Travel, "New York: Retail's the Game - Shopping Manhattan, Brooklyn like a Pro," by Christopher Muther, photos by Joe Tabacca, October 16, 2011.
It was difficult to hide my shock and disdain. In the middle of Manhattan, I asked my friend Laura the innocuous question “Where do you want to go shopping?” Here’s a savvy and fun friend who will certainly be ready for a retail adventure, I thought.
“Well, I really want to go to the M&M’s store in Times Square,” she said slowly as she carefully weighed her options. “I know they also have a huge Sephora there as well.”
I didn’t intend to yell — we were standing on a sidewalk in Hell’s Kitchen — but I couldn’t help myself.
I barked, “I can get M&Ms from the vending machine at work! That’s really where you want to go?’’ Then I realized that at one time I was also intimidated by the thought of leaving the familiarity of Midtown to visit any of the thousands of independent boutiques in what I then considered the exotic boroughs. Multiple trips and tasteful (and not so tasteful) New York friends have since steered me in new directions.
I felt obligated to help Laura (last name withheld to protect her dwindling reputation). After stopping at a convenience store and buying her a bag of M&M’s (I have some compassion) I started dragging her around Manhattan and Brooklyn on a very muggy Saturday afternoon, making our way into retail-heavy neighborhoods. Eventually our tired feet forced us to stop, so I spent time compiling a list of shops for Laura for future trips, relying on advice from friends, particularly the suggestions of my shopaholic friend Peter Reyes.
What follows is a highly subjective list of favorites heavily skewed to my tastes, so no “You left out…” emails. However, I’m always open to suggestions — as long as they don’t include M&M’s.
HOME AND GIFT
Abode New York: I am an insatiable design junkie, so walking into Abode was a bit like reliving a dream I once had that involved a dark room, Charles Eames, Lotta Jansdotter, and a can of whipped cream. Even before I entered, I spotted a 1970s Canadian chair that recently went back into production perched invitingly in the window. There are kitchen accessories, modern furniture, removable wall coverings, and lots of other things I would love to procure for my own abode.