By Alexandra Phanor-Faury

Best Indie Shops: Harlem


shopThis minimalist Japanese sneaker boutique houses an extensive collection of kicks ($50–$400)—including Adidas, Puma and Atmos’s exclusive collaborations with Nike and New Balance—all of which are displayed in backlit mahogany cubbies. The sneakerhead haven also dabbles in streetwear like T-shirts, jackets and jeans from Stüssy, Black Scale and Atmos’s own signature line. Accessories such as G-Shock watches and Amongst Friends baseball caps will keep you looking fresh from head to toe. TONY deal: MentionTONY to receive 10 percent off everything except Air Jordans and Air Max 2009 sneakers through Wednesday 21. 203 W 125th St at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) (212-666-2242,

Carol’s Daughter
This natural hair- and skin-care line has gone from a neighborhood secret to one of the leading natural beauty companies in the country, with celebs like Brad Pitt lusting after its products. With its soothing white brick walls and divine mélange of fragrances both sweet and subtle, the flagship store in Harlem is an aromatic oasis. Indulge your senses and pick up the brand’s signature handmade soap ($2) in the popular almond-cookie scent, the Ecstasy Shea Souffle moisturizing lotion ($13–$30)and the yummy SweetHoneyDip ChocolateBrownSugah scrub ($34). If time permits, treat yourself to a Rose Petal Ritual mani and pedi ($53) at the in-store Backroom Spa, which focuses solely on hands and feet. 24 W 125th St between Fifth Ave and Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) (212-828-6757,

This 1,200-square-foot former barroom is now Harlem’s hottest sneaker emporium; it’s consistently packed with shoe collectors getting their fix of sought-after limited edition and rare kicks, such as the Android Homme ($220), which are displayed alongside standard model Nikes and Reeboks on the shelves. Browse the assortment of colorful T-shirts, jackets and hoodies by streetwear lines like Primitive, 10Deep and Flip the Bird to complete your look. TONY deal: Mention TONY to receive 15 percent off everything through Wednesday 21. 175 E 105th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-360-7683,

Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe
This veritable Harlem landmark is by far the largest and most famous indie bookstore in the country, focusing on African-American narratives and authors. Brimming with more than 24,000 non-fiction and fiction titles, Hue-Man is perfect for bibliophiles looking to spend a few hours perusing the latest best-sellers while enjoying a cup of coffee at the bookstore’s Café One. At 4,500 square feet, this cavernous space is meticulously organized by specific categories (New York Harlem History, Street Fiction, Diaspora Studies) that make locating what you need a cinch. Still can’t find what you’re looking for? The engaging and knowledgeable staff are always there to guide you. 2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave) between 124th and 125th Sts (212-665-7400,

N Harlem New York
When N Harlem opened its doors in 2006, it was a pioneer for other upscale boutiques that subsequently sprouted in the area. Since then, the shop has outfitted locals and those outside the 10026 zip code in ready-to-wear pieces ($15–$300) from such designers as Joe’s Jeans, Nicole Miller, Byron Lars, Generra and the store’s own private label, N, which specializes in soft cotton T-shirts. In addition to stocking more established designers, the boutique peddles top-shelf local and independent talent alongside N’s line of soy-based candles and lotions. TONY deal: Mention TONY to receive 15 percent off items under $200 and 20 percent off items over $200 through Wednesday 21. 171 Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) between 118th and 119th Sts (212-961-9100,

Hardly your run-of-the-mill Bob Marley–T-shirt shop, this spacious and well-organized reggae store distinguishes itself by stocking everything you need to live the true Rasta-monsta lifestyle. Find sterling silver jewelry ($15–$190), books on Rastafarianism and holistic health, flavored rolling paper, and stylish bohemian wares and accessories (like trendy military shirt-dresses and straw fedoras, $15–$45), all catering to those who pledge allegiance to the red, gold and green. 5 E 125th St between Fifth and Madison Aves • 2035 Fifth Ave between 125th and 126th Sts (212-289-3628,

Pollen Nation Events
pollen nationAt this gallery-like home decor boutique, it’s difficult to determine what’s for sale and what’s part of the store’s furnishings. That’s because everything—save for owners Kelly and Collin Abraham’s adorable son, Myles, sometimes seen napping on the couch—is good for the taking. Scoop up drool-worthy mirrored-glass mosaic vases ($55–$200), photographer Keith Sherwood’s stunning snapshots from the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid Show ($40–$300) or a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers—Beyoncé and Jay-Z hired Pollen Nation to style the buds at their wedding, so you know the arrangements are top-notch. 11 E 125th St between Fifth and Madison Aves (212-860-2022,

Scent of Nature
This intimate shop stocks a bevy of perfume notes with which to create your own signature scent ($15–$140). Friendly owner and fragrance guru Ibrahim Diallo will walk you through the process, but those short on time can choose from the generous selection of premade blends that includes the licorice-inflected Rainbow ($45) and the citrusy Scents of Harlem ($45), a perfect summer cologne. The store also carries Diallo’s own line of natural makeup ($22–$150), which he can customize to any complexion. TONY deal: MentionTONY for 15 percent off everything in the shop through Wednesday 21. 321 Lenox Ave at 126th St (212-222-2773,

The Store at Studio Museum in Harlem
This airy gift shop draws museumgoers and savvy shoppers alike with its endless array of captivating books, postcards, catalogues and prints, all devoted to African-American, African and Caribbean art. Even nonacademic types can score with arty bed linens ($44–$60) and Sandy Baker’s semiprecious jewelry ($32–$90). Though the stock rotates according to the current exhibition, you can always find BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL T-shirts ($25) and mugs ($10), which were introduced by director and chief curator Thelma Golden and inspired by the 1960s Black Power movement. TONY deal: Mention TONY for 10 percent off everything in the shop through Wednesday 21. 144 W 125th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) (212-864-4500,

Swing Concept Shop
Don’t let the racks of pricey Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester threads fool you: Swing doesn’t cater just to those with large bank accounts. Prepare to drop anywhere from $6 for a statue of Hindu deity Ganesh to $2,000 for antique furniture imported from London; you can hit mid-range price points, too, with Sphatika bath and body products, and ready-to-wear clothing and home decor from all corners of the world. This inviting boutique is designed to feel like the fictional home of owner and world traveler Helena Greene—which will become even more apparent when you sit down in the communal area to enjoy a complimentary cup of French tea. Mention TONY to receive 20 percent off everything in the shop through Wednesday 21; bring your receipt to nearby MoJo Harlem restaurant for a free glass of white wine. 1960 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) at 118th St (212-222-5802,

Link – Best indie shops: Harlem

Alexandra Phanor-Faury
Contact me
Latest posts by Alexandra Phanor-Faury (see all)

Comments are closed.