A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at www.creativejuicy.com
Published May 12th 2011
With a countless number of stores in a myriad sizes, shapes and styles, New York is a shopping mecca, far removed from the monotony of mall shopping. The wonderful thing about a New York shopping experience is not just the amount and variety of what you can buy, but the intriguing experiences involved.
I'd like to show you some of New York's best bargains as opposed to the most decadent splurges to highlight the manic, the unusual, the extreme and the niche experiences of shopping in the Big Apple.
For pure, uptown sophistication and downright over-the-top snobbery, nothing beats a trip to this luxury retail outlet. As a keen photographer, I look forward with much anticipation each year to the holiday season window displays which are nothing short of superb.
If you think of Bergdorf's as a museum of luxury, rather than a retail store you'll enjoy your Bergdorf experience more. If you do go in, make sure you go to the seventh floor and see the mazelike collection of extravagant decor items including taxidermy animals, breathtaking flower arrangements and sample fine French Chocolates.
NOTE: Bergdorf's, opened in 1928 was formerly the mansion of Cornelius Vanderbuilt. Yes. The whole building.
With a little more of a "plebian" feel than Bergdorf's, somehow you can feel more at home at Bloomingdale's. In fact one of my dear friends practically grew up at Bloomies as her father worked there for 40 years. The gorgeous art deco building is one of my favourite photographic models.
The store has the medium to high end merchandise, but the great thing is that it also houses numerous great eateries like 40 Carrots. It's not unusual to see customers lining up for cups of coffee and tart, and its famous yoghurt since before the word "Pinkberry" was invented. You simply have to buy something at Bloomies so that you can walk out with a little, medium, or big Brown Bag.
Right up there with the upscale Madison Avenue exclusive stores is Barneys. Its emphasis on cutting edge designers gives you the feeling you're getting a gllimpse of the latest styles before they go mainstream. You'll know where to go if you ever want to own a pair of Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo's. But make sure you take at least $1,000 with you.
Originally though, Barneys was located on 17th Street, and word has it that downtown residents have never forgiven the store for snubbing them.However, Barneys does have a 'casual' department located at 236 West 18th Street between 7th & 8th Ave, called "The Co-Op", which they say is "always downtown, even when it's uptown".
Location: 660 Madison Avenue
Regular store hours: Mon-Fri: 10am-8pm. Sat: 10am-7pm. Sun: 11am-6pm
First, lets define a "sample sale". The term originally meant merchandise that designers used to show their collection to buyers and owners of retail stores. At the end of a season, these would usually would be sold at wholesale prices - though with limited pieces and sizes. Today, many of these designers have taken this one giant step forward... Stock Sales. After a manufacturer has shipped their merchandise to their stores, there is usually inventory leftover. This leftover merchandise is often supplied to stores at savings from 50% to 80% below retail prices.
This large warehouse in the Garment District gets new merchandise all year round from a wide range of well-known labels like Theory, Tocca, J.Crew and many many others. Their website is great and has all the upcoming sales.
Location: 261 W 36th Street (between 7th & 8th Ave) 2nd Floor
Back to Barneys - twice a year, in February and August, Barney opens its warehouse to the public and sells off remaining stock from that season at incredibly discuonted price. So if you happen to be in Chelsea at 7.30 in the morning on the day of the sale, you'll find throngs of poshly dressed women lined up around the block in wait.
It may just be a way to get those Manolo's after all.
While not strictly a sample store, Century 21 is a department store where the merchandise is half the price it would be at other department stores. Visitors to New York will have a jaw-dropping shopping experience with labels like Prada, Champs, Fruit of the Loom, Levi - in fact more brand names than you could poke a credit card at. Shoes, accessories, homeware, manchester...it's all there in 6 heavenly levels. Beware, you will need most of a day to take it all in.
Another amazing discount department store on three levels. With 60% off regular department store prices, this is a shopping mecca like Century 21. The entire top floor is devoted to coats in every shape, size, fabric and style. They have a terrific shoe department - my favourite place to buy boots. You will need another entire day to shop here.
I definitely love the splurge stores, but as far as bargain shopping, century 21 is pretty amazing. It's not one of those stores that sells ugly or damaged items that no one wants -- I got some really great deals on beautiful items whenever I went.
By L.R. - senior writer Friday, 20th of May @ 10:59 pm
I know - how fantastic is it. I do love Burlington Coat Factory too though, and I generally reserve a whole day for looking around there. You should go there for the post Christmas sales - it's insane how many bargains you can pick up. I'll certainly be amongst the crowds this year.
By Dora Bona - senior reviewer Friday, 20th of May @ 11:15 pm