The Best Shopping in New York City

New York City’s distinct neighborhoods offer up all kinds of shopping experiences. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the side streets of SoHo are hubs for designer and indie boutiques. Department stores have their flagships planted on Madison Avenue around 57th Street, and you can score bargains at downtown’s Century 21. Here are some of the most unique places to shop in the Big Apple, including flea markets and museums.

337 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Many of New York’s original haberdasheries have vanished over the years, victims of high rents and changing customer tastes. But classic hats have been making a comeback among New Yorkers lately, and Goorin Bros. is one of the popular places to buy a quality hat. Styles here vary by season, but whatever the time of year and whatever the type of style you buy, there will always be feathers, hat pins, and other adornments you can purchase as add-ons to make your hat one-of-a-kind.
889 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA
Since 1986, this kitchen supply store has been selling whimsical, New York-centric plates, bowls, barware, dish towels, and other entertaining doo-dads you’ll suddenly feel you can’t live without. Want a set of glasses frosted with an image of the Brooklyn Bridge to commemorate your NYC visit? Placemats edged with a print of Manhattan’s skyline? Fishs Eddy has them both, and a whole lot more. Just take care as you navigate through the towering stacks.
21 Dey St, New York, NY 10007, USA
Located in Lower Manhattan, across from the World Trade Center site, the Century 21 flagship store is a must-shop for bargain hunters. (There are also locations in downtown Brooklyn and on the Upper West Side, at Broadway and 66th Street.) Spanning seven floors, with a total of 220,000 square feet of retail space, the flagship is filled with everything from true designer items—often dramatically discounted from the original price—to bargain packages of underwear and socks. It is by its nature hit-or-miss. The store sells the previous year’s fashions, surplus and irregular items, and designs that simply didn’t move. One day you may come across an overlooked gem; on another visit you’ll find only things that are simply a little too out there, explaining how they ended up at Century 21. The experience can be overwhelming, and many serious shoppers have different and often contradictory strategies—from visiting only twice a year to checking out the merchandise there at least three times a week. Perhaps the best approach is to go in with an attitude that even if you don’t find any hidden treasures, you can at least enjoy a true New York moment of bumping elbows in the search for a bargain.
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, USA
If you are a fan of the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar bookstore, then you’ll be in heaven at the Strand, on Broadway at 12th Street. The store boasts that it has 2.5 million books, or 18 miles of them. While we aren’t sure how they measured books in miles, if you are looking for something to read, you are sure to find it here on one of the emporium’s two levels. Most of the goods here are used, though the Strand also has new copies of all the latest popular releases. There is also a separate rare-book room for serious collectors in the building next door (ask at the information desk for directions). The Strand also hosts regular signings and readings.
11 West 53rd Street
Did you fall in love with a Picasso or Pollock during your meander through MoMA? Stop by the MoMA Store for a print or postcard. The large shop also has art books, toys, home goods, and gifts, most of which reflect the pieces and themes in the museum’s own permanent collection. A decent portion of the items available are New York-themed, too. Looking for larger objects? The MoMA Design Store is directly across the street. If your purchase is too big to lug around city streets, have the staff package it for shipping.
285 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211, USA
1970s and ‘80s rock t-shirts, cowboy boots, jean jackets, and flannels that will transport you back to the dawn of Nirvana and Pearl Jam are the specialties at this vintage shop in Williamsburg. Most of the goods on sale are color-coded making shopping fun and easy. Looking for designer labels? Ask to slip into the back room, where dresses and other duds from even earlier eras (and at slightly higher prices) await. The shop also has some vintage home goods, including blankets and furniture.
51 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, USA
Brooklyn Flea has enriched the city landscape with a contemporary spin to the traditional concept of a flea market. Find beauty in unexpected places at the Flea. With a range of vendors of antiques and vintage clothing, a selection of jewelry, art and crafts by local artisans, as well as food, there’s something for everyone. It is open to the public outdoors from April through November, on Saturdays in Fort Greene and on Sundays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and indoors from Thanksgiving to March.
550 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA
If Fifth Avenue in Midtown is New York’s primary higher-end retail strip, with Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, and Bergdorf Goodman as its anchors, the SoHo section of Broadway (between Houston and Canal) is its less glamorous sister, crowded with young shoppers pretty much every day of the year. Established chain brands have largely taken over, with Uniqlo, Banana Republic, and CB2 among those represented. In addition to them, there’s a downtown branch of Bloomingdale’s that tries to follow a more fashion-forward path than the Upper East Side mother ship. Also tucked between the familiar brands are a few bargain holdouts from the days when the neighborhood attracted students on budgets, selling T-shirts and jeans in no-frills, fluorescent-lit spaces. The shopping continues in both directions off of Broadway: Nolita, to the east, has more small, unique boutiques; head west, into SoHo, and you’ll find more-upscale brands than those represented on Broadway.
1050 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022, USA
Seek, and antiquers shall find that New York is a paradise of flea markets, vintage shops, and emporia like this one offering up all kinds of goods. The Manhattan Art and Antique Center is in Midtown East, near the tony Sutton Place enclave. Its individual shops and galleries feature everything from Egyptian antiquities to classic toys from the golden age of American manufacturing.
484 Broome St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Honduran-American entrepreneur Maribel Lieberman opened this chocolate emporium in 2002 and it’s been a hit ever since, not the least reason being that it evokes the joy, beauty, and attention to detail that characterized the movie, “Chocolat.” Here, you can buy individual pieces of chocolate that are hand-painted with charming, colorful scenes designed by Lieberman’s artist husband, Jacques, as well as nicely packaged sweet treats. You’re also welcome to linger in the on-site café, which serves tea, several types of hot chocolate, lunch, and desserts.
75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
Between 15th and 16th streets on Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, the Chelsea Market is a food court with New York attitude. Its restaurants and shops sell Australian meat pies, banh mi, and lobster rolls. These are no fast-food chains—this is a place to find cheese from upstate or that spice you can’t find at your supermarket. There is now a Posman Books and an Anthropologie outpost, but most of the places here stay true to the market’s culinary roots with Sarabeth’s, Ronnybrook Dairy, and Berlin Currywurst as good places to pick up food to eat on the spot or to take home. If you are looking for a hard-to-find kitchen gadget, the Bowery Kitchens store is almost sure to have it. The market is also ideally located if you want to purchase picnic supplies before ascending to the High Line if the weather is good.
888 Broadway
Just north of Union Square, ABC’s Manhattan flagship spreads across several floors of a warehouse-like corner building. It’s long championed craftsmanship and sustainability, with covetable home goods—vintage textiles, lighting, furniture—sourced globally, from India to Denmark. Pop-ups within the store sometimes showcase avant-garde designs. Artisanal jewelry, clothes, decorative objects and other items more likely to fit in a suitcase can be found on the ground floor. Nearby, you can take your pick among three acclaimed restaurants launched in partnership with Chef Jean-Georges: ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina, and ABCV.
123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA
Located in Manhattan’s “Curry Hill” (a play on the neighborhood’s formal name, Murray Hill) and surrounded by Indian restaurants frequented by taxi drivers for quick to-go plates, Kalustyan’s is a must-stop for nuts, spices, and other specialty foods sourced from around the globe. It’s easy to lose yourself among the bins, boxes, and bags, and you may end up bringing home new finds—say, French de Puy lentils or hibiscus flowers in their own syrup (great for DIY cocktails). Head upstairs for a bite at the modest in-store restaurant.
The New York-themed souvenirs sold around Times Square or along Fifth Avenue tend to be terribly kitschy, cheaply made, and overpriced. For a more lasting, sophisticated reminder of your time in New York, browse the selection at the gift shop of The New York Public Library. Located inside the Schwarzman Building (the one that sits on the east side of Bryant Park, flanked by two lions), the shop has a range of gifts for people of all ages, many of which are a nod to New York’s literary history. You can buy library lion bookends, vintage NYPL-stamped handbags, NYC-themed children’s books, postcards, and much more.
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