Guide to Budget Shopping in New York City

Woman Shopping in NYC

Vacationing and shopping in New York City are almost synonymous, if you think about it. Everyone likes to pick up pieces of proof from their travels.  If your souvenir collection consists of pieces of clothing, inspirational art, delectable eats, or high-dollar, once-in-a-while purchases, you don’t always have to spend most of your vacation budget to feel as if you stole a gem. Shopping is more than splurging on the latest trends that ultimately make any traveler feel as if they captured a piece of the journey.  In a way, they serve as subliminal souvenirs from a completely content part of an adventurist’s trek.  So, if you plan on shopping in New York City, there is no need to be scared of your wallet taking the plunge.

There are plenty of options in New York City that, without a doubt, defeat the supposed unrivaled shopping of the famous Fifth Avenue. The key is figuring out where to go and how to capitalize your vogue experience!  The best way to capture a true budget shopping experience is to gather an understanding of the loop holes in the process which absolutely include these three things: off-price retail stores, sample sales, and shopping beyond the Fifth. No worries, happy traveler, because as mundane and unsexy as these things sound, we know the right way to make them honestly lux—leaving admirers in awe.

New York ShoesJust because many yearn to shop at high-end premier designer stores, doesn’t mean they all have to be from this other realm of divine luxury many of us call Fifth Avenue. After all, Chanel is Chanel in New York, Paris, London, and Milan, right? So why not enjoy the experience of shopping on the Fifth, then indulge in discount stores. Most travelers believe s souvenir has to be from the place the trek was taken. That is not necessarily true. It’s the experience that one receives during the visit that ultimately makes the souvenir worthwhile. Overwhelmed at the thought of over-the-top professional sales people at the latest and greatest design houses? Don’t worry! Take the time to look around the Fifth, indulge in a complimentary glass of champagne, and try it all on. Make sure to show the sales force your interest in particular pieces by posing questions such as cut, style, and designer. Remember to make them feel important by making it an educational and delightful experience for you. Then, once you have politely declined the purchase and thanked them for their time, you can venture your wallet to the off-price buy. By doing so, you can eliminate higher prices and know exactly what it is you want when you visit places like Loehmann’s. Often, the avid fashionista hears the rumor that off-price retailers only sell past season styles. Although this belief can be deep-rooted, it is not always true. Forecasting is just as much a process for off-price buyers as it is for private design houses. The only difference here lies in the negotiating approach to understanding which in season products will be in excess at a private house.

New York Shopping BagsBuying off-price is only the first important loop hole. Not quite feeling the shabby chic of a bargain basement? Then know that the budget fashionista can always get the exact styles through sample sales. Sample sales are the average budget’s window to luxury shopping. Keep in mind that sample sales often have a competitive atmosphere which is the only downside. A lot of questions arise when it comes to sample sales—many of which are: have they been worn before or do the garments only come in “sample” sizes? The answers are simple. Sample sales provide retailers with a venue to sell excess merchandise from particular collections. Even though industry standard samples sizes run at Size 6 (truthfully a “regular” Size 2), sample sales simply mean that only one or two of a particular garment is sold at the particular event in sizes that typically run from regular sizes 2-8.  If you are thinking pre-owned, then think again!  The garments have only been worn during photo shoots to promote the clothing or during different vendor promotions, but the garments have never been owned by anyone but the design house. There are plenty of useful resources out there that can guide you to the right sample sales in your preferred areas.  In New York City, the top guides for public sample sales just short of you actually calling a design house are print publications and online style guides. Time Out magazine or New York magazine – perhaps the best source for sample sale listings—have weekly columns that feature the best major and minor shopping events for that week. Be sure to check out styles, trends, and sample sale lists on sites like SheFinds.com to find a list of sample sales in the Big Apple and beyond. You can also use these resources to go to various trunk shows at retailers outside the Fifth such as the amazingly chic boutiques in Greenwich Village or Brooklyn. Be sure to stroll down Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue where the streets are lined with budget friendly boutiques that have equally, if not better, styles. If you are in to the more eclectic styles of fashion, Greenwich Village’s is overcrowded with boutiques off of or around 8th Street!

Regardless of how you decide to shop, remember that if you are on a budget you should always know where you are going and already have a plan of action in mind. After all, the secret in explaining your style when people ask “Where did you get that?” is by redirecting and explaining “It’s Chanel” or whoever designer’s masterpiece you bought. No one has to know where you got it from. Just that you look fabulous in it! Remember to use this experience just as you would when visiting local museums by absorbing as much information as you can and having only the most pleasurable experience. Happy shopping!