement fee to We take gift cards.

Jennifer Poure responds:

I got a Coach bag one time for less than that. I only paid $25! It was a beautiful bag – hobo style! It was black and I used it all the time. To me it went with every outfit and it was the perfect accessory to anything in my wardrobe. One day my friend decided she wanted to borrow it. I was hesitant (no one lends out a bag of that caliber when they only have one) but decided why not share the worth. She was so ecstatic; she was holding heaven on earth. She and I examined it to make sure she returned it in the same condition she found it. Until she started looking closely at the label and rubbed of some kind of mark on the word “Coach”.

It was discovered I actually purchased a “Couch” bag instead. Damn Canal Street vendors! Like a Monet, it looks all pretty from afar but up close just a big ugly mess (don’t you just love the movie Clueless?)!