New York shop Love Adorned's front window display — Photo courtesy of Love Adorned
New Yorkers tend to complain that big box stores and a dizzying number of chains are quickly overtaking their bubble of uniqueness. Where there used to be a mom-and-pop shop, now sits a 7-Eleven; where once was a record store, now there’s a bank.
But fortunately, the constant turnover and openness to experimentation – of trying and failing, and then trying again – is what keeps New York’s shopping culture booming.
The trick these days is to look past the overtly touristy parts of town and into other neighborhoods where retailers have no problem pushing the boundaries.
A buyer surveys yarn at Purl Soho — Photo courtesy of Hobvias Sudoneighm
Lori Leven – native New Yorker and owner of Love Adorned, a meticulously curated fine jewelry and lifestyle store in trendy Nolita – says NYC has been and always will be one of the best shopping cities in the world.
“The reason for this is multi-faceted: for one, it is a city that celebrates individuality and fearlessness, so young people are willing to take the chance on opening small boutiques in emerging neighborhoods,” she explains.
“Secondly, New York is a city that everyone with a passport will eventually visit, and people come here with the idea that the shopping is good and they are going to do it! And lastly, because we are so ethnically diverse, it will forever be an interesting place to look for worldly goods.”
It’s ridiculous to think that just because Starbucks has set up residence that all of the good shopping is dead. From high-end uptown stores to the chic boutiques dotting downtown's streets, New York shopping is anything but stagnant. And it only takes scratching the surface to see that.
A sneak peek at jewelry from Love Adorned — Photo courtesy of Love Adorned
However, that’s not to say savvy shoppers' strategies have stayed the same. As chains moved in, smaller retailers moved out, often to quieter parts of town, and even across the river.
“Of course, Nolita and Soho in downtown Manhattan are prime shopping, and if I want luxury, Madison Avenue north of Barneys has all the important things I’m looking for,” says Leven. “But recently, I was really surprised to find out how developed the retail on Franklin Street in Greenpoint is, especially considering it isn’t the easiest to get to.”
Leven’s discovery illustrates exactly why shopping in New York is just as much about adventure as it is about spending cash: New York won’t hand you what you’re looking for without a little legwork.
Instead, it’s a city that makes you constantly seek out the magic before you’re rewarded. Once you realize that and choose to accept the challenge to start exploring, there’s no doubt you’ll quickly discover your own version of treasure.