Neighborhood: East Village
Type of Place: Women's Clothing Shoes

Funny how you can pass something many times without actually seeing it—and then, one day, there it is. Such was the case for me with Gabay's. How many times I must have walked past this long-established shop without noticing, until finally a lovely pair of shoes in the window, with an equally lovely price tag, caught my eye.

The shop's storefront is modest and utterly unflashy, so passersby might be forgiven for not taking instant note. Inside, too, things seem more Bargain Basement than Bergdorf's. But the lack of glitz contributes to the very deep savings you'll find here, on decidedly glam labels like Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, and Jimi Choo.

As I browse the racks, I learn that the shop has been in the Gabay family for three generations (the business was started when the family first immigrated from Hungary) and, amazingly, has been at this very location for 36 years. "We get most of our items from department store merchandise," the owner explains. "It's sort of like a treasure hunt here," he says, gesturing at the crowded aisles, "but you get used to it."

I certainly can imagine getting used to it. I cooed over some black suede flats with jeweled bead work from Proenza Schouler (department store $525, here $210) and a pair of hot pink Jimi Choo stilettos (dept. store $550, here $220). Though merchandise changes frequently, this was a good day for classic sweaters from Henri Bendel: a lovely navy wool model with elegantly sculpted sleeves was $45; a charming short-sleeved cashmere style with front pleats (perfect for these fall days) was $60 (originally $198, and available in cream, red, purple, mustard, or royal blue). A sleeveless gray sweater dress from Bendel (great for layering) was reduced from $278 to $100.

Due to the rapidly changing stock, this is more of a "See what's here" stop than an "I need exactly this" kind of thing. But I saw jackets, coats, sweaters, skirts, dresses, and men's sport coats, dress shirts, and polo shirts that all looked very worthy of investigation. (One men's paisley dress shirt from Etro was $115, reduced from $325.) And I didn't even have time to dive into the considerable collection of designer handbags.

This is a shop best visited when your time is ample; but you'll likely be rewarded. If it does feel like a treasure hunt, that's partly because it's offering some real treasures.
  - Pamela Grossman; Sept 28, 2009

225 1st Ave (13th and 14th St)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3180