While it may not be as ritzy and glamorous as other Manhattan neighborhoods, never underestimate the wonderful world of Harlem. Rich in New York City history, Harlem still maintains a distinct culture despite the spread of gentrification. Spend an afternoon walking around, get to know this uptown area, take in its distinct vibe, and treat yourself to a shopping spree while you’re at it. Here are six great Harlem shops to visit along the way.
Harlem Haberdashery, 245 Lenox Ave
The Harlem Renaissance was one of NYC’s most iconic eras, and the Harlem Haberdashery has worked to preserve its spirit. This boutique stocks clothing and accessories that are much more of a “look” than a carbon copy “outfit.” In other words, this is the place to go if you want to add something flashy to your wardrobe, inspired by the city’s most successful urban artists and entrepreneurs.
Carol’s Daughter, 24 W 125th St
Carol’s Daughter has built a reputation in the beauty world of catering to women with ethnic hair. But even if you have stick-straight tresses, this store has fantastic products for all hair types, as well as a line of body products. If you’re new to the brand, definitely have a whiff of their Monoi oil line. Monoi is a signature elixir used in the Pacific islands consisting of coconut oil and Tahitian gardenias – and it smells amazing.
Studio Museum in Harlem Gift Shop, 144 W 125th St
Add a dose of culture to your shopping spree with a trip to the Studio Museum in Harlem. The Studio Museum is dedicated to black artists, both locally and internationally, with pieces that are a beautiful representation of black culture. And even if you don’t have time to browse through all the exhibits, you can pick up a unique gift or souvenir at the museum gift shop. Take a piece of Harlem home with keepsakes such as African-inspired scarves or art prints.
Atmos, 203 W 125th St
No Harlem shopping spree would be complete without a stylish new pair of kicks. Pop into Atmos for some slick-looking footwear, perfect for those long uptown excursions. With brands like G-Shock, Karhu, Puma and Ubiq, your feet will look so good (and feel so comfortable) that you’ll probably want to wear your new shoes out of the store.
Harlem Fragrance, 2355 Frederick Douglass Blvd
The name says it all. Harlem Fragrance has everything from beauty essentials to scents for the home. Some of the store’s signature goodies include natural African soap imported from Ghana, raw shea and mango butter, and black seed oil-based products.
Make My Cake, 2380 Adam C Powell Blvd
Splurge on a shopping spree sweet treat with a slice of cake (or pie, or cheesecake) from Make My Cake. This Harlem bakery has a charming Southern atmosphere with baked goods that are deliciously homemade (no fillers and preservatives!). Make My Cake is also famous for their red velvet cake and cupcakes. The touristy bakeries may be located midtown and downtown, but uptown is where it’s at when it comes to down-home baking.
In the comments, tell us your favorite Harlem shops!