Best secret shops in New York City

There are spoils to be had at these covert stores for those in the know.

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  • Photograph: Lindsay M Taylor

    Cherry Vintage

  • Photograph: Lindsay M Taylor

    Cherry Vintage

  • Photograph: Chiara Marinai

    '80s Def Leppard concert tee, $150, at Cherry Vintage

  • Photograph: Chiara Marinai

    '60s deadstock plaid fur-trimmed boots, $150, at Cherry Vintage

  • Photograph: Chiara Marinai

    '60s Western shirt, $100, at Cherry Vintage

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Estate Jewels by George & Raf

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Valentino '80s collar necklace, $140, at Estate Jewels by George & Raf

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    '50s sapphire rhinestone bracelet, $60, at Estate Jewels by George & Raf

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    Lisner '60s resin earrings, necklace and bracelet set; $145, at Estate Jewels by George & Raf

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    Napier '60s grape-cluster ring, $95, at Estate Jewels by George & Raf

  • Photograph: Richard Burrowes

    MissesDressy.com showroom

  • Photograph: Nitzan Krimsky

    Jovani Prom short-sleeve sequin dress, $500, at MissesDressy.com showroom

  • Photograph: Julia Gartland

    Vaute Couture

  • Vaute Couture men's European-fit dress coat, $500

  • Photograph: Nitzan Krimsky

    Vaute Couture velvet peacoat, $398

  • Photograqph: Nitzan Krimsky

    Vaute Couture faux-fur earmuffs, $60

  • V.I.A. Vintage Intelligence Agency

  • Whiting & Davis '50s metal mesh evening clutch, $85, at V.I.A. Vintage Intelligence Agency

  • Photograph: Lindsay Taylor

    Gucci '80s logo-print bag, $400, at V.I.A. Vintage Intelligence Agency

  • '70s striped canvas-and-leather watch strap, $65, at V.I.A. Vintage Intelligence Agency

  • Photograph: Stephanie Gussin

    Alife Rivington Club

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Pointer leather-and-canvas shoes, $110, at Alife Rivington Club

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Alife NYC jersey tee, $32

  • Photographs: Richard Burrowes

    Artware Editions

  • Markus Linnennbrink colorful paint-drip watch, $70, at Artware Editions

  • Little M by Miyeon Lee drop-chain earrings, $120, at Artware Editions

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Community 54

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Community 54

  • Photograqph: Nitzan Krimsky

    Members Only puffer vest, $98, at Community 54

  • Photograqph: Nitzan Krimsky

    '80s satin Detroit Tigers Starter jacket, $90, at Community 54

  • Photograph: Lindsay M Taylor

    Kiosk

  • Photograph: Lindsay M Taylor

    Copper, brass and glass bangles from India; five for $78, at Kiosk

  • Dart set from Finland, $52, at Kiosk

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    Shareen Vintage

  • Molly Malloy All That Jazz '90s floral minidress, $48, at Shareen Vintage

  • Shareen Again plaid playsuit, $48, at Shareen Vintage

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Jersey wrap dress, $62, at Shareen Vintage

Photograph: Lindsay M Taylor

Cherry Vintage


RECOMMENDED: Best shops in NYC

Cherry Vintage
This vintage retailer has been through many incarnations—it started as a clothing and furniture store on the Lower East Side in 1998, relocated to the West Village in 2003 to focus solely on fashion, and finally moved to its current 5,000-square-foot Queens warehouse in 2009. Despite all the change, it's never strayed from carrying a well-balanced mix of high-end designer clothing and rock & roll street apparel dating from the early 1800s to the late '90s. While you need an appointment (call or e-mail cherryrocks@earthlink.net) to browse the cluttered racks and displays organized by decade and designer, don't expect the staff to hound you—customers are set loose to explore the Pucci, Herms and Bill Blass threads at their own pace. Bargain hunters can find edgy items such as an '83 Def Leppard concert tee ($150), a plaid '80s Norma Kamali cap ($150) and an outr pair of '50s cat-eye sunglasses featuring rose appliqu ($75). 40-37 23th St at 41st Ave, Long Island City, Queens (718-786-8645, cherryboutique.com). Mon--Fri 9am--6pm.

Estate Jewels by George & Raf
Owners George Yzquierdo and Rafael Medrano opened this glitzy showroom in June 2011 to showcase their collection of costume jewelry that spans nearly 150 years of American and European design. Decked out with bejeweled mannequins, wrought-iron furniture and vintage button--upholstered armchairs, the space is as elaborate as the gems it holds. Book an appointment (e-mail info@estatejewelsbygr.com) and the duo will pull more than 100 pieces for you to browse during a complimentary styling session. Be prepared to drool over statement pieces such as an '80s Valentino structured collar necklace ($145), a '50s sapphire rhinestone bracelet ($60) and a showstopping '50s Juliana multicolored necklace-and-earrings set ($1,050). You can even check yourself out in four mirrors equipped with different lighting to see how your jewels will glimmer on the red carpet, at a candlelit dinner, in an office or at home. Feel like an old Hollywood starlet in a '60s Lisner resin earrings, necklace and bracelet set ($145); or a '60s Napier grape-cluster ring ($95). 111 Lafayette Ave at South Oxford St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (917-903-0484, estatejewelsbygr.com). Tue--Sun noon--7pm.

MissesDressy.com showroom
This eveningwear emporium originated as an e-commerce site for special-occasion frocks in 2010, and opened its brick-and-mortar showroom just a year later to provide New York customers with gratis consultations and fittings. Since the site carries more than 8,000 dresses from 120 brands like Sue Wong, Tadashi Shoji and Badgley Mischka, it's necessary to book the one-on-one services in advance so a staff member can help you hash out the specifics of your dream dress. Upon arrival, similar styles (or a few you picked out from the website ahead of time) will await you in the private fitting room. For the upcoming blitz of holiday fetes, consider party-hopping in Hannah S sequin-and-tulle frocks ($198), Scala by Ashley Lauren one-shoulder ruffle neckline dresses or Sentimental lace-covered bodycon styles ($139). If you're after a more dramatic evening look, sizzle in Jovani Prom floor-length strapless sweetheart-neckline dresses ($550). 37-24 24th St at 38th Ave, suite 340, Long Island City, Queens (877-334-1786, missesdressy.com). Mon--Fri 9am--6pm.

Vaute Couture
Faced with the difficulty of finding an ethical coat warm enough to withstand harsh Chicago winters, former model and longtime vegan Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart took it upon herself to create her own outerwear in the fall of 2008. Though she officially launched her label of windproof, snow-resistant, cruelty-free coats a year later, it wasn't until February 2011 that she opened her Chelsea showroom to the public (to book an appointment, e-mail sales@vautecouture.com). Inside the petite studio, clients (including celeb PETA member Alicia Silverstone) get one-on-one time with Hilgart while thumbing through the racks of men's and women's jackets made from high-performance Polartec fabric. All of the toppers are constructed in the Garment District, including ladies' flirty velvet peacoats ($398) and quilted puffer jackets ($450), and men's slim, European-fit dress coats ($500). The line has also expanded to include vegan knitwear ($44--$148), clothing ($26--$64) and jewelry ($25--$30). Keep warm with handmade soy-knit pom-pom hats ($88), "Friends not food" screen-printed eco-fleece sweatshirts ($64) and colorful faux-fur earmuffs ($60). 548 W 28th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, suite 336 (vautecouture.com). Tue--Thu 2--6pm.

V.I.A. Vintage Intelligence Agency
When Suzanne McCoy Fitschen opened this vintage gold mine in January 2011, it was exclusively reserved for fashion stylists and designers. Luckily for the rest of us, V.I.A.'s showroom began welcoming the general public in July. Though Fitschen offers services such as personal styling, wardrobe assessment, appraisals and estate liquidations ($100--$200 each per hour), it's completely free to browse. Only one shopper is served at a time, so you won't have to elbow your way to an '80s Gucci logo-print bag ($400) or a '50s Whiting & Davis metal mesh evening clutch ($85). The meticulously curated 3,000-plus piece collection is constantly revolving more than 100 years of fashion through its doors, and is organized by theme (i.e. Edwardian). So while you might find a preppy '70s striped canvas-and-leather watch strap ($65) and a bright pair of '60s Aris wool gloves ($65) next to each other, a decidedly disco '80s Emanuel Ungaro floral-print silk blouse ($175) would be kept far away from a hip-hop-esque '70s Furrina stadium jacket ($125). Mention TONY when booking an appointment (call or e-mail info@viavtg.com) to receive 20 percent off any purchase or consulting service through Nov 30. 611 Broadway at W Houston St, suite 534 (212-673-0703, viavtg.com). Mon--Fri 10am--6pm.

Hidden storefronts

Alife NYC and Alife Rivington Club
Marked only by a small bronze placard and a buzzer, these side-by-side stores radiate exclusivity before patrons even take a step inside. Through one door, streetwear brand Alife NYC sells its house line of men's apparel, including "Good for you!" jersey tees ($32) and five-panel chambray caps ($35). Enter through the other and you'll find yourself surrounded by wall-to-wall light boxes showcasing sneakers, such as Pointer leather-and-canvas chukkas ($110), Alife nylon mid-tops ($85) and one-of-a-kind Alife x Warrior Classic hand-painted tennis kicks ($55). A glass display case hosts the most hard-to-find pairs, including Air Jordan XI Space Jam sneakers ($550) from the 2001 release. Regardless of where you find yourself, both of the long, narrow shops are reminiscent of an elite '20s speakeasy, with cherrywood interiors, low leather couches and ostrich-grain wallpaper. 158 Rivington St at Clinton and Suffolk Sts (212-375-8116, alifenyc.com). Mon--Sat noon--7pm, Sun noon--6pm.

Artware Editions
Located across the street from the New Museum, this design-focused gallery quietly resides above a busy home-supply store with only a banner hanging outside its second-story window advertising its existence. Cofounders Rebecca Kong and Jon Tomlinson both worked as contemporary art dealers before they started Artware Editions in 2006 to challenge visual artists to produce limited-edition, functional design objects, such as Christopher Kurtz's circle-motif armchair and ottoman set ($1,500). The only criteria are that the pieces must have utility and a strong conceptual connection to the artists' previous work. You'll find items from nearly 150 artists (including Marina Abramovic and Damien Hirst) on display in the white-walled space. Highlights from the collaborative efforts include Markus Linnennbrink colorful paint-drip watches ($70), Ligorano/Reese fuck snow globes ($60) and Little M by Miyeon Lee drop-chain earrings ($120). 270 Bowery St between E Houston and Prince Sts, second floor (212-463-7490, artwareeditions.com). Mon--Fri 11am--6pm, Sat noon--5pm.

Community 54
From the street, Community 54 looks like a vintage video arcade that boasts games like Ms. Pac-Man, NBA Jam and Marvel vs. Capcom (50 per game). An unassuming photo booth ($3 per photo) sits in the front, ready for patrons to capture a few memories—or to notice that beyond its blue curtain lies a streetwear shop stocked with men's garb, including Rich Scampi hello mello T-shirts ($40), Gumball 3000 bright plaid T-shirts ($110) and Da Bears x Starter x Good Wood NYC snap-back hats ($40). The covert back room also houses an assortment of curated '80s and '90s vintage and consignment goods, such as an '80s satin Detroit Tigers Starter jacket ($90), as well as a Tommy Hilfiger geometric-print button-up shirt ($80) and a Ralph Lauren Polo truck-printed style ($90), both hailing back from the '90s. There's even an outdoor event space out back decorated by international graffiti artists that has hosted acts like Soulja Boy and ASAP Rocky. 54 Clinton St between Rivington and Stanton Sts (212-673-7060, community54.com). Mon--Wed 11am--8pm, Thu--Sun 11am--9pm.

Kiosk
Outside, a large pink neon arrow points you toward this little incognito treasure trove. Venture up a staircase decorated in black-and-white geometric designs and you'll encounter the worldly trinkets that owners Alisa Grifo and Marco Romeny pick up on their biannual travels. Shelves upon shelves host the store's revolving stock, and a few even hang from the ceilings, including Portuguese hot-air balloons ($28). Every four to six months, the featured country changes to another locale, with the current collection showcasing items from India, such as bicycle bells ($23); jasmine oil ($20); chai glasses ($3 each); and copper, brass and glass bangles (five for $78). Kiosk also has a few ongoing items from previous exhibitions, including Airam thermoses ($45) and dart sets ($52) from Finland; a Swedish mushrooming knife made of reindeer horn, birch and steel ($90); and a rainbowlike toy xylophone ($38) from Germany. 95 Spring St between Broadway and Mercer St, second floor (212-226-8601, kioskkiosk.com). Mon--Sat 11am--7pm.

Shareen Vintage
Shopping at Shareen Mitchell's second-floor vintage sanctuary feels like being a member of a secret society: From the outside, the store's only telltale sign is a lone red dress hung on the fire escape, which indicates when the shop is open. Inside, racks of bohemian-chic women's clothing from the 1900s through the '90s are spread throughout two rooms. Mitchell specializes in affordable merchandise from lesser-known brands, and her finds include a '60s gold brocade dress ($92), a Godchaux double-breasted peacoat ($75) and a '90s Molly Malloy All That Jazz floral minidress with an oversize collar ($48). She also alters and retags vintage pieces under her own label, Shareen Again, like she did with a wool plaid playsuit ($48) and a mini halter party dress ($88). There are no changing rooms (and no guys allowed!), so make sure to dress in layers if you plan on trying anything on. The complimentary wine and champagne should help you get over any reservations you may have about stripping down in front of strangers; there's also gratis candy and popcorn for snacking. 13 W 17th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, second floor (212-206-1644, shareenvintage.com). Wed--Fri 1--9pm; Sat, Sun 2--6pm.

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Users say

4 comments
vashali
vashali

VIA is NOT open to the publid - this information should be updated

Alina
Alina

Hey! I'm from Argentina and I will be visiting New York in June and would like to know where I can buy winter clothes from last season.I only know Century and woodbury common. Thanks!

valerie sheen
valerie sheen

Hello, please can you tell me what shops victor mature the actor would shop in also can you tell me his favourite aftershave or cologne . Thankyou.