The Best Shopping Experiences in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Flea Fort Greene

Evanscott7/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Brooklyn is a terrific place to shop. It's a very different experience from both Manhattan's SoHo or Fifth Avenue, and in a different league from suburban shopping. As it's not always obvious where to go for what kinds of things—and Brooklyn's always changing—here's a quick run-down of places to look for specific types of shopping experiences.

Explore Brooklyn's Neighborhoods

Half the fun of Brooklyn is exploring the neighborhoods. Walk around some neighborhoods and explore the little stores! In general, the best bets are Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Williamsburg. But Brooklyn's a big place, and one can find interesting shopping in many other neighborhoods, including wonderful nuggets such as Irish stores in Bay Ridge and immigrant-run food shops along Ocean Avenue.

Vintage and Bespoke Goods

If you're looking for vintage, the best two places to hunt are in various shops in Williamsburg (check out the best vintage shops in Williamsburg, and pay a visit to Brooklyn Flea, a very popular moveable market with lovely, but not cheap, vintage goods. Brooklyn doesn't have a fine antique neighborhood, as some other cities do.

Check out the furniture stores on Atlantic Avenue for some antique shops on the stretch between Smith and Nevins Streets.

National Brand Stores

For national brands like Target, Sephora, Victoria's Secret, and DSW, head to the conveniently located Atlantic Center shopping center or one of the many malls in Brooklyn. All offer a good selection of mid-priced stores and discount chain stores like Marshall's, too.

New York is a walking town and most everyone wears sneakers. Shoppers will find trendy sneaker shops aplenty at all malls, with urban trendsetting sneakers showing up early at Fulton Mall. Snipes, on Flatbush Avenue next to Barclays Center, has a wide selection of shoes and Kith, a haven for high-end streetwear releases, is just down the street.

IKEA in the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook is a huge attraction and can be reached by bus, car, or ferry from Manhattan. The new City Point shopping center in Downtown Brooklyn has a Target, a McNally Jackson, and a sprawling underground food hall called DeKalb Market.

Brooklyn bridge flea market
Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images

Specialized and Craft Markets

Brooklyn enjoys a lively market scene and the single best time of year to enjoy Brooklyn's market scene is in the month of December when Brooklyn's many holiday markets spring up in schools, concert halls, and plazas. But May is also a good market month, with DUMBO's Shop the Archway festival and one of several annual art shows by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists' Coalition.

Every week, Brooklyn Flea offers both curated vintage and second-hand goods, as well as excellent farm-to-table food in DUMBO. The outdoor market featuring vendors selling their wares on weekends from April through December. A few weekly flea markets round out the options.

Each year the Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts the DanceAfrica Bazaar, drawing thousands of visitors to check out the wares of more than 150 vendors. Finally, the famous outdoor Brooklyn Book Festival, an annual weekend event with a market feel, is a testament to Brooklyn's lively culture of writers and readers.

Unusual Items

For women's clothing, children's boutiques, and tasteful home furnishings check out the stores lining Fifth Avenue in Park Slope as well as those on Smith or Court Streets in Carroll Gardens.

Head to Bedford and Grand Avenues in Williamsburg for hipster clothes and a general aesthetic. For equally hip clothes, some with African imported materials, walk up Fulton Street in Fort Greene.

Inexpensive children's gear and adult clothing are readily available on Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, which is also home to the massive Industry City shopping complex and a Costco.

For a range of well-priced, conservative clothing as well as women's hats, wigs, long coats, children's dressy clothing, kid's gear and shoes (and anything kosher), take a trip to the orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Borough Park (but don't go late on Friday afternoon or on Saturday, when everything is closed).

Buy Hand Made from Local Artists

Brooklyn is home to Etsy, the popular online marketplace, and many neighborhood stores sell unique, handmade clothing, gift items, jewelry, and household items from pottery to pillows, created by local artists and artisans.

Good neighborhoods to look for stores carrying such items are Williamsburg, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, and Prospect Heights. The annual Waterfront Artists Coalition and galleries in Bushwick and DUMBO are wonderful places to see the work of local sculptors, painters, and artists.

Bedford Cheese Shop
LWYant / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Specialty Food Stores

Don't miss the tiny stretch of Atlantic Avenue off Clinton Street that's long been a center for Middle Eastern foods (notably Sahadi's with its large selection of spices, coffee, and more).

Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint is a good place to get some Polish kielbasa and bread. Italian food is available everywhere in Brooklyn, but some excellent old meat markets, bread and pastry shops still dot 13th Avenue and the environs of Dkyer Heights and Bensonhurst.

Brooklyn still has vestiges of the borough's original Irish and Norwegian immigrants in food stores in Bay Ridge. Pockets of Coney Island Avenue are home to ethnically authentic Pakistani and halal stores, and Caribbean fare can be found throughout Flatbush. There are ethnic restaurants as well, from Irish to African restaurants, serving specialties from home.

Other specialty food shops include chocolatiers in DUMBO, Park Slope, and Williamsburg; several famous bakeries from Steve's Key Lime Pie to Baked in Red Hook, Gowanus, and Williamsburg; and numerous organic meat and food markets in Park Slope and Williamsburg. As for bagels and pizza, one could write a book with all the options in Brooklyn