Ask a New Yorker where to shop, and you’ll likely receive a mile-long list. With a patchwork of department stores, luxury boutiques, and indie shops scattered throughout the city, New York could be deemed a shopper’s paradise. Unlike shopping in some other cities, though, NYC retailers aren’t limited to a few districts. Instead, stores pepper almost every neighbourhood, and many are the lifeblood of the areas they serve. From designer brands on Fifth Avenue to swank establishments in Brooklyn and specialty shops along the fringes, New York’s diverse shopping scene offers plenty for every style, taste, and budget.
This classic, high-end department store, set in the Vanderbilt Mansion since 1928, is an icon of the city and a draw for tastemakers with deep pockets. Bergdorf’s, as New Yorkers call it, stocks scores of luxury brands and caters to an upper echelon of shoppers, but wide-eyed tourists can often be found browsing or gazing at the store’s brilliant, eye-catching window displays. The shoe department on the fifth floor, studded with Manolo Blahniks and Christian Louboutins, is a destination in its own right. Stylish males aren’t left out, either. They can shop at Bergdorf Goodman Men’s Store across the street.
Contact:00 1 888 774 2424; bergdorfgoodman.com
Nearest metro: N/R/W to 5th Avenue; F/M to 57th Street
That huge piano in the award-winning 1988 film Big made this legendary toy store famous. Even though the Fifth Avenue outpost shuttered in 2015, the brand made a comeback with the Rockefeller Center location opening three years later. FAO Schwarz features one-of-a-kind-toys from around the world, catering to toddlers, kids, teens, and the young-at-heart. Expect dolls, life-size stuffed animals, planes, trains, and mini musical instruments, as well as puzzles and board games – some for the entire family. This toy superstore is entertaining at any time of year, but especially amusing during the holiday season.
Contact: 00 1 800 326 8638; faoschwarz.com
Nearest metro: B/D/F/M to 47-50 Streets Rockefeller Center
Fine And Dandy Shop
Off-the-beaten-path, dapper, and fashionable could all accurately describe this petite yet adorable men’s store, which was born as an online shop. Co-owners Matt Fox and Enrique Crame III curate sweaters, bow ties, suspenders, custom shirts, and accessories from Woolrich, Pantherella, and their namesake label, keeping the most style-conscious gents in mind. Unexpected items to discover range from ascots to cashmere bow ties and crown cufflinks. The boutique also stocks home goods – think candles, pillows, and Irish tweed throws. Can’t squeeze that pair of African indigo shoes into your checked baggage? Not to worry – Fine & Dandy ships all over the globe.
Contact: 00 1 212 247 4847; fineanddandyshop.com
Nearest metro: 1 to 50th Street; N/Q/R/W to 49th Street
If GPS wasn’t around in 1985, this sassy shop might not exist. Julie Gaines and David Lenovitz were lost in Upstate New York and stumbled across Fishs Eddy, a tiny hamlet several hours from the city. The duo discovered a barn filled with old tableware which they brought to their Manhattan apartment, deciding to open a shop and adopt the town’s name. Today, the store stocks mix-and-match dinnerware as well as funky original designs such as 212 Skyline (who doesn’t want the New York horizon on a dish towel?) and a mishmash of quirky gift items.
Contact: 00 1 212 420 9020; fishseddy.com
Nearest metro: 6 to 23rd Street
When 25-year-old Ben Bass opened his used book store in 1927, he wanted to create a comfortable place where writers would congregate and find books they loved. As the sole surviving shop from New York’s “Book Row”, this beloved store continues to attract bookworms nearly a century after its founding. The Greenwich Village mainstay stocks 18 miles of new, used, and rare titles, with over 2.5 million books to choose from in every imaginable genre. Today, the Bass family continues Ben’s legacy, catering to both the literary crowd and casual readers.
Contact:00 1 212 473 1452; strandbooks.com
Nearest metro: 4/5/6; L; N/Q/RW to 14th Street Union Square
Hidden gems exist all over New York, but one you definitely don’t want to miss is this treasure trove in the far West Village, where ephemera meets handmade, reverse decoupage glass. In this packed-to-the-gills boutique, glassware, trays, coasters, and NYC-centric souvenirs small enough to tuck in a tote bag, are thoughtfully displayed. Owner and artisan Carol Kaas combs flea markets and antique sales in search of unique botanical prints, patterns, and pictures ranging from English garden chic to the hauntingly beautiful. Kaas crafts custom pieces as well, but her ready-made collection feels one-of-a-kind.
Contact: 00 1 212 366 0322; kaas.com
Nearest metro: 1 to Christopher Street
When Murray Greenberg founded his eponymous shop in 1940, he probably had little idea the store would go on to become a Village institution. Eighty years later, foodies flock to this downtown staple where artisan cheese and a medley of delicious accoutrements fill the shelves. Be it Comte Saint Antoine, Ewephoria sheep milk gouda or creamy French feta, the artisan choices at Murray’s fulfil every cheese enthusiast’s cravings. The store also sells premade food items ideal for a takeout meal, as well as nuts, olives, fresh pasta, and other tempting edibles.
Contact:00 1 212 243 2489; murrayscheese.com
Nearest metro: A/C/E; B/D/F/M to West 4th Street
MarieBelle New York Chocolates
Gourmet chocolates aren’t hard to come by, but Maribel Lieberman’s delectable cocoa confections, crafted from single-origin cacao harvested in the Americas, are handmade in Brooklyn. That’s hard to believe since her charming and impeccably decorated SoHo boutique appears to have stepped right out of Paris’s Saint-Germain-des-Prés district. The chocolatier also uses Puerto Rican rum, English lavender, and Tahitian vanilla among other ingredients to flavour her picture-perfect creations, which come flawlessly packaged. The Chocolate Ganache collection, some featuring New York-centric designs like the Empire State Building, is a bestseller and a comestible work of art.
Contact: 00 1 212 925 6999; mariebelle.com
Nearest metro: A/C/E to Spring Street; 1 to Canal Street
Fabulous Fanny’s NYC
Fabulous eyewear is what you’ll discover at this funky outpost, named after co-owner Stan Blackmer’s pet macaw. He and his friend, Ken Finneran, share a passion for vintage glasses – the chic styles movie stars so gracefully wore – which, some years ago, led them to sell their own stash at Chelsea Flea Market. Fast forward to now, and the shop’s all-new collection is hand-finished in Italy with some of the world’s finest materials. While the brand’s products are sold in various eyewear shops around the US, they don’t compare to the East Village original.
Contact: 00 1 212 533 0637; fabulousfannysnyc.com
Nearest metro: 6 to Astor Place; L to 1st Avenue
When style-conscious Megan Kinney opened her namesake East Village shop at age 22, she aimed to sell at least 10 dresses a day to pay the rent. She’s sharpened the store’s offerings over the years, but Meg remains female-operated, with most items designed by Kinney then made by women locally. Her varied selection ranges from structured blazers to form-fitted jumpsuits, chic tunics, and cosy sweaters. The boutique also sells shoes, jewellery, and an array of unique accessories. Before shopping, customers can book a personal stylist appointment to assist with clothing selection for body type, tailoring, and more.
Contact: 00 1 212 260 6329; megshops.com
Nearest metro: 6 to Astor Place; L to 1st Avenue
Lower East Side
Russ & Daughters
‘Appetizing counters’ – Jewish food shops selling fish and dairy products but no meats – were once a dime a dozen in New York City, but these beloved institutions are becoming extinct. One which has stood the test of time is the neon-lit Russ & Daughters, a fourth-generation shop in the same East Houston Street location since 1920. The Russ family has helmed the store since its opening in 1914, dishing out pounds of smoked nova, pastrami-cured salmon, pickled herring, as well as bagels of every flavour, blinis, babka, and blintzes. Go hungry.
Contact: 00 1 212 475 4880 ext. 1; russanddaughters.com
Nearest metro: B/D/F/M to Broadway/Lafayette Street; J/Z to Bowery
Pearl River Mart
Unlike the streets of Chinatown, you won’t have to battle the crowds at this Chinese-American department store. Pearl River Mart has been celebrating Asian heritage since 1971, with humble beginnings as a “friendship” store in Chinatown before it became a mainstay for culture-savvy New Yorkers. This Tribeca emporium is well known for sushi sets, sake cups, chopsticks, origami, and pretty parasols, as well as unusual items like embellished daggers. It’s also one of New York’s best for Asian-inspired apparal, from Mandarin dresses and Kung Fu jackets to tees with quippy phrases like “I’m all that and dim sum” and “Pho sizzle.”
Contact: 00 1 212 431 4770; pearlriver.com
Nearest metro: N/Q/R/W to Canal Street
This off-price retailer may have once been New York’s best-kept secret, but luckily for fashionistas, that’s no longer the case. This Fi-Di flagship, brimming with discounted designer labels like Salvatore Ferragamo, Stella McCartney, and Saint Laurent, still sits in the Lower Manhattan location opened in 1961 by the Gindi family. What started as a three-floor discount department store now stretches over six buildings, attracting locals, tourists, and celebrities for the stockpile of couture fashion. It’s nearly impossible to leave Century 21 without a sack of faddy finds; from evening wear to neckties to athleisure, there’s a bargain for every buyer.
Contact: 00 1 212 227 9092; c21stores.com
Nearest metro: J/Z to Canal; F to East Broadway
Ulla Johnson, Proenza Schuler, Caron Callahan, and Comme Des Garcons are just a handful of the famous brands you’ll encounter at Bird. Owner and Barneys New York alum Jen Mankins embraces both established and up-and-coming independent designers as she maintains the store’s assemblage of dresses, shirts, trousers, sweaters, shoes, and handbags, as well as menswear, books, and home décor items. Though the shop has several locations in Brooklyn, each remains loyal to the energy, style, and vibe of its neighbourhood. The Williamsburg outpost, staying true to its surroundings, often showcases art and photography by budding artists.
Contact: 00 1 718 768 4940; birdbrooklyn.com
Nearest metro: L to Bedford Avenue; B62 to Bedford Av/Grand St
Artists & Fleas
This internationally known warehouse-turned-artisan market is where innovative, well-designed and carefully curated goods converge under one roof. Artists & Fleas is an exciting representation of New York’s vibrant creative community, hosting more than 75 makers and their wares, which include jewellery, clothing, arts and crafts, vintage pieces, and other collectables. The market in Williamsburg is the place that started it all, drawing crowds since it opened in 2003. If you can’t make this weekend-only flagship, shop the Soho market – located at Broadway and Broome Street – seven days a week.
Contact: 00 1 917 488 4203; artistsandfleas.com
Nearest metro: L to Bedford Avenue; B32 to Kent Av/N 6th St