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Shopping in New York

New York shopping is a nonstop eye-opener, from the pristine couture houses flanking Madison Avenue to quirkier shops downtown. No matter which threshold you cross, shopping here is an event. For every bursting department store there's an echoing, minimalist boutique; for every familiar national brand there's a secret local favourite. The foremost American and international companies stake their flagships here; meanwhile, small neighbourhood shops guarantee unexpected pleasures. National chains often make their New York branches something special, with unique sales environments and exclusive merchandise.
For most New Yorkers, shopping is a way of life. You don't shop when you need something, you shop all the time, and somehow one shop always leads to another. Manhattan is a place for wandering. New boutiques are constantly springing up, even on streets that were deserted just weeks before. Manhattan's must-hit shopping neighbourhoods concentrate their temptations, sometimes with boutiques in nearly every address on a block, so you can easily spend a couple of hours walking and browsing.


Lower Manhattan & The Financial District

South Street Seaport carries the neighbourhood's torch. Familiar names like Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor and the Sunglass Hut line Fulton Street, the Seaport's main cobbled drag; several tiers of largely nondescript shops and a large food court fill the levels at Pier 17, a waterfront barge-turned-shopping mall. There's nothing here you can't get anywhere else in Manhattan; come for the historic ambience and the wonderful harbour views.

Century 21, the king of discount department stores, is across the street from the World Trade Center site. Electronics megamart J&R is still going strong, now occupying a full city block, with great prices on everything from cameras and computers to CDs and software.


Don't expect to find the purchase of a lifetime on Chinatown's crowded streets, but there's some quality browsing. The fish and herbal markets along Canal, Mott, Mulberry and Elizabeth streets are fun for their bustle and exotica. Dispersed among them, you'll find a mind-boggling collection of knockoff sunglasses and watches, backpacks, leather goods and exotic souvenirs. It's a fun browse, but don't expect quality and be sure to bargain before you buy.

Mott Street, between Pell Street and Chatham Square, boasts the most interesting of Chinatown's off-Canal shopping, with an antiques shop or two dispersed among the tiny storefronts selling blue-and-white Chinese dinnerware. Just around the corner, peek into Ting's Gift Shop, one of the oldest operating businesses in Chinatown. Under a vintage pressed-tin ceiling, it sells good-quality Chinese toys, kits, and lanterns.

The Lower East Side

The bargains aren't what they used to be in the Historic Orchard Street Shopping District, which basically runs from Houston to Canal along Allen, Orchard, and Ludlow streets, spreading outward along both sides of Delancey Street, but prices on leather bags, shoes, luggage, linens and fabrics on the bolt are still good. Be aware, though, that the hard sell on Orchard Street can be hard to take. Still, the district is a nice place to discover a part of New York that's disappearing.

The artists and other trendsetters who have been turning this neighbourhood into a bastion of hip have also added a cutting edge to its shopping scene in recent years. You'll find a growing crop of alternative shops south of Houston and north of Grand Street, between Allen and Clinton streets to the east and west, specialising in up-to-the-minute fashions and edgy club clothes for 20-somethings, plus funky retro furnishings, Japanese toys and other offbeat items.

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