I like to joke that I live in the suburbs. The strollers, the families, the dogs. The big box stores like Staples and Barnes and Noble. Oh, and subways, and crowds, and apartments and doormen. See, I am an Upper West Sider. There is not a whole lot of cache to living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s where the families go. It’s relatively quiet after 10pm. If you’re a tourist, you probably wouldn’t come by. We do have Zabars, where bus loads of tourists stop in to get upscale deli food like smoked salmon, whitefish salad, and a huge variety of cheese and prepared foods. We have The American Museum of Natural History, which is a great place for families. We have Central Park and Riverside Park. And Lincoln Center on the southern end. But mostly, it’s residential, not a tourist magnet. You wouldn’t come here to shop.
And that would be a mistake.
You are in NY. Shop like a NYer, why don’t you? Not a chain store on the list.
Salumeria Rosi – Less known but no less delicious, this restaurant with a counter for purchases up front offers a vast array of – you guessed it – salamis – many of them housemade.
Jacques Torres Chocolates, right next door to Salumeria has the best Hot Chocolate in the city. And pretty fantastic chocolates, too.
Bakery Levain – Scone sized chocolate chip cookie cakes. ‘Nuff said.
Darryl’s – I admit to a bias here – I have been shopping at Daryl’s for more than 20 years. I bought when I was in college, and I still buy there now. Darryl has a great eye – price is less important than look – and he knows better than I do what will work on me. He’ll do the same for you. Personal service, small boutique vibe, and a nice, not –inexpensive but well-priced selection. Love.
Loehmann’s – this place such a NY institution that I’m always surprised when people haven’t heard of it. Discount discount discount. Men and women, and a small selection for baby to 6x. We are talking serious designers and serious bargains. The hand bags are fabulous.
Barney’s Coop – It isn’t Barney’s. It’s smaller, more manageable, less intimidating – and most importantly – less expensive. Not inexpensive. Not AT ALL. But still, you might be able to find something you can afford here from a new hot designer. And you won’t be intimidated by the staff and clients while you buy it. Plus, you’ll be able to say of whatever fabu thing you buy “I bought it at Barney’s.”
The Town Shop – another NY institution, and the best bra fitters in the business. If you’re shy – don’t come. But if you don’t mind showing your stuff to get a great fitting bra – this is THE place to go. I bought my very fist bra here. And so did just about every other New Yorker I know.
West Side Kids – Yes, there is a giant Toys R Us at Times Square. Who cares? You have a Toys R Us wherever you live, I’d bet. Try out this neighborhood gem, where they really help you pick out something fabulous, and where you’ll find things from lesser known, quality American and European toy manufacturers.
A Time for Children – A portion of proceeds from this lovely shop go to support the Children’s Aid Society. And the young staff are all teens being trained on how to run a business, do books, work with customers, etc. Add to that a well selected collection of clothing, books, toys and truly fabulous gifts for baby – with great prices and lots of little things you can just pick up – and you can’t miss.
Gracious Home – it’s expensive. I’ll admit it. But a lot of the time, it’s worth it. The service is great. They have everything for the home. And they will do whatever they can to help you, to get you what you need, to ship it, take it back, help you figure out what you mean when you say “You know – that thing, you know…the thing you use?” They’ll know.
Global Table – Incredibly affordable, super chic table ware, vases, bowls and more. This is a new addition to the Upper West side, and probably where I will buy all of my gifts for the next…forever.
And that’s not even talking about the shops at Columbus Circle, the independent boutiques that run the length of Columbus Avenue. Have fun. Stroll around. You might be the only tourist. And sometimes, that’s the best shopping of all.