Ten Things Not To Do In New York City(4)

9 If you’re seeking a little retail therapy, don’t…
SHOP AT CENTURY 21

There’s no nice way to put this: Century 21 is a zoo. The downtown department store, famous for its deep discounts on designer clothes, is packed to the walls with tourists, aggression, and bad, bad karma. Walk in here and, make no mistake: You will be elbowed. You will be barked at. You will be lectured on obscure store policies. And you will wait in lines of such slowness, disorganization, and hostility that they would test the goodwill of a Franciscan monk. You may find yourself getting carried away with the spirit of the place, spending hours hunting for that one amazing deal, but the sad fact is, most of what you’ll actually find will be dated or defective. If fighting past vicious, hell-bent shoppers appeals to you, or if you wake up one morning itching to wade through heaps of unsorted, unracked, and unclean merch, you’ve found your own private Idaho. 

Instead…
SHOP AT LORD & TAYLOR

As department stores in New York go, Lord & Taylor’s flagship on Fifth Avenue at 38th Street (212-391-3344) is an elegant alternative to big-city retail madness. Its hushed, dignified interior (pictured) always seems impeccably neat, the sales staff is leaps and bounds less pushy than the clerks at Bloomie’s or Bergdorf’s, and the cosmetics counters are well staffed and crowd-free. Even if the store is not actually full of genteel older ladies browsing for gloves and hat pins, the old-school atmosphere can make you believe that a civilized shopping experience can still be had in New York: The store sets out chairs for early-bird shoppers, and the retail day still begins every morning with a piped-in rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Locals in the know make a beeline for the dress floor (on four) whenever a wedding invitation drops. And the sales here can’t be beat, especially if you like your Frye sandals priced at 40% off and rung up by a smiling, helpful pro 

10 Please, please, please don’t…
HAVE A NIGHT OUT IN THE MEATPACKING DISTRICT

Once the haunt of New York’s legendary tranny streetwalkers, not to mention some seriously debauched bars and clubs—we’ll draw a veil over the Manhole, shall we?—the Meatpacking District now echoes with the weekend din of tottering, giggling girls; gauche bars and clubs; and drunken “dudes” in striped button-downs. In the daytime, it’s another story: We’re more than happy to explore the nabe’s excellent shopping thankyouverymuch (including Diane von Furstenberg’s beautiful store), and we’re excited to see how the High Line park will turn out. At least there’s a trace of the real meat-processing industry left: An unwary step off the curb, and you could be ankle deep in the old NYC. 

Instead…
HEAD TO THE LOWER EAST SIDE, AND KEEP GOING

The L.E.S. was once as obnoxious as the M.P.D., attracting its own share of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd. But now the neighborhood, bound by Chinatown to the south, the East Village to the north, and Soho to the West, is as upmarket (luxe Chloe 81, 81 Ludlow St., 212-677-0067) or as downmarket (dive Home Sweet Home, 131 Chrystie St., 212-226-5708) as you want it to be. For those not averse to exploring further afield, get thee to Brooklyn: Kings County has been crowned the new ruler of nightlife in this town. Grab a cab (yes, they have to take you), start on Smith Street in Boerum Hill or Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, and who knows where you might end up—eating barbecue and drinking beer at 4 am in the Brooklyn Ice House (318 Van Brunt St., Red Hook, 718-222-1865) or making out with some hipster in an Art Deco nook at the K&M bar (225 N. 8th St., Williamsburg, 718-388-3088).

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