Christmas Shopping? Forgo the Malls for Lower East Side

Maybe you like the idea of walking an endless stream of shops that basically all look the same, carry the same stuff, and never feeling like you got the “perfect” gift. If so, the malls are the perfect habitats for the scurrying, the pushing, the shoving, and grabbing any old thing when you hear the PA announcement that the mall is closing in ten minutes. Could be you’re addicted to scarfing down greasy egg rolls and mocha lattes in-between chain stores. If so, you’ll definitely not be interested in this little neighborhood huddled between Chinatown and the rest of the hustle and bustle of New York City.

If you are looking for the unique, the fab, and for that memorable gift, however, the Lower East Side could be your best kept secret.

Nestled between the traffic bustle of Allen St and the eclectic nightlife of downtown, there is a small area in the Lower East Side that boasts a wealth of shops under-appreciated by the discriminating consumer. Bunched up between Houston and Delancey St., there are three streets worth strolling. From high quality couture to a gourmet food, the Lower East Side or LES as its residents lovingly dubbed it covers all the bases without charging a huge fee. And for the cost of a Metrocard (especially now as the MTA is offering weekend fares at half price), you can avoid the parking lot sharking and the traffic for LES’ shops.

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ALLEN STREET:
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Jutta Neumann
158 Allen St. near Rivington St.
212-982-7048
http://www.juttaneumann-newyork.com/

Buttery soft leather handmade to any possible bag style you can dream up without paying the price of some logo-stamped chain store. But just because there’s no logo plastered all over the skin means it isn’t quality. The smooth tactile feel of the leather in rich earth tones tells of quality, handmade and unique so your bag isn’t a clone. Women will love the shoes all handmade as well.

Russ & Daughters
179 E. Houston St. bet Orchard and Allen Sts.
212-475-0345
http://www.russanddaughters.com/

For the foodie gourmet friend; primo smoked fish, dried fruit, olives and caviar in this family run shop reminiscent of Little Italy back in the heyday of the quintessential Italian markets which once run amuck old New York before Chinatown ate up the property. It’s amazing how much they can offer in this modest space. With decent prices and a surprisingly rich selection, they’re so decently priced (as they make all their own stuff), you’ll still have cash leftover to buy yourself something sweet, too.

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ORCHARD STREET:
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American Apparel
183 E. Houston St.
212-598-4600
http://www.americanapparel.net/

Despite it being a chain store, you can get some great deals on the basics: tees, skirts, tops and pants in rich color and high quality cotton. This particular store is a stand-out due to the fact it is open late, often up to midnight. Great stop for those last minute gifts when you still want to get something nice and not just a box of Russell Stovers.

Apollo Braun
193 Orchard Street (cnr of Houston)
212-726-8075
http://www.apollobraun.com

Unique pieces of clothing from tops to flirty skirts, often offering only a few pieces before they’re gone. Guess what? For a decent price, you got a great piece and won’t look like a clone wearing it. Favorite shop stop for rockers like Bjork and Britney Spears. Wear what the stars wear, without paying a fortune for them!

Breakbeat Science
181 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
212-995-2592
http://www.breakbeatscience.com/

A drum and bass store. Yup. You read it correctly. But don’t expect to be wandering into a collison course of Beethoven’s Fifth. This rocking shop carries unique vinyls of under-appreciated artists under their own label. Also some of the coolest graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts you can find.

Hello Sari
261 Broome St. near Orchard St.
212-274-0791

Gorgeous wraps, scarves, and sarongs in bold beautiful colors. Straight from India and Pakistan. Nothing like what you get in a cheaper quality version with the notorious street vendors.

Hudson Street Paper
149 Orchard St bet Stanton and Rivington St,
212-229-1064

Don’t discount their small size of a shop. This is a full-service stationary store with printing services, offering some unique stationary and invites. Gorgeous albums and journals; the best of the lot out there for some fun gift ideas. They also carry the beautiful Chelsea Notes and Miya & Me stationary for some whimsical notes and cards sending during the holidays.

Jelena Behrend Studio
188 Orchard St.
212-995-8497
http://www.jelenabehrendstudio.com/home.html

For that special someone without needing to put a second mortgage on your home. Unique styles of jewelry, all handmade in luxurious tones of copper, gold and silver.

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LUDLOW STREET:
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Foley + Corinna
114 Stanton St. near Ludlow St.
212-529-2338
http://foleyandcorinna.com/

Great vintage pieces for his & her. Great for casual and for evening, some really sharp pieces that just screams you’re a New Yorker style.

Fuck Yoga
132A Ludlow St.
212-995-9171
http://fuckyoga.com/

Despite the strongly termed storefront, this place provides some of the quirkiest and funny taglines on a shirt you would be proud to wear to your yoga class. Any stretching, meditating, yoga-go-er can appreciate the humor and the bit and raise eyebrows with their wear instead of your lotus poses.

Lost Shoe Productions
168 Ludlow Street
212-529-2537
http://lostshoeproductions.com/

Named after an odd moment of Ann Hanavan’s life when she woke up one day on 13th St minus a shoe (and she’s not shy telling you about that pivotol moment), this tiny boutique may be small in square footage but packed with couture goodies to die for. Hip chick clothing, also carrying the rocking Allison Burns line of handbags and Karen Black pillowcases for that slick and sultry late 70s look.

Ludlow Guitars
164 Ludlow St.
212-353-1775
http://ludlowguitars.com/

From guitar picks to vintage musical pieces, anything for a music fan, nostalgia to alternative alike. A heck of an interesting shop to check out and ogle over.

Marmalade
172 Ludlow Street
212-473-8070

One of the numerous vintage shops yet they stand out with their choice pieces including some hot Givenchy you would give your eyeteeth for. But you don’t have to.

MIKS
100 Stanton St. near Ludlow St.
212-505-1982

Because you can never get enough of imports from Japan. For the cutesy, totally with-it, girl with a yen for the unique; cute jackets, accessories, handbags, t-shirts and tops for her.

Vlada NYC
103 Stanton St. near Ludlow St.
212-387-7767

Selling their own label plus some hard to find others, Vlada is a woman’s paradise for unique and snazzy tops with an inventory of tops and bottoms to make some hard-to-beat combos. Because isn’t that what every NYC chick want?

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BEST WAY TO GET THERE:

SUBWAY: F, V Train : 2nd Ave stop. Get off on the Allen St & Houston Exit. Walk over one block east and you’re at the starting point of great shopping!

BUS: M15 to Houston St Stop. Same directions as the subway.

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