If you can’t buy it in
New York, it probably hasn’t been invented yet. From Fifth Avenue department
stores where credit cards come to die to flea markets piled high with vintage
clothes, this city spends with the best of them.
Barney’s, the classic NYC department store, has
attracted the city’s serious fashion freaks since 1923 and has a reputation for
being bang on the money with up-and-coming labels, such as Miu Miu and Derek
Lam. There is also a huge collection of bags, cosmetics and homewares. For less
expensive deals, try Barney’s Co-Op stores all around the city. (660 Madison
As well as providing
NYC’s best Christmas window displays, Bergdorf
Goodman is stuffed full of high-end fashion labels – John Varvatos, Marc
Jacobs and Etro, to name three. There are bags, shoes, jewellery, cosmetics and
homewares, plus a men’s store over the street. If the price tags bring on a
cold sweat, the views looking north over Central Park should keep you calm (754
W 58th St).
Set up like a museum
on six floors, ABC Carpet and Home is the
place where designers and decorators come to seek inspiration. It’s filled with
furnishings small and large, including handcrafted knickknacks, designer
jewellery, lighting, antiques and carpets. Come Christmas, it’s a joy to
behold: the decorators go all out. Also check out the new ABC Kitchen, serving
organic dishes (888 Broadway).
Vintage and boutique
Strand Bookstore is the city’s best-loved
book store: it’s been open since 1927, selling new, used and rare titles. There
are a staggering 18 miles’ worth of books here – more than 2.5 million of them,
spread out across three labyrinthine floors. For real bargains try the
basement, which is jam-packed with media review copies.
The super-sleek Moma shop in the Museum of Modern Art does a
fine line in handsome prints and coffee-table books, but you’ll also find a
carefully curated selection of stylish-looking objects for the home and office:
kitchen gadgets, surreal lamps, games, Modernist alarm clocks, fridge magnets,
slick ceramics, offbeat children’s toys and more. MoMA is a great shout if
you’re bereft of inspiration for those important holiday gifts (11 W 53rd St).
Vintage clothing is
only a small part of the appeal at Vintage
Thrift – this is a place where you can find everything from a 1940s tea set
to 1970s lounge furniture or the trappings of a 1930s dentist’s office. There
are piles of old editions of Vogue, vintage typewriters and Victorian toys:
it’s an absolute treasure trove of jumble. All proceeds go to the United Jewish
Council, which supports elderly residents in the East Side (286 3rd Ave; closed
Brooklyn Flea is arguably the best flea
market in the city. Around 200 stalls set up on the grounds of a school in Fort
Greene every Saturday, selling antiques, second-hand records, furniture,
vintage clothes and crafts. In winter, the market goes indoors at One Hanson
Place. On Sundays, the action moves to the East River Waterfront at
Williamsburg (176 Lafayette Ave).
For the hundreds of
stallholders who set up at Hell’s Kitchen
Flea Market every Saturday and Sunday, haggling is expected. Trestle tables
piled high with every kind of bric-a-brac, clothes and furniture, old family
photos and antique jewellery invite leisurely browsing, while the regular
Gourmet Food Truck bazaars include the city’s top street food vendors (426 W
The Market NYC, a design market held in a
loft-style space in Greenwich Village, is one of the best places to find the
work of up-and-coming designers at bargain prices. Screenprinted T-shirts,
jewellery, photography, home furnishings, handbags and art are all up for grabs
– and don’t be afraid to haggle. Plus there are plenty of eclectic food stalls
for a postshopping snack (159 Bleecker St; Wed–Sun).
Where to stay
East Village Bed and Coffee is a family
home turned offbeat, arty b&b with themed rooms and great amenities, such
as free cycle hire and wi-fi. Each floor has shared common and kitchen space,
with guests free to come and go as they please (from £90).
Inn on 23rd Street, set in a five-story
townhouse in Chelsea, is a 14-room b&b with big, welcoming rooms, fancy
fabrics and TVs held in huge armoires. There’s an honesty bar and a piano for
you to play on in the lounge, plus a Victorian library that doubles as a
breakfast room (from £170).
Sleeping in one of Hôtel Americano’s perfectly polished
rooms is a bit like laying your head in a bento box, but with minimalist
furniture rather than food. It offers everything from Turkish towels to
Japanese washing cloths, with controls activated via personal iPads. You can
explore surrounding Chelsea on a free guest bike (from £215).
Direct flights to New
York’s JFK and Newark airports leave from Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and
Birmingham. Carriers include BA, United, Delta and Virgin Atlantic (from around
£480; delta.com). Once in New York City itself, it’s easiest to use public
transport – the subway system is relatively simple to use (singles £1.50,
seven-day passes £19; mta.info).
The article 'Mini guide to shopping in New York' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.