How independent retailers are reviving New York’s South Street Seaport

Regular visitors to New York’s South Street Seaport area, pre-Hurricane Sandy in 2012, will know that while the area was not a luxury shopping destination like Fifth Avenue or a tourist hotspot like Times Square, it definitely had its charm.

The downtown commercial hotspot was full of brands like Gap, JCrew, Ann Taylor and in the mall on pier 17 were stores like Victoria’s Secret and Express, with their accessible price points. Being a historic district, the quaint little cobbled streets, and landmark buildings had lots of character and were a huge draw for tourists and school trips too. The waterside views of the Brooklyn Bridge added to the appeal of the area. But then in 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit and the area changed – the result of flooding rising over seven feet and ruining one of Manhattan’s oldest neighbourhoods.

The area was left pretty devastated, but in the last year the area has had a makeover, and it’s becoming a thriving hotspot for independent retailers, changing the commercial landscape of the area.

Gap, JCrew and Ann Taylor haven’t come back and it has made way for cool independent retailers, such as the Rialto Jean Project, to Seaport Studios (a concept store of independent design talent, complete with a cute coffee shop).

New NYFW designer Aurora James and her brand Brother Vellies are also there. Backstage at her AW16 we asked her about the rejuvenation of the area:

“It’s a really amazing neighbourhood and Emily Thompson is the person who created my set and her store is just around the corner from me. There’s a lot of really amazing female entrepreneurs there and its awesome.”

The area has also kept the vintage treasures that made it unique pre-Sandy such as Bowne & Co, the stationery store with an original printing press inside.

It’s an exciting time for the area, and with the main mall still under construction and rumours of new high-end culinary restaurants planned for the area, it’s set to become a must-visit destination.

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