It’s safe to say that, whatever you want to buy, New York has probably got it. The NYC shopping scene is an eclectic one, with shops and stores open almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not hard to find the big-name chain stores, as these seem to have outlets in every corner of every shopping district. However, if you want your shopping experience to involve independent stores and hard-to-find or unique items, you’ll have to wander off the beaten track. Our guide to the best New York shopping will point you in the right direction, whether you’re after megastores or magical markets.
What you might not know about this superb NYC shopping area is that its name is an acronym, which stands for ‘South of Houston’. With a distinctly arty vibe and cobbled streets, it’s home to several creative fashion brands and flagship stores. One of the major attractions for fashionistas is the Converse Speciality Store, in which customers can design their own trainers. However, SoHo offers a lot more than big-name stores. Wander the atmospheric alleys and beautifully-designed backstreets and you’ll find small, independent shops offering everything from handmade goods and jewellery to specialist food stores and tech shops. Offering a well-rounded New York shopping trip, SoHo is an ideal place to start.
The Meatpacking District
Fans of the TV show, Sex and the City, will find parts of this sublimely-contemporary shopping district instantly recognisable. By day, this is the place to come to buy luxury and designer goods and bespoke items, and when the sun sets it offers some of NYC’s most vibrant nightlife. The By Kilian Boutique store is a prime example; shoppers can mix their own perfumes or aftershaves and the shop has its own range of scented candles, air fresheners and reed diffusers.
The Meatpacking District is also the place to find upmarket-yet-unique products. Pop into Nesh NYC for a superb selection of yoga-wear and cashmere goods. To add to your new-found ensemble, why not set it off with some designer jewellery from Efva Attling? While it’s definitely one of the most exciting NYC shopping areas, the Meatpacking District is definitely not for those shopping on a budget.
Upper East Side
Home to Lexington Avenue and with bags of New York charm, the Upper East Side is a grid of shops, malls and diners. This is where you’ll find Bloomingdale’s, one of America’s most iconic retailers. Live like a celebrity for a day and enjoy a VIP NYC shopping experience, as you hire a personal stylist to shop with you. Even if you don’t, shopping in Bloomingdale’s is an adventure in itself; the store is so big that there’s even an app to help you navigate your way around. Don’t forget to grab a bite in one of the onsite restaurants; Forty Carrots is a long-time favourite with locals and visitors. If the idea of losing yourself in a megastore for a day doesn’t appeal, you’ll find Lexington has more than its fair share of shops and stores.
Lower East Side
New York shopping doesn’t have to be about glittering malls and big-name brands. Head to the Lower East Side and you’ll find a shopping district that has attracted up-and-coming designers to set up shop in the area while sustaining vintage shops and boutique, independent retailers. Whether you’re looking for handmade jewellery or vegan shoes, the Lower East Side is where you’re most likely to find it.
It’s also home to the Hester Street Fair, which runs between April and October. Billed as a market for ‘creative entrepreneurs’, you’ll find stalls and pop-up shops selling goods that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. While it’s not a large market, live music and the sizzle of cooking street-food makes it feel like an ongoing carnival.
If you want a break from the usual department stores, factor in some time to visit Chinatown on your NYC shopping break. A multi-sensory experience, you’ll notice the smells of authentic Chinese cuisine, just as you notice the exotic fish and herbs for sale from sidewalk stalls. Head towards the canal and you’ll find more stores and stalls selling cheap goods such as watches, shoes, handbags and sunglasses. While they might not be authentic designer goods, it’s a good place to pick up disposable items.
In Chinatown it’s worth putting your haggling head on; in this part of the Big Apple, it’s almost expected. For authentic Chinese trinkets and mementoes, make your way to Doyer Street, where you’ll find Ting’s Gift Shop. Believed to be one of the oldest establishments in the district, you’ll find some interesting toys and lanterns at reasonable prices.
If you find yourself in Uptown Manhattan, then you should make a beeline for Madison Avenue. Between 57th and 59th Street, you’ll find yourself in the retail hunting ground favoured by A-list celebrities and wealthy New Yorkers. To learn the true meaning of high-end fashion, pop into Barneys New York. Don’t be intimidated by the glitz and glamour these shops present; most are glad to see new faces, even if you’re just browsing or looking for an unexpected bargain.
There are luxury boutiques and stellar brands wherever you turn along this extraordinary retail hotspot. For something unique, the Shanghai Tang store, on Madison Avenue, is the store to explore. While the prices might raise an eyebrow or two, you’re almost guaranteed to re-evaluate your holiday spending budget. After all, you’re only here once.
While Greenwich Village might sound like a small enclave full of quirky, characterful shops, it’s much bigger and bolder than you might think. Incorporating the West Village and the East Village, there are plenty of restaurants and places to grab a quick bite, with more vegetarian establishments than anywhere else in the city. The centre of the district is what the locals tend to know as Greenwich Village. Here, you’ll find cosy bookshops, specialist music stores and antique shops. In addition, this is another area where designers start out in retail, so you can find some excellent, reasonably-priced clothes from names that might just hit the big time, in years to come. With arts and crafts stalls lining the streets, Greenwich Village ought to be high on anyone’s list on a New York shopping expedition.