Shopping in New York City: Soho and around

by shandana.durrani

The best places to shop in New York's coolest neighbourhoods


Just south of Houston Street on Broadway and clustered on smaller surrounding streets like Prince, Spring and Mercer, you’ll find the best concentration of shopping opportunities in Manhattan. Here, flagship emporiums like Prada and Louis Vuitton, mix with cheap chic high street-style spots and, while you may find some of these in other cities like London and Paris, the prices here are usually even better in US dollars, especially around the sale times in January and August.

The area is also known for one-stop New York specialty stores and fabulous smaller neighborhood designer boutiques. The bonanza may explain why around Christmas I see groups of Brits, Italians and French crowding the area. Apparently, they fly over with one empty case, just for the shopping hauls.

Start your itinerary on Broadway (in part because I find the bigger shops sap one’s energy quickly) at places like American Apparel (stores at 429 and 712; +1-212-226-4880;, where you can stock up on basics like t-shirts, sweatshirts and sexy underwear and swimsuits; Uniqlo (546 Broadway; +1-917 237-8811;, a Japanese transplant that has wonderful sweaters and tops at great prices as well as a good selection of jeans – I particularly like the skinny model; and Bloomingdales (504 Broadway; +1-212-729-5900; a smaller, more navigable space than the Midtown location, but with a good array of cosmetics, designer brands and lingerie.

Still on Broadway, Ricky’s (590 Broadway; +1-212-226-5552; is one of my must-stops for its terrific selection of beauty products like Mop and Bumble & Bumble hair lines and fun presents, including great fancy dress/Halloween costumes.

You’ll also find big name brands like H&M (558 Broadway; +1-212-343-2722;, Gap (528 Broadway; +1-212-431-2686;, New York’s Topshop flagship (478 Broadway; +1-212-966-9555; and Zara (580 Broadway; +1-212-343-1725; on this stretch. Further along, near Broome Street, is Scoop NYC (473-475 Broadway; +1-212-925-3539; with its chic handpicked collection for men and women. J brand, Citizens of Humanity, Missoni, Theory, Tory Burch and plenty of Diane von Furstenberg are among the lines they carry .

The side streets: Prince and Mercer

After you have trotted along Broadway for a bit and are tired of the crowds, head off to one of SoHo’s side streets like Prince, where you’ll find spots like the cult Apple Store (103 Prince Street; +1-212-226-3126; with its selection of iPhones, iPods, laptops and accessories at a serious discount compared to the prices in Europe – even if you aren’t in the market for electronics it’s a great place to check your email.

You'll also find American classics like Club Monaco (121 Prince Street; +1-212-533-8930;, a grown-up, but still fashionable chain where you can find stylish work clothes that are still relatively affordable and preppy J Crew (99 Prince Street; +1-212-966-2739; – I especially like their Crew Cuts line for kids, President Obama's daughters are often photographed in dresses from the collection.

Around the corner on Mercer, the Marc Jacobs store (163 Mercer Street; +1-212-343-1490; is always worth a look, even if you can’t afford the wares  and Kirna Zabete ((96 Greene Street; +1-347-694-4258;  is an inspiration – a cutting-edge designer shop. L’Wren Scott, Stella McCartney and Lanvin are among the brands stocked by former fashion editors who own the store, which explains why they are always ahead of the curve.

In this area of Soho, I also highly recommend APC (131 Mercer Street; +1-212-966-9685;, the French emporium with its hip but wearable women’s and men’s collections  and new American darling 3.1 Phillip Lim (115 Mercer Street; +1-212-334-1160;

Nolita (North of Little Italy)

You can’t leave the area without exploring the shops in Nolita (North of Little Italy), a wonderful and unique cluster of smaller boutiques east of Broadway along Prince, Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth streets.

For example, the fashionable shoes at Siegerson Morrison (28 Prince Street; +1-212-219-3893; are a New York woman’s staple and are less costly than brands like Jimmy Choo or Louboutin.

Steven Alan (229 Elizabeth Street; +1-212-226-7482; designs classic American men’s shirts in great prints and checks. For vintage and consignment items I always go to Ina (I found a beautiful Phillip Lim dress there recently for about 100 bucks) where fashionistas drop off loads of designer stuff after only one wear (21 Prince Street; +1-212-334-9048; and for funky one-offs Charlotte Ronson (her brother is famous DJ and music producer Mark Ronson), where I find sexy little dresses and fun shoes (239 Mulberry Street; +1-212-625-9074;

After all of the shopping you’ll need a little sustenance: Café Gitane (17 Prince Street; +1-212-625-2001) is a Nolita staple with a French-Moroccan menu and a beautiful crowd (242 Mott Street; +1-212-334-9552) or try the wonderful Café Habana, with Cuban favorites like a succulent Cuban sandwich, pulled pork and grilled corn.


I am a travel and lifestyle journalist based in New York City. I am the co-author of the travel guidebook, Insiders' Guide to New York City and the author of another travel guidebook, Day Trips from New York City, both published by the Globe Pequot Press. I was Cigar Aficionado magazine's Travel Editor for more than 10 years and have written travel pieces for Condé Nast Traveler, Haute Living, Silverkris,, and I have also contributed lifestyle stories to Wine Spectator, Glamour, and the New York Press.

I have lived in Manhattan's tony West Village for 16 years and have been a New York City resident since 1992. I have partied alongside celebrities at area hotspots, dined at the finest establishments in the world and slept in some of the city's best hotels, all in a day's work.

My New York

Where I always grab a bite: I love Bonsignour in the West Village. It's a tiny deli popular with locals and celebs that has the best gourmet salads this side of the Mississippi. During the summer, I head here for the homemade strawberry lemonade. The coffee is great, too.

My favorite stroll: Although Central Park is lovely, I prefer smaller parks such as Battery Park in Tribeca and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. You never have to jockey for space. I also adore the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It's one of my favorite places to walk around on summer afternoons. Head there in April for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

Fiction for inspiration: Here is New York, E.B. White's love letter to the city. "Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion." Truer words have never been spoken.

Summer sojourns: Long Beach. It's only 50 minutes by train from Manhattan and well worth the trip. The beach and water are clean and you won't be judged for a little flab like you would in some other beach towns *coughTheHamptonscough*

Most breathtaking view: The view of Manhattan from the Dumbo waterfront can't be beat. The bright lights sparkle and you usually have the space all to yourself. It's a great spot to bring a date. 

Best spot for quiet interludes: The little garden behind St. Lukes Parish in the West Village. I love to sit on a picnic blanket and read a good book here. I never hear the foot or car traffic. 

Shopaholics unite!: I like small, eco-friendly boutiques such as Kaight and Ecovaruhuset, both in Manhattan. For department stores, head to Queens or Brooklyn. The Century 21 in Queens has a great selection (I recently bought a pair of stone-colored Frye boots for less than US$200).

City on screen: New York has been on celluloid more than any other city in the world, and with good reason. I won't name the ubiquitous New York–centric Woody Allen movies. Hardly my favorites. I prefer Rear Window, Midnight Cowboy and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Check out James Sanders' Celluloid Skyline for additional films using New York as a theme.

Don’t leave without...Heading to Wave Hill near Riverdale in the Bronx. The public gardens are really phenomenal and the views of the Hudson bring peace of mind.