Cash or Credit: 5 Iconic New York City Stores You Can’t Afford to Miss

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New York City is not, shall we stay, a budget destination, unless you’re from some lucky country with currency that is stronger than the dollar. Luckily, a lot of NYC’s most iconic stores are great for window shopping and are attractions in their own right. Here are the top five you should check out.

5 Trash and Vaudeville

Way before you could just walk into Hot Topic in any mall in Middle America, you had to come to shops like Trash and Vaudeville to buy your goth, rock or punk gear, my friends. Even in the days of Hot Topic – and I’m not knocking it, I surely love it as much as the next person – if you’re looking for custom clothes, hot shoes, Doc Martens in every color of the rainbow, the full Tripp NYC line or bat wing hair clips, this is where it’s at. It’s one of the few remaining authentic pieces of counterculture on a St. Mark’s Place that is becoming increasingly, and sadly, gentrified. TaV has been dressing rock stars for decades. It’s even appeared in comics – when Morbius the Living Vampire needed gear in his 90s Midnight Sons reappearance, he came here for his costume.

4 Macy’s Herald Square

Macy’s Herald Square bills itself as the “largest department store in the world.” While it’s lost some of the things that made it so special – you can’t eat at the Fountain anymore, and Santaland just isn’t what it used to be – it’s still cool. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a lot of other stores that still have their original wooden escalators or a spring Flower Show. In terms of shopping, you can find everything from M.A.C. makeup to Lacoste apparel here.

3 Toys R’ Us Times Square

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What’s that you said, you have a Toys R’ Us in your town? Not like this, you don’t. New York’s Toys R’ Us, located in Times Square, has a Ferris Wheel. Not a kiddie fair one, either. We’re talking 60 feet high. Every car is designed with a different toy theme: currently, you’ll find Toy Story, My Little Pony, Mr. Potato Head and Tonka trucks on the wheel, among others. There are also a candy store designed for the Candy Land board game, a Barbie doll house you can walk through, huge Lego models and a Jurassic Park dinosaur. If you’re actually interested in buying toys, this Toys R’ Us does also offer most of the products you’d find back home, as well as some New York exclusives.

2 FAO Schwarz

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On a personal note, I still haven’t forgiven FAO for removing their iconic clock tower, which sang “Welcome to Our World of Toys,” and hanging the sad, disembodied clock face by the escalators. However, this isn’t about me, it’s been eight years now, and I’ll get over it. Clock tower or not, this really is a Wonderful World of Toys. FAO specializes in upscale toys, and if you’ve ever wanted to buy a Steiff stuffed animal or an expensive doll, this is where you would find it. FAO also specializes in amazing products you won’t find elsewhere, and it wins here, too. This is perhaps the only place, anywhere, you can design your own Muppet. FAO’s candy shoppe is to die for, too.

1 Tiffany & Co

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You can now find branches of Tiffany across the country, but nothing beats a visit to the real McCoy. This fabled jewelry and design store’s products have been symbols of luxury for generations, and even if you wouldn’t recognize a Tiffany’s piece on sight, you’d invariably be familiar with their aqua-toned boxes and bags. If you’d like to buy something but those four or five figure price tags are making you cringe, here’s a hint: the silver, crystal, books and stationery on the upper floors might be a little easier on your wallet.

There’s a lot of shopping to be done in New York, but even if you just want to drink in some history and culture, you can do it at these iconic stores. Get to it.

Denise Reich is a lifelong traveler: she moved 14 times and went to 10 schools before she turned 15. As an adult she’s traveled solo through five continents and lived on three. Her essays, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in publications across the USA, Canada and Bermuda.

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