Hudson Yards

Recently Hudson Yards, a complex that includes residences, offices, shops, restaurants and cultural institutions all encased among innovative architecture (innovative for NYC) has opened up to the general public.

The Local Artisan Guide feels its important for you to have information at your hand for shopping destinations whether its on a charming small dead end street or a multilevel complex. Hudson Yards is certainly the latter.

Located at West 34th Street and 11th Ave. (you can take the #7 train to Hudson Yards directly or a crosstown bus), Hudson Yards is where the MTA has housed subway cars for decades (still does). After exiting the highly stylized new subway station, you encounter a complex of new, cutting edge buildings that include residences, the Equinox Hotel, and a very upscale mall for New York City.

Hudson Yards include a complex of residences, office buildings, shops and The Equinox Hotel.

Hudson Yards include a complex of residences, office buildings, shops and The Equinox Hotel.

There is a structure outside the shops that looks like the skeletal system of a bug or artichoke called “The Vessel”. It is a piece that you can enter and explore from the inside (much like the Statue of Liberty). To enter you need to go onto Hudson Yards’s website www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com and reserve a time and day to enter the sculpture (its free). 

In the center of Hudson Yards you will encounter The Vessel, a sculpture you are allowed to enter and explore (tickets available for free online).

In the center of Hudson Yards you will encounter The Vessel, a sculpture you are allowed to enter and explore (tickets available for free online).

After exploring The Vessel you can head straight to the shops across the way. The main store here is department store Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus has never been situated in NYC (except for Neiman Marcus Last Call in Brooklyn) so in a city that has been losing iconic department stores for the last few years (Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel’s etc.) it is nice to have one that has a long reputable establish itself here. Neiman Marcus presents itself in a minimal way, there is no or little clutter. They offer a strongly curated assortment of established and emerging designers in its store. 

Neiman Marcus is the dominant department store at Hudson Yards, located on the third floor.

Neiman Marcus is the dominant department store at Hudson Yards, located on the third floor.

A view of The Vessel and the trains lined up in at Hudson Yards from the interior.

A view of The Vessel and the trains lined up in at Hudson Yards from the interior.

What is interesting in the consortium of stores in the Hudson Yards is its range. Here you can find high end brands such as Christian Dior and Cartier’s, to mid range brands like Kate Spade and Tori Burch all the way to H&M and Zara. All presented much like the high end malls you see in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. Downtown in the financial district you have a similar collection of stores in Battery Park City with high end brands, grand architecture, restaurants, hotels and residences all flowing into each other, yet at Hudson Yards there is a difference as the selection of stores at Hudson Yards has a curated feel to it. Besides the brands mentioned there are also more independent brands that you would find by strolling down the streets of Soho but you wouldn’t find their presence in American malls. These brands include Scanlan Theodore, M.Gemi and Hatch to name a few. 

Fendi is one the high end stores you will find at Hudson Yards amongst others.

Fendi is one the high end stores you will find at Hudson Yards amongst others.

Zara and H&M are some of the affordable stores you will find at Hudson Yards.

Zara and H&M are some of the affordable stores you will find at Hudson Yards.

Scanlan Theodore is one of the many independent brands that have opened in Hudson Yards.

Scanlan Theodore is one of the many independent brands that have opened in Hudson Yards.

Also unlike the malls in Asia or in Battery Park City, Hudson Yards strives to have something for everybody as shopping and eating there runs the gamut of all price ranges. You can find both high end restaurants and more affordable eating, like Shake Shack at Hudson Yards. 

Hudson Yards offers besides shops, multiple places of all price points to dine. Shake Shack is amongst food choices at Hudson Yards.

Hudson Yards offers besides shops, multiple places of all price points to dine. Shake Shack is amongst food choices at Hudson Yards.

Many of the shops have still yet to open at the Hudson yards. The experience of shopping at Hudson Yards is similar to the World Trade Center instead there the art structure is part of the interior shopping experience and in Hudson Yards its on the exterior of the building.  Hudson Yards incorporates art installations throughout the interior and exterior of the complex making for a cultural experience too.

Hudson Yards included art throughout the entire complex.

Hudson Yards included art throughout the entire complex.

Hudson Yards is bound to be a popular place to visit in the future, especially if you live there or are staying in Midtown when visiting NYC. It is definitely worth a visit.

By Natalie Rivera

Notable Gift Shops in NYC

Where best to find holiday gifts, especially last minute gifts? A store dedicated to the art of gift giving! Not a brand with a gift section, not a department store with a gift table, we are talking stores that search the world over for gifts or create gifts locally. Here The Local Artisan Guide list ten notable gift shops in New York City that we have come upon while we scour the city for local, independent businesses. The gift shops listed below will guarantee unique, thoughtful, local, artisanal gifts. Best is that every shop mentioned has very affordable items for everyone on your holiday list.

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TOP HAT GIFT SHOP - 245 Broome St., Lower East Side, NYC

Top Hat Gift Shop is the brainchild of Nina Allen which reflects her world travels and her love of modernist, eclectic gifts. You never really know what to expect here at Top Hat which features home goods, stationary, crafts and well…anything that strikes her fancy yet fits into the modern aesthetic of her shop.

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CW PENCIL ENTERPRISE - 15 Orchard St., Lower East Side, NYC

Pencils for a gift! Definitely if they come from CW Pencil Enterprise. CW offers the Cadillac of pencils in every color and grade. Plus in this charming shop you will find pencil accessories, stationary and items you never knew existed but you must have and gift to your loved ones once seen.

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YUNHONG CHOPSTICKS - 50 Mott Street, Chinatown, NYC

Yunhong Chopsticks offers just one thing in their shop, chopsticks. However they offer every variation and price point for their chopsticks. The chopsticks come in different materials, colors and set numbers. All beautifully packaged making for easy, unique gift giving.

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JOHN DERIAN COMPANY, INC. - 6 East 2nd St., East Village, NYC

John Derian has been a destination for the art of decoupage since 1989. You can easily lose a whole afternoon in Derian’s shop browsing through his many designs (which are all done locally a few blocks away in his studio). Derian has added some additional categories through the years including tabletop, small goods, candles, textiles, stationary and more.

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CHESS FORUM - 219 Thompson St., Greenwich Village, NYC

Looking for classic games like chess, backgammon, checkers, dominoes, Chinese chess and much more? Well at Chess Forum you find these items in all variations from casual gaming to over the top, high end sets. Charming part of Chess Forum is that they also have a chess parlor where you can come and for $5 play a game and increase your chess skills ($1 for seniors and kids play for free).

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CONSIDEROSITY - 131 West 4th St., Greenwich Village, NYC

Considerosity is the perfect gift shop for one stop shopping as you can most likely find something for everyone on your holiday list. Considerosity carries a selection of candles, soaps, jewelry, bags, accessories and more. The collection is comprised of a number of artisanal designers primarily from the New York area and around the country.

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THE MEADOW - 523 Hudson St., West Village, NYC

The Meadow was founded by Mark Bitterman in 2006 out of his love of travel, food and culture. He decided to open a shop to share his discoveries of craft made salts, gourmet chocolates, handmade cocktail bitters, accessories and gifts that every gourmand would love and treasure.

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EARTH SPEAKS - 139 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NYC

Earth Speaks is a boutique that offers an array of gifts such as terrariums and air plants, organic skin care products, terrarium jewelry, soap and candles-- all of which are made in-house at their shop in Brooklyn. Earth Speaks also offers locally made artisanal products such as paintings, pottery and jewelry.

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SWALLOW - 361 Smith St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC.

Having a hard time finding the perfect gift for that person in your life who has immaculate taste, style and aesthetics? Well Swallow may be the shop for you to find a highly curated gift they are sure to love and not try to return or regift. This petite boutique is full of vases, ceramics, bowls, wall hangings, decorative objects, crystals, sea glass, organic home decor and more. The gifts are so beautiful you will most likely want to keep them for yourself.

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UNION SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET - Union Square, Chelsea, NYC

Up until December 24th, Union Square Holiday Market is a a must-visit destination for unique gifts created by local craftsmen and artists. With dozens upon dozens of stands. Union Square Market offers up every possible category of gifts from jewelry, to leather goods, stationary, crafts, accessories, home decor, artisanal foods, toys, holiday decor, drinks, snacks and more.

This is New York City so this list is just the tip of the iceberg for unique gift giving but its the local artisanal tip recommended by The Local Artisan Guide so you know its well worth the advice and will also benefit the small, local businesses.

Happy Gift Giving!

By Natalie Rivera




The Truth Behind Counterfeit Stock

The Local Artisan Guide is fortunate enough to be based in downtown Manhattan, in the neighborhood of Soho which has great energy, stores, restaurants and some of the best residences in New York City. Soho is also surrounded by hotels, where you see countless tourists everyday exploring all New York has to offer. Usually their country’s currency is good for shopping in the United States so they have researched ahead of time premier shopping destinations that will give them more bang for their buck (or Pound, Yen, Euro). Soho, Century 21, Nolita, Williamsburg are on their list for shopping and finding great bargains however unfortunately so is an area right next to Soho which is Chinatown. 

Chinatown is a great destination in New York City to go to for delicious, affordable food, groceries, cultural shock and wares from Asia. However Chinatown is a destination for many tourist for all the wrong reasons.

Bus loads of tourists make their way to Canal Street and Chinatown every day in New York City to look for inexpensive souvenirs of NYC which are aplenty but even more notorious in this part of town is that Chinatown, especially Canal Street is the mecca for counterfeit products.

Handbags, luggage, watches, fragrances, sunglasses etc. are all counterfeit. They are copies of the most well known international brands in the world; Prada, Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Tumi, etc. Street hawkers will whisper to you as you go by to look at their wares, they will even invite you into backroom areas to see more high end product they swear are real. If you walk away they will start haggling with you to close the deal.

A view of the counterfeit shops that line Canal St. in Chinatown, NYC and their wares. Hopefully froggy is legitimate.

A view of the counterfeit shops that line Canal St. in Chinatown, NYC and their wares. Hopefully froggy is legitimate.

If you think for one second that the product is genuine or it doesn’t matter purchasing counterfeit products, let me remove all doubt and ignorance so you don’t even begin to justify that you are just getting a bargain or paying what you think is fair and the large multinational conglomerates will not miss a penny.

Counterfeit fragrances sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Counterfeit fragrances sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

The main bulk of the counterfeit products come from China. China is a master of illegally counterfeiting product. As most mass retailers have their products made in China, there is a culture of factories replicating and selling the products domestically and internationally at a dramatic cut cost in black markets across the world. Many so called reputable factories in China will produce legitimate products legally and near by have a sister factory producing the same stolen designs and intellectual property illegally. 

Counterfeit handbags and watches sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Counterfeit handbags and watches sold on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

As a former product development manager who had to travel frequently to Asia to review the product I was developing, I saw whole shopping plazas in China with stores that were all counterfeit. I even once found a store in China that had the name of the brand I was working for even though we did not have a brick and mortar store in the United States. As I looked into the windows of the closed shop, I saw a mixture of our handbag designs and their own designs but with our leathers and fabric patterns. The shop actually looked quite nice and luxurious. However it was all counterfeit. There was a fake Donna Karan shop, fake Calvin Klein, fake Pucci, etc., etc..

Here is what you are contributing to when you buy counterfeit items; besides depriving well known brands of your money for their products, when you buy counterfeit you are contributing to child slavery, dangerous work conditions, poor salaries with workers that have little or no rights plus a multitude of other labor violations. You see, when a factory is illegal there is no regulation of any kind. It is a sweat shop where the government or social compliance auditors cannot oversee to make sure there is a safe, humane labor practice occurring. 

Do not try to fool yourself for one minute that this is not the case no matter what the hawker will tell you. Unfair circumstances that we cannot imagine happening are occurring all over the world and when you buy counterfeit product you are not only contributing to it you are encouraging it.

Some of the counterfeit handbag brands sold on the street on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Some of the counterfeit handbag brands sold on the street on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

All over the world there are areas like Canal St. that specialize in selling counterfeit items. Once while I was in Florence, Italy walking down one of the streets that legitimately sold the high end accessories brands of the world, I noticed right after the shops closed, immigrant hawkers came and laid out the same counterfeit bags that you saw in the store windows on the ground and for a fraction of their retail cost. It was very bold. Yet still counterfeit.

There are even seemingly nice, legitimate stores in Soho that have a mix of genuine vintage high end handbags and what they claim are an overstock of “it bags”. These bags are very easy to fool even a trained eye. They have quality raw materials, follow the designs of “it bags” and copy the packaging of the bags to the tee. They even have the cards with the certification copied down expertly. If you see a vintage Chanel that you are quite sure is legitimate, why wouldn’t you think the Celine bag that is just a few feet away, still in new condition not real? Be warned these bags are not $100, they are sold for over $1000 and more as they are claiming the product is new or overstock. Remember if its too good to be true, it usually is.

Police raids on vendors selling counterfeit product on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

Police raids on vendors selling counterfeit product on Canal St., Chinatown, NYC.

There are frequent raids on Canal St., but the norm is to see sellers are out in the open hawking their wares which makes a tourist think that this is quite legal. However you as the shopper can also get in trouble for obtaining illegal counterfeit product so is it really worth it? Some countries in Europe will give you a ridiculously high fine if they catch you with counterfeit product when you come into customs. If you have any questions on whether a product is counterfeit or not, you can call customer service of the brand you are questioning or Google as there are many articles and sites that teach you how to determine if a product is legitimate or not and how to avoid counterfeits.

So whether its a keychain, handbag, watch or whatever you see hawked on Canal St., Chinatown, (or anywhere around the world that have similar markets) The Local Artisan Guide wants you to remember if you read this article you now know the truth and your decisions are now informed decisions. What kind of world that you would like to contribute to?

No excuses.

By Natalie Rivera

We Are Going Live...

But we still have quite a ways to go. 

Almost a year is upon us as we started social media for The Local Artisan Guide and we are now going live to show you some of the neighborhoods in New York City that we have been exploring and carefully curating for the discerning shopper. More neighborhoods will be added in the future and more stores, boutiques, artisans and smaller brands will be added on a daily basis. 

Plus besides Brick & Mortar shops will be soon be adding on a daily basis a "Local Artisan Brand" which are brands that operate with an online site or are wholesale. Future cities both domestic and overseas will be added and we are currently working on our app. The app will help you not only find the artisan of your choosing but will help you organize your speciality shopping finds, be apart of a rewards program, use your social media to highlight your finds and most of all shine a light on artisans, sustainability and giving back to the community. We are designing the app to be fun to use and share.

In the meantime please follow us on social media (links below), join our newsletter and any feedback, comments, questions inquiries will be greatly appreciated.

We will start having more blogs, interviews and video added to our site plus collaborations and promotional events.

We are very excited and we hope you are too. So if you don't want to walk in a room and find someone else dressed the same as yourself in head to toe Prada, are environmentally conscious of the impact "fast fashion" has in our world and love being an individual in your style both in fashion, beauty and home we are the site for you. 

Natalie Rivera

Founder, The Local Artisan Guide