Shopping, in the US is the single most important and obsessive activity for people (I guess apart from sex!). It is almost a religion in itself! And place of worship of this “religion’ would be the malls, department stores, exclusive showrooms and boutiques.
For an outsider it is very easy to get submerged in the deluge of stores, products, deals, coupons, sale et al. But a little groundwork could make you ease your way through this jungle. And let me tell you – it is a wonderful jungle indeed!
The best place to start would be the Mall of the area you are visiting. This would give you a bird’s eye view of the latest trends, fads and sale going on – all under one roof. It would also afford the opportunity to compare prices, check out the best and expensive as well as the cheaper items. Its like you have everything under one roof. You might find an item in store A is more expensive than the similar/same item in store B. This does happen, especially when there is a sale going on in one and not in the other. So go around, almost like a reconnaissance. Once you are clear about the goods available and how the price and utility fits you, you can go ahead and buy it. Reduces the after purchase remorse! Especially, when you have come as a tourist and have limited time. But otherwise, the return policies in most outlets are good – ranges from 15 days to 3 months and in some cases 6 months, depending on the product. NYC provides shopping experience to match all budgets – from the really discounted shopping in Chinatown, Flushing etc. to the most exclusive experiences in Upper East Side, 5th Ave. etc.
Sale & Clearance in New York City
The best deals available, amongst other days, are during Thanksgiving (last Thursday of November), the days before Christmas (December), before Valentine (which falls on 14th February), before Columbus day (2nd Monday of october), before Independence day (14th July). Apart from these, each store / outlet has sale/clearance days often. The clearance after New Year is one of the best. You get very good deals on winter clothes, disc threads et al.
Malls in New York
In New York City there are numerous malls. Some of them are given below –
1) Manhattan Mall – 6th Ave and 33rd Street
2) South Street Seaport – 12 Fulton Street
3) Trump Tower – Columbus Circle?
4) Queens Center – 90-15 Queens Blvd.
5) Kings Plaza Shopping Center & Marina – 5100 Kings Plaza, Brooklyn
6) Staten Island Mall – 2655 Richmond Avenue
7) Newport Mall – Jersey City
8) Jersey Gardens – outlet mall
Some of the shopping areas in Manhattan include –
1) Garment District
5) East Village
6) Greenwich Village
7) Financial District
8) Gramercy Park
9) Meat Packing District
10) South Street Seaport
11) Union Square
13) Upper West Side
14) Upper East Side
Some of the stores found in the malls are –
Aldo, Arden B. New York & Company, Sunglass hut,
Ann Taylor, Avenue , Banana Republic,
Barnes & Noble, Bloomingdale’s, Brooks Brothers,
Calvin Klein, Charlotte Russe, Claire’s Boutique,
Coach, Coach, D & G, David’s Bridal, Dick’s Sporting Goods,
Forever 21, Fortunoff, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Gap,
Golf Galaxy, H&M, J. Crew, JC Penny, Kohls, Lane Bryant,
Le Chateau, Lids, Lola, Macy’s, Motherhood Maternity,
Neiman Marcus, Nordstorm Rack, Lord & Taylor,
Off 5th – Saks 5th Ave, Pay half, Polo Ralph Lauren,
Sears, Steve & Barry’s, Strawberry, Swarovski Crystal,
Tommy Hilfiger, Victoria’s Secret, Wet Seal,
New York City Shopping – 34th street, 6th to 7th Avenue
The 34th street area from 5th Avenue to 8th Avenue is a shopping area in Midtown, Manhattan which caters to almost all segments. It has stores of branded high end merchandise to discount stores. This falls under the Garment district, a neighborhood located between 5th and 9th Avenues and 34th street and 42nd street.
This area (Herald Square) is a shopper’s must visit place. Some of the stores that can be visited here apart from the mall and Macy’s are
Old Navy, Payless Shoes (shoes for which you actually pay less!), Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Forever 21, Convey (clothes just couldn’t get cheaper than this store!), Sephora (perfumes and cosmetics), Jack’s 99¢ (the indispensible dollar shop which carries everything from bathroom fixture to safety pins) etc.
34th street is well connected by the subway, LIRR and long distance Amtrak trains. The latter two are on the 7th Avenue side while subway (Metro) stations are at almost all corners. (Refer Map). The Manhattan mall is connected to the subway (Metro) so one can alight here and start the shopping experience from here. There are number of stores in the mall worth visiting.
Of course no blue blooded shopper would be satisfied with these stores alone. So head outside – coming out of the main entrance you would be standing on 6th avenue. Walk left along 6th Av., you would reach Macy’s on 34th street and Broadway (Broadway cuts across 6th Av. Here). On the way, before reaching Macy’s you would cross Bank of America (withdraw cash if you want), Hat and Cap which has a cool collection of head gear and Ts, Modell’s which no sports fan can ignore, Mrs. Field’s cookies (a must-try), Lush (handmade cosmetics), the Herald Center which has Staples and Daffy’s. After Daffy’s at the corner, you can cross over to Macy’s and the huge banner will declare and it would be impossible for you to miss it. So, here is the largest Store in the World! It covers the entire stretch up till 7th Av.
Beyond Macy’s, on the 35th street and Broadway corner is Conway where some of the very cheap clothing and accessories are available.
Opposite Macy’s, across Broadway, on 6th Avenue is Victoria’s Secret – the famous lingerie and inner wear store.
Between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue-
On 34th street, across Macy’s are –
At The corner of 34th and 6th Av. At the Herald Center is Daffy’s, the apparel store. A lot of stock- racks and racks of clothes, latest fashion but low priced – characterizes this store. The store entrance is also through Herald Center which has Journey’s and staples apart from Daffy’s.
Next comes Journey’s, a store of apparels, shoes and accessories for young men and women and also for children. They have a scheme whereby one can pay in installments called “bill me later”.
Next is Diamonds & Dials, a diamond jewelry store.
This is a good option if you are just looking to increase your shoe collection without caring about expensive brands and their snob value.
Buying comfortable sporty foot wear couldn’t get easier. This store is the lady Footlocker. You can get Nike, Addidas, Puma, Reebok et a.
After the Sprint and Cliquers stores you would next come to Sephora. This Paris based store carries over 250 brands of cosmetics and fragrances, skin and bath products.
Next is a Verizon (mobile service providers) outlet. After that comes Kay Jewelers. They have a whole range of jewelry – starting from low priced fashion jewelry (starting from $40) to three stone diamond rings and solitaires ($13k). Kay also has watches – Bulova, Movado, Citizen etc. Varied gems viz. rubies, garnet, emeralds, topaz etc. are available.
Next comes Skechers. If you want fashionable and trendy pair of footwear this is the place. The collection is good. Skechers caters to the entire family with sneakers, boots, sandals, dress shoes and casual shoes for men and women and for kids as well.
After Skechers there is Zales. Zales is a specialty retailer of fine jewelry with over 2200 retail outlets in North America under the brand names Zales Jewelers, Zales Outlet (value priced fine jewelry).
After Zales is Old Navy store. This covers four floors and has huge stock for women, men, kids and also accessories. Upon entry from 34th street, it’s the women’s segment. Good for trendy casuals and seasonal wears.
After this there are some eateries including Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut and Tad’s Steak.
This is another chain catering to trendy and low priced clothing for men, women, teens and children.
On the left, the entire block is occupied by Macy’s. After H&M and the corner subway station entrance, across the street is Footaction. Across 7th Av. on the Macy’s side, are Citibank (with ATM), another Conway store and further down are cafes and eateries viz. Starbucks, Hale & Hearty Soup, Burger King etc. Burger King also has Internet access facilities. Next to it is a Photo shop. Opposite are Garden café and Au bon pain.
Shopping in Manhattan, New York City – 34th Street, 7th Ave. to 8th Ave.
Continuing on 34th street across 7th Avenue, there are more stores/shops one can check out. This section between the 7th and the 8th Avenues has mostly discount stores and souvenir shops. On the left, after the Subway and LIRR station entrance is Garret Popcorn. The popcorn sold here are unbelievably delicious – there’s the caramel favored and cheese flavored ones. It is a must try. After that comes Kmart, a department store with low prices and stocks clothes, accessories, watches, games, electronics, home products, appliances and such other things found in department stores. Next is Famous Footwear. This store has almost all brands of shoes one can think of, for the entire family. Some of the brands include Adidas, Reebok, Naturalizer, Dr. Scholl’s, Nike, Rockport, Skechers, Steve Madden, Timberland, MUDD, Aerosoles, Clarks England, Florsheim, Guess, Nautica, Puma, Tommy Hilfiger, Heely’s, Nine West et al. It’s the whole gamut of shoe brands under one roof. Shoe addicts would generally not be disappointed here. Further down on this side one would get Starbucks (yep, they are all over the place – so you are never more than a few feet away from coffee!) and in the corner Duane Reade.
On the right, the 7th Av. and 34th street corner starts with Citibank followed by Starbucks. There a number of small shops selling souvenirs, bags, accessories, clothes, trinkets etc. These have the “meant for tourist” look to it. Most are low priced (for e.g. bags/purses at $10) and the quality/design is also commensurate to the price! Further down on the same side, three separate spaces are occupied by Conway (one is Conway for Men). Just racks and racks of low priced clothes. Next there is a Burger King with Internet Access facilities. After a couple of food / take out joints there is Bagman. Bagman offers assorted stuff, clothes, bags, tacky decorative lights, cappuccino cup sets, accessories (just to give an idea). The stock is as varied as tacky as cheap. Dirt cheap. Further down are TGI Friday’s and Payless at the corner of 8th Ave. and 34th street.
Shopping in 34th Street, 5th to 6th Avenue, Manhattan, New York City
Continuing from 34th street and Broadway corner towards 5th Avenue would take one on another stretch of Manhattan shopping bliss along with some sight seeing opportunity – the Empire State building is on this stretch though the main entrance is from 5th avenue. This is a busy stretch with lot of office going New Yorkers, shoppers and tourists.
Starting with Victoria’s Secret in the left corner,
a place where women (and am sure men too!) could spend quite some time browsing through and deciding on endless numbers of lingerie. It is however more expensive here than, say, in a JC Penny or Frederick’s of Hollywood. Next is
Next is H&M with reasonably priced apparel and accessories – a personal favorite more because of the company than the merchandise. H&M is one of the most animal and environment friendly organizations. After H&M is Footlocker.
Further down is Banana Republic, Aldo and Shoe Mania. On the same side is located Lane Bryant (plus-sized apparel), Express (trendy clothes for women), BEBE (trendy, sexy, sporty attire for young women) and Bakers shoes (good choices). At the corner is Duane Reade (now Walgreens), the ubiquitous NYC drugstore (convenience store).
On the opposite (right) side starting from 6th Av. towards 5th Av direction, the stores include GAP in the corner followed by Forever 21. Then after a souvenir shop is American Eagle Outfitters. Further down is Aerosoles and some more souvenir shops and Sbarro (pizza, salad etc.). Next is Empire State Building. There are number of stores in the street level of the building. The prominent ones being Men’s Wearhouse and Strawberry. Bank of America, Chipotle (Mexican Grill) and Heartland Breweries (known for their house brews and beer samplers) come next. Thereafter you reach 5th Avenue.
Macy’s – Shopping in Manhattan
One of the most easily accessible shopping places – both from New York and New Jersey, this is a popular haunt for shoppers from all over. There are a number of entrances for this block long store – viz. Broadway, 7th Ave., 34th st., 35th st. Entering from the main Broadway entrance one would encounter an array of counters for accessories including bags, belts, jewelry, etc. and cosmetics. On the right up a flight of stairs one can refresh with coffee and cake from Starbucks. Further down across the escalators is the section for perfumes. At the escalator point, the one leading below takes one to the “cellar”, kitchen items, restrooms, salad bars, Godiva and other chocolate section. The one leading above takes one to endless rows of women’s apparel. It is a matter of following the charts given in all floors which give floor wise details of products displayed. Macy’s have their locations at various places but this is the flagship store.
Macy’s Discount coupon for out-of-town visitors: If you are from out of state or country you can check with the customer service desk (it’s a little out of the way in the mezzanine) for discounts. For domestic visitors the discount is valid for 5 days whiles for international visitors it is valid for 30 days. For international visitors this savings card is available in Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Portuguese (apart from English). But one should go through the fine print given overleaf since the discounts may not apply to some of the brands. The continuity of this scheme can be checked at the Macy’s site.
Macy’s at 34th Street and Broadway, Herald Square, NYC
One can get almost any type of attire here – formal, casual, sports wear, gowns, outerwear et al. Its also kept brand wise – so if one has any preference it is easier to shop. There is also “Macy’s by Appointment”. This is a free service which helps one to shop as per taste, budget and requirement. The store provides the personal-shopping staff. At times when one has something specific in mind, this is a good option since it is possible to get lost in this sea of apparel and other products. This service helps with wardrobe, gifts selection, shopping parties etc.There are few restaurants and cafes within the Macy’s premises.
About Macy’s- Founded in 1858 by Rowland H. Macy as a dry goods store in Massachusetts, today it is a chain of more than 850 stores spread in 45 states with revenue of over $27 billion. This mid-range department store has its flagship store in Herald Square in Manhattan, NYC which is slated to be largest store in the world. Other National flagship stores are in San Francisco and Chicago; Divisional flagship stores being in Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle. But to reach this enviable position this chain with humble beginnings has undergone numerous mergers and acquisitions and also changes in management.
1858 – Macy’s founded by R.H. Macy (initially it was at 14th street & 6th Av., then moved to 18th Street & Broadway)
1896 – R. H. Macy’s acquired by Isidor and Nathan Straus
1902 – Moves to Herald Square at 34th and Broadway.
1924-1931 – Additions and expansions leading the store to occupy almost the entire block. Currently this building is designated a National Historic Landmark.
1922 – Macy’s went public.
1920s – 1940s – numerous acquisitions including Davison-Paxon-Stokes, L.Bamberger & Co., John Taylor Dry Goods Co. These were named Macy’s. However later in 1986 the Midwest location stores were sold off.
1986 – 1988 – Edward Finkelstein (Chairman & CEO of Macy’s) led a leveraged buyout of the company. An attempt to takeover Federated Department Stores Inc. proves futile. Macy’s buys the California based divisions of Federated – Bullock’s, Bullocks Wilshire and I. Magnin.
1992 – Macy’s files for Bankruptcy. The banks bring in a new management. Non-performing stores are closed and Macy’s is divided into Macy’s East and Macy’s West.
1994- R.H. macy & Co. merges with Federated Department Stores. After merger another shake up happens where I.Magnin Chain is shut down, a number of California acquisitions are sold to Saks Fifth Avenue and several converted to Macy’s or Bullock’s.
Late 1990s – early 2000s – More acquisitions and sales and consolidations. Most of the acquisitions renamed “Macy’s”.
2005 – Federated acquired May Department. After this acquisition Federated renames all regional department stores of May as Macy’s though there was vehement objection to this from the locals.
2006 – Divests May’s Lord & Taylor.
2007 – Federated Department Stores name changed to Macy’s Inc. It continues to operate stores under Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.