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Canal Street Market Is Changing the Retail Landscape of Downtown Manhattan

Buzzing with press and holiday shoppers, Canal Street Market opened its doors last Thursday perfectly timed for holiday gifting season. A typical holiday market however, it is not. Crafty, tchotchke, vintage etc… these words are not to be associated with CSM’s wares. While the multi-vendor retail space supports artisanal and hand-made goods, the goods are curated and refined, think smooth wooden cutting boards and travel-sized bitters, not wire-wrapped gemstone jewellery and screen-printed T-shirts.

Open year-round, seven days a week, the market fills a void in downtown Manhattan’s retail scene, lending a space for independent retailers to reach new audiences while expanding the breadth of shopping options below Soho.

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For years, Canal Street has operated as the border between Soho and Chinatown, a stretch brimming with street vendors, and more often than not, associated with the business of counterfeit goods. While the shadow economy that made the street infamous has been downplayed in recent years, Canal Street and bordering Chinatown has largely remained an un-tapped retail area.

That’s part of what makes the arrival of Canal Street Market so compelling. Founded by real estate developer Philip Chong, the market was conceived when he noticed a lack of retail options on the street that catered to people that live and work in the area. “Canal Street’s retail has historically been positioned to serve the tens of thousand of tourists that walk the street everyday. Canal Street Market is a destination where both locals & tourists alike can find convenient alternatives to traditional restaurants and retail outlets in a space that feels uniquely Downtown New York,​” says Chong.

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Canal Street Market

The large storefront located at 265 Canal is immediately noticeable, the bright open space offering a rest for the eyes on street filled with busy storefronts. While the look of the space definitely stands out, the aim is to integrate into the neighbourhood, adding to the localised charm that keeps the area unique. It is in this spirit that CSM taps a large percent of their vendors from the New York area, supporting local businesses ranging from Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers Chocolate to New York’s own Office Magazine.

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Mast Brothers Chocolate

 

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Office Magazine Newsstand

The environment also serves as a cultural hub, promoting artists via in-house installations – replete with a fish-bowl style studio where you can actually see the artists at work. Currently on display is work from sculptor Stef Halmos, whose sculptures (and creative process) will be on display through December 10th.

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Stef Halmos Sculptures

The market operates on a revolving and evolving concept that keeps new vendors coming into the fold every few weeks. Anchor vendors such as Il Buco Vita, Keap Candles, Tracy Tanner and Upstate Stock will remain long-term tenants, while others will occupy the space on limited engagements – ensuring something new for each visit.

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Keap Candles

Among my favourites are these incredible colour-blocked rugs from Studio Proba, incense that makes your apartment smell of fresh cedar and sage from Norden and the most exotic looking flowers I’ve ever seen from Fox Fodder Farm Flowers. (They are a little more expensive than your typical bouquet but can last up to three weeks!)

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Studio Proba

 

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Norden Goods

 

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Fox Fodder Farm

 

Boasting a large newsstand and coffee shop curated by Office Magazine at the entrance of the store, look for the food and beverage portion of the market to expand considerably when the other half of the marketplace opens to a dedicated food hall in March.

Love travel? Love shopping? Follow Sidney on her retail adventures here.

Want more? Check out her monthly retail column here

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