Moonbliss, I hope you don't mind if I throw in my 2 cents worth.
I only buy authentic Coach bags. I have been to Canal Street in Chinatown, NYC. I have also been invited to "pocketbook parties" many times. It is nearly impossible to distinguish a real Coach from a fake nowadays. The same holds true for Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. There are slight variations in Coach bags, that people producing knock-offs, haven't quite learned to perfect. I can tell a knock- off from a mile away. Usually the leather trim is a give away. And, believe me, they don't hold up. Replicators will even go as far as to put the Coach Serial Number on the inside pocket, so you think it's authentic. Don't be fooled.
The only way, and I do mean, ONLY way to be 100% sure you're getting a true Coach, is to buy from a Coach store or retailer like Macy*s or Nordstrom.
I never pay full price for my Coach bags/wallets. We have Coach outlets here in NY. I googled.... Coach outlet store Illinois... for you and I was able to bring a few outlets up. Not quite sure if they are near you or not. It's worth the drive. I travel an hour to get to ours. I always manage to save a minimum of 50% off of retail. I have gotten some real steals. Another location I have found that has deals are T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. They always have Coach mixed in with the pocketbook aisle. I have been told by the outlet stores that Coach sends items that the they can't sell to these places.
My husband thinks I'm absolutely nuts with the number of Coach bags I have. But, they were all purchased in an outlet.
Men just don't understand women and their purses, I guess.
If you want to private message me with any other questions, feel free. Good luck.