After eating and drinking, shopping is the other activity you could do in New York literally until you dropped. It’s pretty obvious even before you step foot in your first city apartment that there are plenty of stores all over to find anything you need. Use the info below to avoid spending half your life and half your income in NYC stores (although, the latter may be unavoidable). And while you might think of the city as the place to spend your money on the fun stuff like clothes, shoes, etc., you will have to save some money for the necessities of everyday life (you know, like toilet paper). Shopping in the city requires a slightly different approach than suburban life, which is covered too.
How to shop for everyday essentials like a New Yorker:
1. In the suburbs, you might have been one of the shoppers that loads a ton of groceries into your car and took multiple trips (or one, if you’re that cool) into your house. This is impossible in the city, mostly because I doubt you have a car. If you go to actual grocery stores for most of your shopping, then make smaller trips. You will curse the streets if you try to bring home more than a week’s worth of groceries at once.
2. But, for most of your groceries, USE FRESH DIRECT. See Grocery for the many good reasons why.
3. Same goes for toiletries and drug store items. Soap.com is a site that allows you to buy these types of things and have it delivered to your door overnight. The only downside is that you need to spend $40 to get free shipping, but you can make it work if you do sporadic orders. Otherwise, plan accordingly. This may mean more frequent Duane Reade trips, but luckily, I hear they’re pretty common.
4. Outside the city, there are usually Targets/K-Marts/Walmarts within a reasonable distance from you. In Manhattan, we have one Target (two, if you count the one in the Bronx… which some people consider to be close enough), no Wal-Marts, and two K-Marts (although the one on 34th street is a mini version of Hell aka the most confusing store layout in the world). Again, the “don’t carry too much stuff” rule applies.
5. Since you can’t/don’t want to break your arms carrying tons of bags, this is where online shopping comes in. Since moving to the city, I have placed more online orders than I ever have in my life. All those stores have great websites, and the convenience is well worth the shipping costs. Amazon will also be your best friend. (Hint: use this site to make sure you get your free super saver shipping- http://www.filleritem.com)
Big chain stores
You can always find your basic chain stores anywhere in the city. There are way more locations jammed into a small area than anywhere else in the country, so if you need a GAP, it’s pretty much a no brainer that you’ll find one. A bonus of living in New York, though, is that you’ll find a lot of the flagship stores of these chains here. That pretty much just means the stores are bigger and have more merchandise for you to buy, but it’s always nice to have a bigger selection!
Flagship stores in Manhattan: http://retailindustry.about.com/od/technologyinnovations/a/flagshipstores_2.htm
Other flagship stores in Manhattan: GAP (53rd & 5th), Old Navy (34th and 7th), UGG (79 Mercer St), H&M (51st & 5th ave), Apple (58th & 5th), Macy’s (34th st, 7th ave to Broadway), Bloomingdale’s (59th & Lexington)
Luxury flagship stores: http://www.nycgo.com/articles/luxury-flagship-shopping
These are all over the city. Smaller, more unique stores pack Soho, the Village, and the Lower East Side (thrift store heaven, outside of Brooklyn). You can find more pricey, but cute stores up and down the avenues on the Upper East Side as well The best way to find stores like these are to walk around your neighborhood and see what you find.
Scoop NYC: http://www.scoopnyc.com/
Laila Rowe: http://lailarowe.com/
A more extensive list:
Big discount clothing stores
Century 21 (Financial District location and new Upper West Side location): Everything you could possibly want is here. Everything. Designer clothes/accessories at super discounted prices.
DSW (Union Square): Huge selection of shoes at discounted prices
Nordstrom Rack (Union Square): The Nordstrom outlet… also the closest thing to Nordstrom you will get in Manhattan.
Gabay’s (East Village): Designer merchandise from high end department stores at discounted prices.
TJ Maxx (Multiple locations): Discount chain store has Upper West Side, Chelsea, and Midtown locations.
Syms (Multiple locations): Discounted clothing for men, women, and children.
Buffalo Exchange (Multiple locations): The easiest place to sell your clothes; if they like it, they take it and give you store credit or cash. If they don’t, you can donate it. Also some good finds if you browse through their racks. They are super picky (due to the massive amount of donations they get), so don’t plan to walk away with a huge amount of cash.
Housing Works (Multiple location): You can find anything and everything here from clothing to accessories to housewares.
Vintage Thrift (286 3rd ave): A true vintage thrift store (so the name is really appropriate). Items are in great condition. Proceeds go to United Jewish Council, which services seniors on the Lower East Side.
What Goes Around Comes Around (351 West Broadway): High end men and women’s vintage or contemporary brands.
More thrift/consignment store ideas:
East River Plaza: Target, Old Navy, Costco, Best Buy, Verizon, and more. Definitely worth the occasional trip, but prepare to pay for a cab back (or bring someone very strong to carry the stuff, it is LONG trek from the train). Located at 116th st & Pleasant Ave.
Manhattan Mall: In case you really miss the mall experience, you can find it at 33rd & 6th. Otherwise, not something you’d go out of your way to visit.
Time Warner Center: Upscale stores, upscale restaurants. Bonus= Whole Foods! Located at Columbus Circle (59th street & 8th ave/Broadway)
South Street Seaport Mall: Mostly full of small, souvenir stores. Also with a Bath and Body Works and an Express. Located at the South Street Seaport (11 Fulton St.)