Long considered one of Manhattan’s artsier enclaves, the East Village made its name throughout the twentieth century a home of gritty rock clubs, innovative art galleries, and bohemian performance spaces. Today, those visitors most interested in New York City shopping will want to head toward East Village for its eclectic vintage stores, happening thrift shops, and niche indie boutiques.
Getting to Know the Neighborhood
If you’re of a certain age—don’t worry, no one’s asking, but we know who we are—you’re liable to think of East Village as either home to the Beat Poets or a mecca of punk rock. That’s because East Village has a rich history as an artistic neighborhood, the sort of place where creative minds and bohemian types congregated throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century. In the early 1950s, East Village was home to writers such as Allen Ginsberg and W.H. Auden, while the 1970s saw the rise of CBGB, the legendary music venue whose stage was graced by iconic acts like The Ramones, Patti Smith, and Television.
Like so much of Manhattan in the twenty-first century, East Village has changed over the years, but it still features innovative galleries, electrifying performance spaces, hip bars, and of course, more than its fair share of vintage clothing stores.
Popular East Village Shopping Destinations
The first things that come to mind when most people think of the East Village shopping scene are vintage stores. The East Village is famous for its wonderful selection of independent shops that cater to creative, eclectic tastes and nostalgic fashion styles. Whether you’re in the market for vintage clothes, chic home goods, bohemian accessories, or you just want to pick up a good book to read, you can find what you’re looking for in the East Village.
For over a decade now, Cloak & Dagger on East 9th Street has been an East Village favorite for women’s clothing. The intimate boutique sells its own house-label apparel and accessories, as well as a critically acclaimed curation of items by fashionable designers from around the world. During the week, Cloak & Dagger can even be booked for private shopping appointments.
New York City thrift store institution L Train Vintage operates their only Manhattan location, No Relation Vintage, on 1stAvenue in East Village. This two-floor secondhand shop is full of hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. You never know just what overlooked clothing gems you might uncover on any given visit!
Of all the fabulous vintage stores to choose from throughout East Village, they don’t come much more well-regarded than Cobblestones, which has operated in the area for over 40 years. Cobblestones sells a variety of women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, and more. There’s something here for everyone, though longtime customers swear by the shop’s selection of 1930s and 1940s clothing and accessories.
Other Ways to Enjoy East Village
East Village is located adjacent to Union Square, which is where you’ll find a couple of Manhattan’s most dynamic shopping experiences. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 8:00am and 6:00pm Union Square hosts its beloved Greenmarket, a year-round farmers’ market. Meanwhile, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are the best days to partake in Union Square’s fabled sidewalk shopping scene. These vendors tend to specialize more in arts-and-crafts items. In addition, Union Square is a great spot for some good, old-fashioned New York City people-watching.
On your way to the Greenmarket, you really should stop in for a bit at the Strand Book Store, which is located at 828 Broadway, just two blocks south of Union Square. This New York City institution is without a doubt one of the most heralded bookshops in the world. It proudly bills itself as containing “18 Miles of Books.” No matter what genre of reading material you call your favorite, you’ll find it here and then some—the selection is incredible.
If you’ve got your good walking shoes on and you’re feeling particularly adventurous, New York City’s Flatiron Building is six blocks north of Union Square. This striking, triangular structure is one of the most photographed sites in all of Manhattan. Some, in fact, consider it one of the city’s unofficial symbols. It sits across the street from Madison Square Park, a popular public green space.