Last minute holiday shopping in the Big Apple
Young shoppers peruse the wares in the Disney Store, Times Square. Richard I'Anson/LPI)
To the question “Where do I shop?”, NYC answers “How much you got?” For your last-minute holiday shopping needs, here is a guide to the best places to splash some cash.
Well-funded shoppers head to Midtown's Fifth Ave and the Upper East Side's Madison Ave. Soho has high-end boutiques stocking the wares of international and famous local designers, while Nolita has smaller boutiques of expensive, up-and-coming stylists. The Lower East Side and the East Village are traditional enclaves of vintage and indie fashion. The West Village has tiny, well-known boutiques, while the Meatpacking District is home to designer havens. Midtown is the place for big-box retailers like Macy's.
These days, Soho is one big shopping mall, with high-end fashion well represented along West Broadway between Houston and Grand streets. There are many ways to rack up debt at this major shopping destination, with hundreds of stores, big and small, scattered along its streets. Broadway is one of the main corridors, and is lined with less expensive chain stores. Hidden west along the tree-lined streets are pricier boutiques selling clothing, shoes, accessories and home wares. During the warmer months, you will also find street vendors hawking jewellery, art, T-shirts, hats and other crafts.
Less touristy than Soho, Nolita (Mott Street between Houston and Broome Streets) has lovely little clothing, shoe and accessory shops carrying up-and-coming designers. Mott Street is best for browsing, followed by Mulberry and Elizabeth.
For edgier fashions and urban style, begin your Lower East Side explorations on Orchard between Houston and Grand Streets. The downtown fashion crowd looking for that edgy, experimental, or "old-school hip-hop" look head to the shops in the Lower East Side. Sprinkled among the district's many bars and restaurants are dozens of stores selling vintage apparel, vegan shoes, one-of-a-kind sneakers, old-fashioned candy, left-wing books and more.
More pleasant than the chaotic St Marks Place one block south, East 9th between Second Ave and Avenue A is a good intro to the vintage stores and curio shops of the East Village. Once the archetype of underground, downtown style, the East Village is doing some soul searching (some might say "selling") these days. You will still find urban and outsider fashion, but new local designers, sleeker shops and even chain stores have moved into the area, blunting the neighbourhood's former edginess. Still, there is more than a whiff of those rockin' '80s days at punk-rock T-shirt shops, tattoo parlours and dusty stores selling furniture and vintage clothing, and the record stores are the real deal, with New York's best selection of vinyl.
Proudly flying the rainbow colours, Christopher Street between Greenwich and West 4th Streets has its fair share of leather and sex shops, with some friendly bars and cafes along the way.
Running south from Abingdon Square, tree-lined Bleecker (between Bank and West 10th Streets) is sprinkled with eye-catching storefronts and boutiques selling trendy apparel. The picturesque, tranquil streets of the West Village are home to some lovely boutiques, with a few antique dealers, bookstores, record stores, and quirky gift and curio shops adding a bit of eclecticism to an otherwise fashion-focused 'hood.
Between Central Park and Rockefeller Center, this commercial strip is the El Dorado of shopping. Stepping into Tiffany's, Bergdorf's and Takashimaya is just the beginning... A vast sea of concrete and chaos, Midtown offers shopping delights for commoner and debutante alike. Those with cash head north to movie-famed Fifth Ave and 59th Street, gateway to the Garden of Eden as far as luxury goods are concerned. Here, jewellers like Tiffany & Co and Cartier hold court, alongside the gilded department stores of Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel. Even if you left your Amex black card at home, it is worth going to see the artfully designed window displays, which change seasonally and get more spectacular each year.