New York City has been the epicenter for commerce and advertising since the advent of cities in the United States. The nature of the city provides a sandbox for businesses to experiment with new and innovative forms of advertising and marketing. They have the unique opportunity in New York City to access a broad, diverse market of customers and as a result, there is a shopping experience for everyone.
We sought out to make a list of the top retail stores in NYC. To create this list, there were a number of factors that came into play; the quality of the physical space, the uniqueness of the products sold, and the overall experience in the store. Read on to see which places made the cut.
The Evolution Store
The Evolution Store is located on Broadway in the SoHo neighborhood. The store is known for its eccentric collection of natural history objects and curios. When juxtaposed against the surrounding clothing stores, the Evolution Store sticks out prominently. For collectors and natural history enthusiasts, this store is a child-like dream. One can find rare fossils, framed butterflies, massive crystals, and so much more. Plus the decor adds to the atmosphere even further, with fully articulated skeletons and assorted skulls mounted to the walls and ceiling, and any additional free space is filled with vintage posters and medical models.
This store is definitely worth a visit even just to marvel at the eclectic artifacts.
The Greenwich Locksmith is a special place because if you didn’t know to look for it, it would go largely unnoticed because it is dwarfed by the neighboring restaurants and condominiums. Nestled on 7th St in the West Village neighborhood, the Locksmith has been a staple for over 30 years. You may be wondering why a locksmith would be on a list of exciting examples of branding. The answer is because of shop owner Philip Mortillaro’s artistic initiative. At first, Mortillaro added a pattern of keys to his door which added an artistic flair to the shop that people took notice of. After that, he made an entire chair out of keys which grew his status as a local celebrity. And then in 2011, he created an interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night entirely out of keys and it was done to the scale of the facade of the Greenwich Locksmith.
So now, when you walk through Greenwich village you’ll see a massive metallic artwork made entirely out of keys and know that this is the Greenwich Locksmith. This business has also had amazing staying power in a neighborhood that has steadily grown more expensive. It represents the artistic, creative spirit of a Greenwich Village that once was.
Showfields is the penultimate example of creative branding and retailing in New York City. Located at 11 Bond St in NoHo, Showfields is a massive building spanning half a city block and 4+ stories high. They describe themselves as “the most interesting store in the world” and they may be right. Their philosophy is to challenge the retail status quo by merging art and commerce to reimage the shopping experience. The store consists of curated art, physical attractions, and one-of-a-kind brands. There are many smaller e-commerce brands that have pop-up locations within Showfields, each with its own unique aesthetic and accompanying decor theme.
It is structured like an art gallery so that one may walk through the store and experience each pop-up shop individually.
In 2016, Nike SoHo opened its doors to the public. Located at Broadway and Spring St, the massive retail experience is 5 stories tall and spans over 55,000 square feet of space. The store was built with the intent to showcase the best of Nike’s services. It provides “a seamless link between Nike’s digital and physical platforms” by providing customers with product trial spaces and product customization. When visiting the store, there are many different notable sections to make sure to visit. You can check out the Basketball Trial Zone on the fifth floor, which is roughly the size of half a regulation basketball court, in order to try out their selection of basketball shoes.
If the trial zone isn’t your thing, then maybe the Nike by NYC customization zone will suit your fancy. There, you can customize and laser engrave Nike products with NYC brands or imagery of your choosing.
Dover Street Market
Dover Street Market is a multi-brand retail store with its NYC location in the Kips Bay neighborhood. The original location in London was started by Rei Kawakubo of the Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons. The store is a multi-brand retailer and houses some of the trendiest fashion items of the season.
The store itself features chic and artistic displays for the brands across the store so your shopping experience is reminiscent of walking through an art gallery.
L-Train Vintage is a New York City staple, with locations all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, there is almost always an L-Train within walking distance. Established in 1999, L-Train Vintage is a family-run business. There are many options when it comes to vintage and thrift stores in NYC but none come close to the quality and affordability of L-Train. There is a sprawling collection of pieces for you to browse through and they put out new items three to four times a week so there is always something new. A particular favorite location is the one on Sackett Street in Brooklyn. It is called “No Relation Vintage” but is a part of the L-Train Vintage chain.
This location is in a small warehouse and the thrifting experience feels massive. And this location typically has the best deals, you can find a lightly used pair of jeans, a vintage sweater, and a pair of shoes for less than ten dollars apiece.
Strand Bookstore is an iconic landmark in New York City. It has been a fixture of the city since 1927. The current location stands three stories tall and carries over 2.5 million new and used books spanning a vast range of topics. The store is a massive maze of shelves and displays and bookcases. One could easily roam the store for hours, just examining the impressive variety of literature and literature-adjacent products.
The store looks like an old library and feels quintessentially New York.
The MoMa Design Store
Located in SoHo, the MoMa Design store boasts a unique selection of merchandise, from handbags to vases. Their slogan, “Shop the unshoppable” highlights the factor that sets this store apart from others. Their curatorial department carefully selects pieces of art, some pieces are one-of-a-kind.
They offer an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of architecture and design, as well as books, films, paintings, and other forms of media.
The list would not be complete without Times Square. Times Square is one of the most iconic parts of New York City and a major tourist attraction. The Square is located between 5th and Broadway avenue on 42nd to 47th street. It has a rich history, has undergone massive change and today is a breathtaking display of art and culture. The lighted, animated billboards cover the surrounding buildings, restaurants, theaters, and attractions line the busy streets.
One favorite is the redesigned TKTS ticket booth that now features a massive glass red staircase on the back of it for people to sit on and “observe the theater of life”. Everything is well considered down to the paving stones which were chosen because of their high reflectivity of the lights.
LIC Pepsi Sign
The LIC Pepsi Sign is located at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, just across the water from Manhattan. The sign is 50 feet tall, standing 20 feet off the ground. It is now recognized as a landmark by the city. It was originally built in 1940 on top of a huge PepsiCo Bottling plant that stood in Long Island City. This sign is a nod to the major industrial period that the city went through. Since its original construction, the sign has been redone to reflect the redesigned Pepsi bottle and has been moved from the original location of the bottling plant when it closed down.
Today you can see the sign from Manhattan if you go to the East Riverside.
This concludes our list of the top NYC brands and retail experiences. We hope that you found the list interesting and perhaps will add some of these stores to your next trip to New York. Living Proof Creative is a creative marketing agency that seeks to provide robust solutions to a broad range of design needs. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or design inquiries.