Every morning, to make it down to the West Village for work, I hop on the cross-town bus and catch the 1 train, where I grab a copy each of AM New York and Metro, the two widely distributed free NYC newspapers. These freebies deliver all the local, regional, national, and international news highlights in just a few pages, concerning everything that’s happened during the past twenty-four hours from Midtown to Mumbai — ensuring that you’re prepared for the daily elevator chitchat by the time you’ve arrived at your respective workplace come 9 a.m.
Now, in addition to the abundant blocks of news briefs, there are the standard newspaper sections, including Sports, Style, Health, etc. — all to which I give a periphery glance through (though, of course, lingering more on the Style tidbits). However, at times, my eye catches a breathtaking island scene in the Travel section, beckoning my gaze and sending me into brief daydreams on my block-length walk from the subway exit to my office building, in which I imagine myself with a cold cocktail in hand, sunbathing in a Michael Kors swimsuit, listening to the waves of the Atlantic lapping up on the shore of some Caribbean Island. (I’ve always had a soft spot for warm weather and tropical breezes — and apparel!)
However, on this particular morning a few weeks back, my eye caught something a little more comforting than an isolated lounge chair on a white sandy beach — it was a photo of a certain Main Street that instantly brought back warm, happy memories… of home. That morning’s Travel section was highlighting none other than Beacon as its hotspot destination. From little eateries, to galleries, and artsy shops — the profile of the Hudson Valley river town was so unbelievably charming! I’d nearly forgotten how delightful the outer regions of New York City truly are. And even though I’ve been an official city dweller for just a few months, after reading the page-spread on the Mid-Hudson Valley city, it was shocking to see how much I’ve missed my local environs.
I took time to reflect on my whirl-wind city life: the late-night dining and even later night partying, complemented by all-day weekend shopping jaunts and after-work retail runs at all of the utterly mainstream merchandisers that line the streets of the nearby neighborhoods. (I can honestly say I never take for granted my easy access to the five Zara stores within a one-mile radius, close proximity to more than half a dozen H&M shops, nor walking distance to practically every couture designer American flagship store you can think of.)
Alas, how much chain-store shopping can a girl do? I had really forgotten what a magnificent place the Valley is — and not just because of its scenery and history. How lucky I am to still have maintained (relative) nearness to — and extensive knowledge of — what is really at the heart of America’s retail industry (well, at least in my mind): the local mom-and-pop boutiques.
At these small, well-stocked storefronts that dot the Hudson Valley region, you’re always sure to find everything from handmade wares to the latest designer duds, in an atmosphere that, in my opinion, even the most coveted SoHo boutique does not — and cannot — surpass. At our beloved Valley stores, owners seem to pour their energy and passion into helping the customer find that special outfit. They are not the detached retail giants that overrun not only 34th Street, but strip-shopping centers and malls nationwide.
So, here is to all that the Valley offers: the finest, friendliest service and the greatest, most unique items around. If you hail from Manhattan and are looking for a little getaway, take my advice and head north to one of the great river towns of the Valley: Beacon, Hudson, New Paltz, Nyack, and all of the many other small, albeit magnificent-in-their-own-right towns that have left a lasting impression on me — and made their mark on the American shopping culture. Or, if you’re from the area, take advantage of your surroundings and spend a lazy Saturday wandering the Main Street of these charming towns, stopping in the locally owned and operated boutiques, where you’ll find everything that’s not available at the large malls or highly mainstream Manhattan retailers:
Bop to Tottom
Woodstock Trading Post
My Sister’s Closet
Of course, these are just a handful of my personal faves. What’s your favorite Hudson Valley shop? (Comment below…)