Shopping at stores in SoHo (South of Houston) is totally different than shopping at the designer stores on Fifth Avenue. There’s a downtown vibe, with streets closer together and a more intimate, casual feel.
Spend an afternoon or an entire day wandering through the district’s boutiques and you’ll be surprised at the variety of shops you find. With plenty of cafes—many with street seating in nice weather—you can quench your thirst and fill your belly with food as you go. Check out these five must-see stores in Soho:
Even if you weren’t looking for this showroom on the corner of Greene and Grand, you might just wander in anyway. With large windows to see inside, the shop’s striking lighting fixtures by German designer Ingo Maurer will capture the attention of everyone from toddlers to grannies. Curiosity gets the best of you, and you step into the two-story, 2,300-square-foot showroom, mouth agape, looking at a fixture shaped like a chicken, a light made out of a soup can, hanging pendants that look like modern candles, and a spare light bulb with realistic-looking insects attached. They’re all whimsical.
Pearl River Mart
While this massive, three-story Asian store has some of the typical items found in Chinatown tourist shops, you meander through Pearl River Mart discovering all sorts of treasures. Look up and see exquisite dragon and lion heads—that were used in Chinese New Year parades—displayed alongside designer Chinese dresses and other eye-catching items. Fill your basket with packaged Asian snacks that you won’t see at the grocery store. Downstairs, choose from kitchen wares ranging from quirky to mundane, including kid-friendly chopsticks.
If you’ve ever wanted to see a bat skeleton alongside a framed collection of mounted butterflies and taxidermy animals, this is one of the best stores in SoHo for you. Filled with oddities and interesting natural history artifacts, Evolution Store is like a museum. Those who are claustrophobic might want to wait outside—this narrow two-story shop is crowded with displays on the wall, on the floor, and in cases. You could spend all day browsing.
Housing Works Bookstore and Café
Get some books and drinks while helping the less fortunate. Housing Works sells donated books, music, and videos, and also hosts events like the Moth StorySLAM. Stop by to browse for books and stay for a cup of coffee and pastries, or even a beer. This is no dingy secondhand store. The inside is gorgeous, with a center aisle that’s two stories high, dark paneling, seemingly endless book shelves, and curving staircases. Proceeds help people affected by and living with HIV/AIDS, and the store is volunteer-staffed.
Madonna & Co
Looking for designer duds? Head to Madonna & Co, a SoHo boutique where you can get a glass of champagne while shopping for clothes that make a statement. The white walls with unique moulding at the top—combined with interesting furniture and dark floors—make shopping here an aesthetic pleasure. You’re sure to find something for any occasion, be it casual or elegant.