Las Vegas is one of the top shopping destinations in the world, and many visitors list the malls, stores, outlets, and boutiques as one of their primary reasons for coming to the city. Several top-grossing retail outlets are in Las Vegas, including the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, which makes more money per square foot than any other mall in the United States. But in between the big malls and high-end luxury stores are lots of fun and offbeat boutiques that help to make Vegas a shopper’s paradise, no matter your taste or budget.
Because they are as much tourist attractions as shopping destinations, the malls, stores, and boutiques on the Strip are open longer than you may expect, generally from 10am until 11pm on weekdays, and until midnight on weekends. Once you get off the Strip, things become more normal, with typical operating hours between 9am and 6 or 7pm. Some of the smaller independent stores are closed on Sundays.
Generally speaking, the further away you get from the Strip, the cheaper the prices. This applies to just about all categories of merchandise, even at name-brand chain stores where they will bump up prices by a few bucks just because they can. So if you’re planning on getting a pair of shoes or jeans at a familiar chain store, check to see if they have an outlet elsewhere in the city and you can often save yourself some dough.
This also holds true for sundry items like toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant. If you buy these at the hotel gift shops, expect to pay significantly more than you would if you go off the Strip to a regular retailer like Target or Walmart.
You might consider driving Maryland Parkway, which runs parallel to the Strip on the east and has just about one of everything: Target, Toys "R" Us, several major department stores, major drugstores (in case you forgot your shampoo and don't want to spend $8 on a new bottle in your hotel's sundry shop), some alternative-culture stores (tattoo parlors and hip clothing stores), and so forth. It goes on for blocks.
Fashion & Beauty
There are a number of clothing shops in Vegas, though most are of the name-brand chain variety, from high to low end. In addition to those listed, both the Forum Shops and Miracle Mile have H&M stores, where the clothes are cheap and fashionable and the lines to try them on are very long. Go as soon they open to avoid the crowds.
The Arts Factory Complex, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. (tel. 702/383-3133), is full of galleries of local artists working in a variety of different mediums, and one of their works would make for an original souvenir. Funkier finds can be had at the Emergency Arts Collective, 520 Fremont St. E. (www.emergencyartslv.com), which has everything from clothes to jewelry to classic vinyl, all created or curated by local talent.
If you prefer your souvenirs to be a little less class and a little more kitsch, head over to the Bonanza Gift and Souvenir Shop, 2460 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (tel. 702/385-7539). It's the self-proclaimed "World's Largest Gift Shop," and it certainly is big. T-shirts; Native American "handicrafts"; all kinds of playing cards, both new and used (casinos have to change decks frequently, so this is where used packs go); dice; things covered in rhinestones; snow globes -- in short, something for everyone, provided "everyone" has a certain sensibility. We looked, and we felt the tackiest item available was the pair of earrings made out of poker chips. The coolest? Some inexpensive, old-fashioned-style dice.
For mixed emotions, little can beat items emblazoned with vintage images of bomb tests and other glories to the good old days of atomic blasts, at the Atomic Testing Museum gift store, 755 E. Flamingo Rd. (tel. 702/794-5161).
Antiques in Vegas? You mean really old slot machines, or the people playing the really old slot machines? Actually, Vegas has quite a few antiques stores -- nearly two dozen -- of consistent quality and price, mostly located within a few blocks of each other. We have one friend, someone who takes interior design very seriously, who says most of her best finds were in Vegas. You should see her antique chandelier collection!
To get to this antiquing mecca, start in the middle of the 1600 block of East Charleston Boulevard and keep driving east. The little stores, nearly all in old houses dating from the '30s, line each side of the street.
Shopping Gets Real
The proliferation of reality TV shows has turned an island’s worth of Average Joes, from ice road truck drivers and overly tanned Jersey boys, into pop-culture stars. Although you can’t go trawling on a fishing boat with your favorite demi-celebrities, in Las Vegas you can visit the shopkeepers-turned-stars who appear on some of the most popular History Channel show.
Pawn Stars is set at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, 713 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (www.gspawn.com; [tel] 702/385-7912). Operated by the colorful Harrison family, the store is heavy on hocked jewelry—but there are lots of other odds and ends worth a quick browse. The bad news is that the Harrisons themselves are rarely on-site anymore, which can be a disappointment to the hordes of people waiting in line (seriously!) to get inside. If you can’t leave Vegas without an autograph, you could always pony up and schedule yourself for the 4-hour VIP meet and greet tour which also takes you to various other Las Vegas reality show locations. But if $70 is a bit much just to meet the gang, there is a life-sized cut-out of Chumlee, Rick, Corey, and Richard to pose in front of. The store is open daily from 9am until 9pm.
You’ll have a much better chance of seeing people you’ve seen on TV at Rick’s Restorations, 1112 S. Commerce St. (www.ricksrestorations.com; tel 702/366-7030), where American Restoration is filmed (which also happens to be a stop on the Pawn Stars VIP tour). Owner Rick Dale, his wife Kelly, and a crew of lovable oddballs restore classic Americana (soda machines, gas pumps, bicycles, slot machines, and more) in a rambling facility that offers tours, a showroom, a gift shop, and more. Big windows in the public areas give you a glimpse into the working facility, and people from the show, including Rick, will often pop out to say hi and sign autographs. The restorations themselves are stunning accomplishments, but you’re going to need a high credit limit to afford any of it. Recently offered gas pumps, for instance, started at around $7,000 and went up from there. The store is open Monday through Friday from 9am until 5pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.