I Buy My Sunglasses at Night

Is night-shopping the new bar-hopping?

Sometimes, after a long week of slaving away in a cubicle, squeezing into a steamy bar full of strangers is the least relaxing image you can think of. Especially as it gets warmer, who wants to go from one airless box to another? But most young New Yorkers are hard-pressed to think of evening activities aside from eating, drinking, shows, and movies. Retailers, on the other hand, are onto us.

Shopping hours have been expanded across the board in the last several years, with most department stores and large chains staying open until 8 p.m. all week, and later on Friday and Saturday nights. Many of us work so late that it only seems fair. The surprising thing is that shopping is the perfect evening activity. Stores tend to be less crowded and, unlike a hangover, you can always take it back. One's best bets for night shopping are chains like H&M and Urban Outfitters, both of which keep certain locations open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and both are fantastic spots for a quick impulse buy.

Smaller stores, owned by individuals rather than corporations, are less likely to have extended hours. But some vintage spots, especially those in lively neighborhoods like the East Village and the Lower East Side, take advantage of the foot traffic and become pre-party hangouts. A Repeat Performance, Marmalade, and Metropolis are some of our favorite examples. All are open until at least 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday night-shopping fever at Metropolis
photo: Nina Lalli
Saturday night-shopping fever at Metropolis

What's that? You shoveled a bowl of pasta in your face right after work? That's perfectly understandable. But perhaps this is not a happy time to be trying on clothes. Beauty products, on the other hand, are the ultimate impulse buy and a fun night-shopping option. Chains such as Origins, Sephora, and Ricky's all stay open (check the location nearest you) until at least 10 p.m. and as late as midnight.

If you're on a date, clothing and makeup may not be appealing for all involved, though, if your significant other is rich, you can pretend you're cold and try to get an American Apparel sweatshirt out of it (have some drinks first—the East Houston location is open till 1 a.m.). Indulge your geeky boyfriend's love for robots and comic books at Forbidden Planet, which stays open till midnight. And for those without a date, you can always take home a good book instead: Head to St. Mark's Bookstore (open until midnight every night of the week).

 
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