Main streets, malls and shopping centers are, of course, the mainstays of the shopping world, and they can be wonderful. But sometimes, well, taking an unlikely detour can lead to resources that surprise and delight. So we took our own little field trip on some roads less traveled and discovered fun new shopping spots and services in unexpected spaces.
Carrie’s Closet, 49 South Mall, Plainview; 516-586-6533; carriesclosetshop.com Optimism dims on the ride through this somewhat gritty industrial park past a steel company, automotive parts joint and even a vacuum-repair service. But at the very end of the road, find Carrie’s Closet, a 2,600-square-foot warehouse where a cheery atmosphere and a huge collection of on-trend boho styles contrast with the store’s cinder-block walls, cement floor and garage door.
Owner Carrie Needelman, 52, who this day dons an oversized patchwork vest, jeans and a camo cap, says she got into fashion because “people always loved my sense of style. I could wear a floral pant with a plaid shirt and they would say, ‘I love the way you dress.’ ” Years ago she began hunting down bargains and selling them on eBay. Then she started selling pieces from her home by appointment only. “I’d put photos up on Facebook and I couldn’t keep people out of my house. It was chaos. They were changing in my living room and kitchen.” At the time, she had a few thousand Facebook likes. Today the likes have reached 60,000.
Carrie Needelman's hippie clothes store is located in a 2,600-square-foot warehouse chockfull of boho-inspired clothes.
Club & Country
Club & Country, 57 Hillside Ave., Manhasset; 516-365-8812. In a square brick office/house hybrid, this cozy shop on an off-the-beaten-path side street has been serving women of a certain age for a decade. But owner Blanche Smith, 90, has been dressing women for almost 50 years. She began her business in an attic, her mission to provide luxurious clothes for the country-club set. “At that time, women dressed. They wore pretty dresses to luncheons, nice shoes and jewelry,” Smith says. “There was a real need for very high-end clothes.” Besides the regular inventory, she shopped for customers, sourcing luxury looks from the likes of Geoffrey Beene, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, and for special events, she still sometimes does that.
Fashionable at any age
When Smith first opened her shop, "women didn’t just put on a pair of jeans and a top,” she says. Today they do. So with the help of her daughters, Laura Chase Rosenberg, 64, and Susan Gold, 68, the store has morphed into a casual clothing haven for women “ages 40 to 100,” Rosenberg says. “Some women don’t like to shop at a department store." Smith says. "They find it overwhelming. Here they poke around a little. We get to know their taste, and we bring them what we think looks good on them.”
Clothes at Club & Country are modern but not edgy and are reasonably priced. There are crisp cotton tees, cushy cashmere sweaters, smart tailored jackets and a great selection of premium denim -- more forgiving models that feature higher rises for ease of fit. Throwback services like packing and closet organization are still offered. But Smith says the secret to the store’s success and longevity is, “We’re honest. We tell our customers the truth about how something looks and they trust us.”
The Student Body Boutique
The Student Body Boutique, Hillwood Commons, LIU Post, Brookville; 516-299-3761. You don’t have to be a college student to visit this store, set on the second floor of Hillwood Commons, the student community center at LIU Post. And don’t expect to find a bunch of standard college logo duds here, either. This sunny, well-merchandised clothing and jewelry boutique with goods curated from all over the country is run, managed and operated by LIU students with a focus on the school’s fashion-merchandising majors.
LIU Post students have stocked the store with well-priced and trend-worthy yoga pants, lightweight layering tees, makeup bags, jean jackets, an excellent selection of costume jewelry and roomy fringed pocketbooks. There’s even a small menswear section. The clever, cute mix runs from $2.99 to $85 and a portion of profits go to student scholarships.
Learn by doing
Cherie Serota, a fashion-merchandising professor who mentors the students, compares the shop to a “laboratory.” Students, she says, attend trade shows, do the buying and create a business plan as a final project. “This is all about experiential learning,” she says. Definitely worth a trip and, while you’re at it, bring along your tweens and teens to get a taste of that cool college vibe.
V & A Jewelers
V & A Jewelers, Room G, The Waterfront at Roslyn, 55 Lumber Rd., Roslyn; 516-621-1854. This funky building is set beneath the Roslyn Viaduct houses along with other businesses including a gym, ballroom dance studio, hairdresser and a hip party space, along with — surprise — a watchmaker. Vahram “Walter” Minassian, 71, who has occupied his tiny space here for just a few months, is an old-school watchmaker who learned his craft in Bulgaria and brought his skills to this country 48 years ago. For more than 25 years, Minassian served his customers from a boxy kiosk set in the middle of a parking lot at Green Cove Plaza in Greenvale (near a bagel store and a body-waxing studio).
Minassian has served the watch needs of many families for generations. “Some of my clients were little children when I met them. Now they’re married and have little children of their own,” he says. He generates business only by word-of-mouth and fixes everything from Timex to Rolex at reasonable prices. He’ll do just about anything when it comes to watches, from replacing a battery ($10-$25) to overhauling an entire timepiece, which could run up to $1,000 or more.