The Best Shopping in New York City
In this era of internet shopping, does it matter that New York is the country's premier shopping city? We think it does. All of the major brands have their flagship stores here, and they're palaces of commerce with serious design flourishes and massive arrays of merchandise. In addition, a number of previously internet-based brands have been opening their first, and sometimes only, bricks-and-mortar locations in New York, allowing fans to do something they can't when purchasing over the web: try before buying. As a multicultural destination, New York also has goods that you usually have to cross an ocean or two to find. Because of all of this variety, shopping in the city is still a hugely fun activity.
In the 1890s, the first of the Sahadis immigrated to New York City and started selling food from a pushcart on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. That cart became a store, first in Manhattan, and then, in 1948, this institution, which occupies a stretch of storefronts along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. As in the old days, much of the food is scooped out from bins—200 of them!—and it comes from all corners of the planet, including every type of olive and olive oil, sausages imported from France, tahini from Israel, and on and on. The deli prepares terrific Lebanese food created from family recipes, making this a swell place not just to shop but to have a quick meal, too.
B&H (420 Ninth Ave. at 34th St.) is the best place on the East Coast for deep discounts on cameras, TVs, computers, and other electronics. With 50% of the store's sales now online, service has become much less rushed, and the salespeople are real experts. Note: B&H is closed Saturdays.
The store's motto—“If you can’t get it anywhere else, try Bigelow”—is right on the money. This 181-year-old apothecary (414 Sixth Ave. btw. 8th & 9th sts.), the oldest in the nation, carries unusual brands plus its own great line of personal-care products.
This magical (and costly) emporium (888 Broadway) is the ultimate home fashions and furnishings store, with everything from zillion-thread-count sheets to enchanting children’s furniture to handblown glass chandeliers. For discounts, visit the store's outlet in Brooklyn.
Packed to the gills with goods—designer gowns, baby clothes, towels, dish sets, sexy shoes—Bloomie’s is more accessible and affordable than Barneys, Bergdorf, or Saks. The midtown Manhattan location (1000 Third Ave. at 59th St. and Lexington Ave.) is legendary, but there's now an offshoot in Soho (504 Broadway) as well.
The Museum of Modern Art store stocks fabulous, unique gifts, from silk scarves with Frank Lloyd Wright designs to Eames chairs. The Christmas ornaments are gorgeous. The main store is at the museum (11 W. 53rd St.), but there's also a huge location in Soho (pictured; 81 Spring St.).
An offshoot of the very first concept store ever. The original was created by editor Carla Sozzani in Milan in the 1990s as an attempt to bring a magazine to life. This spinoff (1 Fulton St.) is as theatrical as the first store—jam-packed with fashion-forward (if wallet-rending) clothing, collector’s-edition sneakers, wacky furnishings (including, recently, a couch that looked like a giant hot dog), an onsite art gallery, and a chic and very good Italian restaurant. It’s a hoot to wander through, even if you don’t buy anything.
Billing itself as an “experiential retail space,” Camp (110 Fifth Ave.) sells a wide array of imaginative and (usually) nonelectronic toys—craft sets, magic kits, dolls, blocks. A 10,000-square-foot play space lets kids not only try out the merchandise but also engage in mini-workshops on a number of different subjects. During a recent visit, the place was decked out like a sleepaway camp, but with a disco straight out of Saturday Night Fever at the center. There were even flashing lights in the floor. Themes change every few months, though, so we can’t guarantee that you and your tot will get to boogie down. Created by one of the top execs at Buzzfeed, Camp is a, well, buzzy place that wee ones adore.
The largest Uniqlo on earth, this Fifth Avenue mothership is always packed. Known as Japan’s answer to the Gap, Uniqlo specializes in smartly constructed basics, such as the perfect black cotton V-neck shirt or office-worthy slacks, all for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere.
One of the few IRL iterations of this internet phenom, Everlane (28 Prince St.) is another top stop for fashionable wardrobe building blocks—a go-to cotton sweater, say, or a snazzy pair of cargo pants. And as with Everlane’s online wares, everything is created in ethical factories around the world.
This local legend (828 Broadway) is worth a visit for its staggering “18 miles of books." New and used titles are available at up to 85% off the list price. The travel section is on the lower level.
With a deep stock and great values, this spacious downtown institution (399 Lafayette St.) not only features hard-to-find wines but has a vast collection of varied spirits at can't-beat-'em prices.