Coming to America
June 30, 2011 6:26 PM   Subscribe

NYC where-to-shop: Looking for everything from a kinda-butch personal shopper to conductive thread and adafruit electronic kits to soft-toys and game parts. Also jean restoration and foot massages. Specifics inside.

Travelling to NYC and need your best shopping recs.

Clothing: I have absolutely no style, jeans and tees all the time, buttondown shirt for dressy. I am in my mid thirties and about thirty pounds overweight. What stores should I be looking at? Are there any with a personal shopping service who could make me dress properly but still within my comfort zone? Want to dress kinda cool, but not trying too hard or inappropriate for my age. Decent fit is priority.

Electronics / geekstuff: Basically I want to buy the kind of stuff that is in the maker store and adafuits webbstore. I have already checked and adafruit won't sell from their office unfortunately, and my hotel won't let me have things shipped there. Conductive thread, Drawdios, little bots, POV-toys, FERROFLUID!!! You get the picture I think.

Clothing 2: I am in contact with Denim Therapy about getting some jeans repaired/restored, but they have a two week turnaround. Do you know somewhere that does the same kinda work, but quicker?

Cellphones: Can I just pick up a "pay as you go" sim-card any old place like I can in Europe? Are they crazy expensive or like ten bucks? Is there any provider I should choose or avoid, we probably only want to call eachother and maybe stores or whatever. Free data would be wicked cool, but unexpected.

Pampering: Recs for somewhere to get a footmassage or manicure or similar pampering after a day running around town. Somewhere that treats their staff well is important, but still at the budget end if possible.

Clothing 3: I want to buy a buttload of dorky t-shirts like threadless, six-dollar-tees etc. Cheap and cheerful is the way to go here.

Toys: The only listed distributor of Squishables doesn't answer their mail unfortunately, and neither do the boardgame store I contacted about replacement cards for Catan. Where should I go to satisfy my need for giant plushy narwhals and bazillion-sided-dice?

Bonus: I could get around a lot of these retail problems if my hotel would let me ship. I gather that doing "general delivery" is not the best idea. There's some dude in like Brooklyn or something that will take in your packages, but he doesn't appear to have email. Any other suggestions for services that you can post to?

Totally feels like I am forgetting stuff I meant to pick your brains about, but any help on these would be great. I am mainly going to be on Manhattan I guess which might be worth mentioning.
posted by Iteki to Shopping (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Clothing: Are you short? If so, Uniqlo, Uniqlo, Uniqlo. They're basically a Japanese version of the Gap. Timeless clothes (dark jeans, sweaters in classic shapes, flannel and oxford button-downs, interesting work separates, simple sweats, classic plain tees) with a somewhat edgy twist. Cut for the somewhat petite. They also have a wonderfully fashion forward (and, again, somewhat petite) men's section, if you are "kinda-butch" for real. Oh, and they do free next-day hemming on pants.

Cellphones: pay as you go is less common here. Go Phone is the one I've heard of most often, though I'm no expert. You should be able to pick one up at any AT&T store, of which there are many in the NYC area. I think Virgin Mobile may have an option as well? They're much less ubiquitous, though.

Clothing 3: Brooklyn Industries. Not as cheap as threadless, but it's a smallish business based out of NYC, so you sort of get what you pay for. The tees tend to be in the $20-$30 range rather than $15-20 you find at threadless. Threadless doesn't have actual stores though, so. Uniqlo has a similar t-shirt outlook to Threadless, but I find their designs are a lot less interesting. Cheaper than Brooklyn Industries, though.

Toys: Giant Robot. The Games Place. The Compleat Strategist.

Have you looked into using a Mailboxes, Etc. or similar option for shipping? I'm not sure how to set this up from overseas, but there's an entire business model based on the idea of an address to ship things to with a person who will sign for your packages and keep them safe for you.
posted by Sara C. at 6:48 PM on June 30, 2011

Kidrobot on Prince in Soho for odd toys, etc. Also, pop into the MoMA Design Shop just down Prince.

Uniqlo is a good call for t-shirts that won't be everywhere. Maybe look at Muji too just for the hell of it -- you might see clothes or doo-dads or shoes or bags that you might like (just a cool odd store that feels like H&M had a japanese baby with Duane Reade if that makes any sense), and pop into Pearl River for just random unique things.

I would pop into a random tailor on any corner and ask them about mending jeans. I keep meaning to do this myself, as I was trying to see if it would be cheaper than denim therapy.

I'm not sure I understand your problem with the delivery thing -- are you coming from outside of the country and want packages delivered from inside the City to your hotel?
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:23 PM on June 30, 2011

Best answer: Clothing: Several of my lady friends hit up Forever 21 and H&M for basic stuff, then thrift stores in the East Village for funkier stuff.
Electronics / Geekstuff: AC Gears has some gadgety consumer electronics, but they're not quite Make material. They also have some imported toys. Across the river in Brooklyn, there's Leeds Electronics for old steampunky bits.
Toys: Toy Tokyo.
Gaming: Games Workshop.
Bonus: You can ship things to*, or from, a local UPS Store. (*such as the Adafruit goodies that you can only buy online.)
posted by D.Billy at 9:42 PM on June 30, 2011

Response by poster: Excuse the delay in getting back here, have limited connection at the moment!

Thanks for all these, and I think I have a great selection of stuff to check up on the toys and geeks front, looking forward to it! The UPS Store tip also seems to be exactly what I am looking for, am checking with them now about how to go about it.

Still feel I need saving on the clothes front if anyone is still reading.
Unless they do larger sizes in HM in the states than in Sweden, I am too fat to shop in their stores these days. Uniqlo and Forever 21 also seemed a little on the skinny hipster end of things, but I will have a peep just in case. Their guys stuff looked cute, but I would like to buy womens clothes, just not ... ladyclothes. Do you know any well dressed sorta-butch dykes who know of some great store?
posted by Iteki at 5:29 AM on July 3, 2011

Without knowing what size you wear it is almost impossible to recommend you places to shop. The only brand I know with a strong presence in New York that universally carries a HUGE size run up to, like, 22 and 24, is Old Navy. Which is probably not up your alley aesthetically, but who knows? Otherwise for what are known as "plus sizes" (typically anything over a 14 or 16) women typically have to go to separate stores. Lane Bryant is a really ubiquitous one throughout the US, but again, it's likely not up your alley aesthetically speaking.

I'm not butch (most of the truly butch women I know wear men's clothing), but I'm a bit of a tomboy and buy all my simple, classic, quasi-butch stuff at Uniqlo. They're great for basic unisex styles that don't only sell the women's version in pink or with a giant ruffle on it for no reason.
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: Ok, I'm in :) will give uniqlo a shot.
posted by Iteki at 4:23 AM on July 5, 2011

For clothes, check out re/dress NYC -- it's a 14+ consignment store with a lot of style and very excellent staff. You can find vintage, new (though frillier new), and gently used. I'm a fan.
posted by countrymod at 4:42 PM on July 6, 2011

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