Not surprisingly for a capital of commercialism, creativity and fashion, New York City is quite simply one of the best shopping destinations on the planet. Every niche is filled. From indie designer-driven boutiques to landmark department stores, thrift shops to haute couture, record stores to the Apple store, street-eats to gourmet groceries, it’s quite easy to blow one's budget.
Flea Markets & Vintage Adventures
As much as New Yorkers gravitate towards all that’s shiny and new, it can be infinitely fun to riffle through unwanted wares and threads. The most popular flea market is the Brooklyn Flea, found in different locations on different days, April through October. Another gem is Artists & Fleas, with scores of vendors. The East Village is the city’s go-to neighborhood for secondhand and vintage stores – the uniform of the unwavering legion of hipsters.
A few stores have cemented their status as NYC legends. This city just wouldn’t quite be the same without them. For label hunters, Century 21 is a Big Apple institution, with wears by D&G, Prada, Marc Jacobs and many others at low prices. Book lovers of the world unite at the Strand, the city’s biggest and best bookseller. Run by Hassidic Jews and employing mechanized whimsy, B&H Photo Video is a mecca for digital and audio geeks. For secondhand clothing, home furnishings and books, good-hearted Housing Works, with many locations around town, is a perennial favorite.
While clothing sales happen year-round – usually when seasons change and old stock must be moved out – sample sales are held frequently, mostly in the huge warehouses in the Fashion District of Midtown or in SoHo. While the original sample sale was a way for designers to get rid of one-of-a-kind prototypes that weren’t quite up to snuff, most sample sales these days are for high-end labels to get rid of overstock at wonderfully deep discounts. For the latest sample sales, check out NY Racked (http://ny.racked.com/sales). Consignment stores are another fine place to look for top (gently used) fashions at reduced prices; label hunters find the Upper East Side prime territory with standouts like Michael's.
An Homage to Luxury
One of the world’s fashion capitals, NYC is ever setting trends for the rest of the country to follow. For checking out the latest designs hitting the streets, it’s worth browsing some of the best-loved boutiques around town – regardless of whether you intend to spend. A few favorites include Opening Ceremony, Issey Miyake, Marc Jacobs, Steven Alan, Rag & Bone, John Varvatos, By Robert James and Piperlime.
If time is limited, or you simply want to browse a plethora of labels in one go, then head to those heady conglomerations known worldwide as department stores. New York has a special blend of alluring draws – in particular don’t miss Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.
When the weekend arrives, Brooklynites are out and about, strolling the stoop sales and hitting the markets. Here are a few good places to unearth something unusual:
- Brooklyn Flea On Sundays from April to November, about a hundred vendors sell their wares inside the massive archway beneath the Manhattan Bridge. You'll find antiques, records, vintage clothes, craft items, jewelry and more, and often some enticing food stalls with tasty treats to boot. (There's a smaller indoor flea market held both Saturday and Sunday, but in SoHo.)
- Artists & Fleas In operation since 2003, this is a popular artists, designers and vintage market in Williamsburg, where you can find an excellent selection of crafty goodness.
- Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Open on Saturdays year-round, this Greenmarket is a good spot to put together an impromptu picnic before heading into Prospect Park.
- Neighborhood Greenmarkets You'll find other year-round Greenmarkets at Brooklyn Borough Hall (Downtown Brooklyn; subway 2/3, 4/5 to Borough Hall) on Tuesdays; Carroll Park (Carroll Gardens; subway F, G to Carroll St) on Sundays; and Fort Greene Park (Fort Greene; subway B, Q/R to DeKalb Ave) on Saturdays. Check www.grownyc.org for other NYC Greenmarkets.
Shopping in Brooklyn
Whatever your preferred flavor of retail therapy, Brooklyn’s got it. Williamsburg and Greenpoint are full of home-design shops, vintage furniture and clothing stores, and indie boutiques, bookstores and record shops. In southern Brooklyn, you’ll find some satisfying browsing (and good consignment) in the vicinity of Boerum and Cobble Hills. Atlantic Ave, running east to west near Brooklyn Heights, is sprinkled with antique stores, while Park Slope features a good selection of laid-back clothing shops.
Need to Know
In general, most businesses are open from 10am to around 7pm on weekdays and 11am to around 8pm Saturdays. Sundays can be variable – some stores stay closed while others keep weekday hours. Stores tend to stay open later in the neighborhoods downtown. Small boutiques often have variable hours – many open at noon.
Clothing and footwear that costs less than $110 is exempt from sales tax. For everything else, you’ll pay 8.875% retail sales tax on every purchase.
- Women's Wear Daily (twitter.com/wwd) The latest fashion news in NYC and beyond from one of the top insider publications.
- Andre Leon Talley (www.twitter.com/OfficialALT) Anna Wintour’s top fashion editor in the know at Vogue.
- New York Times (www.twitter.com/NYTFashion) Everything that’s happening in the fashion industry.
- Racked (www.ny.racked.com) Informative shopping blog with its finger on the pulse.
- New York Magazine (www.nymag.com) Trustworthy opinions on the Big Apple’s best places to swipe your plastic.
- The Glamourai (www.theglamourai.com) Glossy downtown fashion blog that’s packed with cutting-edge style ideas.
Men’s shirts (collar sizes)
Measurements approximate only; try before you buy.