The sign outside the Century 21 building that sits on the eastern edge of the World Trade Center site says ‘New York’s Best Kept Secret,’ but once you enter this madhouse of shoppers looking for bargains, you’ll wonder who is it exactly that doesn’t know about this place? There’s a reason it’s crowded: several floors of designer men’s, ladies’ and children’s wear at slashed prices.
Come armed with patience and a clear head to sort through racks and racks of pants, tops, dresses, suits, ties, and shirts, and pay attention to the price tags: even though the discounts here can be two-thirds off the original price, they are still high when the list price for a dress is $1,100. Coming very early on a weekday is your best way to avoid a shopping meltdown if you’re prone to them.
Nordstrom Rack (pictured above) (60 E. 14th just off Broadway, Mon–Sat, 10am–10pm, Sun 11am–8pm) in Chelsea can be a less harried place to shop for discounted clothes, shoes, and handbags, but also requires patience and focus. Like Century 21, it features slashed prices on designer names, but there are more mass-market, therefore cheaper items. Avoid weekend afternoons.