I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Since the late 1990s, retailers have seen consistent profits emerge from trendy and temporary pop-up stores, especially those open during the busy holiday shopping season. This year is no exception, as New York City is hosting an array of new and returning favorites, including WIRED's gadget-filled utopia, Levi's interactive photo workshop space, and Harlem PoP, a weekend-only destination that is more party-infused than gift-list oriented. Here is a survey of our favorites and how and when you can score some unique gifts.
Cool Hunting for Gap Residing next to The Gap flagship department store on Fifth Avenue is Cool Hunting (pictured), a pop-up venue showcasing gifts curated by Josh Rubin, editor of the blog Cool Hunting. The store contains no Gap products; instead it sells a variety of artful items that are locally sourced and produced in limited editions, such as bicycles, wool biking caps, skinny jeans made from vintage denim, coffee table books, home wares, and designer skateboard decks. Trimmed in reclaimed wood, the store takes the theme of a cozy, winter retreat.
WIRED Now in its sixth year, WIRED Magazine's holiday pop-up store is a familiar wintertime destination for inner geeks and the folks who love them. Ultimately, WIRED makes the most of the interactive experience (more so because you can only order items and have them shipped rather than leave toy-in-hand), but the store gets points by demonstrating gadgets affordable for all budgets. Check out three-floors of the latest in laptops, TVs, phones, and limited-edition items designed by Chris Milk, Jack Spade, and Tokyo Police Club. What's even more fun is how you can browse gadgets by personality and lift your spirits with complimentary drinks by Arizona Beverages.
Where: 692 Broadway
When: Wed-Sun. 11AM-7PM
Levi's Photo Workshop This garage space in SoHo has been turned into a public gallery, photo production studio, and print shop that also hosts lectures from professional photographers, parties, and openings (like the recent showing of photographs by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Everything is free, including making large format prints, using studio or computer time, and/or trying out a fine selection of vintage and contemporary film cameras. Somewhere in the midst of all the fun you're being brainwashed to buy Levi's jeans, but we don't care and neither should you.
Harlem PoP Just as much attention was given to this pop-up store as any interesting interactive art installation. The work of emerging New York fashion and jewelry designers is available to purchase while enjoying sets by local DJs, tasting foods by Harlem's best chefs, viewing rotating art exhibits, and listening to new work by musicians M.I.A. and Santagold.
Kate Spade Holiday Pop Shop Warm up with free hot chocolate at the Kate Spade igloo in Bryant Park, but not before you've decided in which gorgeous color mom would prefer her new wallet. Fans of the designer's classic yet contemporary line will be pleased to browse everything from luxury handbags to cold weather accessories, fragrances, home décor, and even stationary.
Where: Bryant Park (42nd St. and Sixth Ave.)
When: M-T 10AM-10PM; Fri.-Sat. 10AM-11PM; Sun. 10AM-8PM
Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store This temporary branch of the popular old-fashioned general store in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill neighborhood took their best-selling inventory and hauled it to the Upper West Side just in time for the holidays. Expect 1,600-square feet of charming and quirky candles, party supplies, gourmet foods and gadgets, unique pet items, candy, sock monkeys, art kits, eco-cleaning supplies, glassware, and more stocking stuffers than Santa could carry.
Where: 2408 Broadway (between 88th and 89th Sts.)
When: Tues.-Sat. 11AM-7PM; Sun. 12-6PM
Lionel Trains' Bryant Park Holiday Shop Now even bigger than last year, the 2010 Lionel Trains' Holiday Shop is showcasing greater and more intricately modeled displays. Dozens of electrified miniature locomotives roll past customers as they examine the latest in model trains for engineers of all ages. Other displays are specifically designed for curious small hands to explore. Employees are happy to answer questions about starting and maintaining your own collection, and limited-edition items like T-shirts and plush make cute, low-cost souvenirs.
Where: 1095 Sixth Ave. (at 41st St.)
When: Mon.-Sat. 11AM-7PM; Sun. 12-5PM
What a great guide! I love this time of year especially for all the cool designers and pop up shops that take advantage of the shopping season. I always look forward to the holiday markets. It's slightly sad to see them go so soon!