New York is a prime spot for holiday shopping, in large part because of big department stores like Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, designer flagships that line the Upper East Side, and whatever hell awaits you in the Disney Store in Times Square. But true New Yorkers should avoid the major shopping hubs, and instead seek gifts and other goods in some of the city’s slightly less crowded and infinitely more interesting ‘hoods, including the many holiday markets and pop-up shops found across the five boroughs. Find our favorite neighborhoods for holiday shopping this season, ahead.
There’s a reason Williamsburg is often cited as the most stylish neighborhood in the city. There’s a lot of great shopping here for fans of haute. Thrift stores like Fox & Fawn, Monk Vintage, and 10ft Single by Stella Dallas offer incredible curated vintage finds at a fraction of their original price, and longtime North Brooklyn stalwart Beacon’s Closet still has a massive flagship in the area.
There is also a slew of boutiques, like In God We Trust and Concrete and Water, plus Williamsburg is home to Catbird, which specializes in fine (but affordable!) simple jewelry. Best of all, Williamsburg boasts some major holiday markets, including one of the biggest Artist & Fleas outposts in the city, with 75 sellers hawking unique crafts and local goods.
The West Village has something for everyone, from trendy designer flagships to quirky boutiques to famous record shops like Generation Records. For fans of vintage, there’s Madame Motavu; if you’ve got anglophiles in the family, British tea shop Tea & Sympathy sells teas, U.K.-themed china, and edible treats from across the pond. Other shops to check out include independent bookseller Three Lives & Company and Considerosity, a funky bookstore and gift shop that sells trinkets and cards.
My personal favorite holiday shopping spot is Strand Book Store, whose professed 18 miles of books is matched only by its hefty collection of literary tchotchkes and small gifts. Over the years, I’ve gifted friends and family everything from Michelle Obama coffee mugs to Sherlock Holmes dolls to a Beyoncé votive candle, and I’m sure I’ll be back this year to cop one of these “Nerd” totes for my sister. Strand aside, the East Village boasts great shops like accessory stalwart Fabulous Fanny’s, home goods store John Derian, and Obscura Antiques and Oddities, which is exactly how it sounds.
Soho’s stretch of Broadway is full of traditional retail spots, like Aritzia, Madewell, and a Bloomingdale’s outpost. Off of the main drag, though, there are a whole bunch of hidden gems, including curated jewelry shop Broken English Jewelry, funky boutique American Two Shot (which is, unfortunately, closing at the end of the year), and high-end craft store Purl Soho.
The neighborhood is also home to an outpost of the MoMa Design Store, where you can purchase prints, books, scarves, jewelry, and other art-themed gifts—note that MoMA members get a discount.
A neighborhood slightly off of the beaten holiday shopping path, Astoria’s full of funky mom-and-pop shops and gift spots. Take, for instance, the Astoria Bookshop, Queens’ only independent bookstore, where you can get good reads and games; HiFi Records, which hawks vintage and new vinyl; and a trio of Lockwood shops, where you can procure home furnishings, paper goods, and gifts. Sadly, Astoria’s former best gift store, the Little Soap Shop, moved out of the neighborhood a few years ago, though you can still pick up their soaps and the like in nearby Long Island City.
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side still has a reputation as one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods, a status all the more cemented by its collection of cool shops and boutiques. High fashion options include London-based jewelry retailer the Great Frog, women’s clothing shop 7115 by Szeki, and designer and vintage shop Assembly NY.
For funkier gifts, consider picking up tees and hoodies at streetwear shop the Good Company, subversive literature at collectively-owned radical bookstore Bluestockings, or experimental tapes and vinyl at music shop Commend.
Arthur Ave in the Bronx
If you’re looking to gift your loved ones with some extra-special edible treats, consider hitting up Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx, which is lined with mouthwatering Italian food specialty shops. Highlights include Casa Della Mozzarella, where you can get handmade cheese; Madonia Brothers Bakery, which produces fresh bread and cookies; and, of course, the Arthur Avenue retail market, which boasts dozens of merchant stands selling meats, cheeses, and other goodies. If you’re looking for a non-food item, consider hitting up La Casa Grande Cigars for some classic hand-rolled smokes.
Park Slope might seem synonymous with strollers and brownstones, but it’s also got a surprising number of quaint shops and boutiques ripe for holiday shopping. Some stores of note include the independent Community Bookstore, which sells adult and children’s books and has some cute cats to pet while you’re browsing; Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, which hawks knickknacks and cute gifts; Cog and Pearl, where you can find designer home decor and other goods; and Homebody Boutique, which is full of quirky tchotchkes, art, and decor.
Also of note: Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, which in addition to selling costumes, capes, and cans of chutzpah, houses and supports 826NYC, a literacy nonprofit that hosts writing workshops for local school kids.
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