Manhattan remains one of the world’s premier shopping destinations. This is thanks to the many inspiring small-business owners who are not only persevering through economic turmoil but furthering their work to make New York City a vibrant metropolis.
Treat yourself to some of Manhattan’s best shopping at the five BIPOC-owned stores below. They represent a cross section of NYC businesses that carry one-of-a-kind finds while also giving back to their communities.
Pearl River Mart
395 Broadway, Chinatown/Tribeca
When news broke that Pearl River Mart was being forced to vacate its Chinatown flagship, New Yorkers were devastated. The family-run department store, founded by Ming Yi and Ching Yeh Chen in 1971, has moved a few previous times but always remained a center for Asian culture and creativity. Fortunately, they’ve secured a new location in Soho, at 452 Broadway, that should debut by late April—and the current spot will likely remain open until a week or two before.
Despite dealing with the setbacks of the pandemic, Pearl River stepped up to help save Chinatown’s many struggling businesses. In 2020, it launched the Chinatown Collection, consisting of merchandise from local businesses such as Xi’an Famous Foods and Kopitiam, plus Pearl River’s namesake line, that you can still get your hands on. All of the proceeds go toward supporting NYC’s Chinatown and to various charities that provide neighborhood relief.
House of Waris Botanicals
463 W. 24th St., Chelsea
Man about town Waris Ahluwalia is known for many things, including acting roles in Wes Anderson films and starring spots in ad campaigns for Gap and J. Lindeberg. In 2007, he launched House of Waris, a design practice that began with refined, handcrafted jewelry. It has evolved to reflect Ahluwalia’s current passion: wellness.
In 2019, he opened the doors to House of Waris Botanicals, a Chelsea shop that promotes mindfulness and self-care through botanical blends of tea. Love Conquers All and Immunity One, two of their “adaptogenic” offerings, contain herbs such as shatavari and cordyceps that are typically used in Eastern medicinal practices. Besides those and a line of herbal teas, the shop carries small items like hand-dyed face masks, made with indigo from Thailand’s Sakon Nakhon province—for each mask sold, another is donated to the Bowery Mission.
Be sure to give House of Waris Botanicals a follow on Instagram, where the shop has highlighted BIPOC creatives through series like its digital Dinner Club, which invites notable chefs (Roze Traore and Danny Bowien are just a few) to share recipes and speak on wellness; although that specific program is on hold, others are in the works. Note that for the moment, you can only buy from the store online; they hope to reopen the physical location in late May or early June 2021.
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center
1942 Amsterdam Ave., Washington Heights
In 2000, Janifer P. Wilson opened Sister’s Uptown after recognizing the lack of bookstores serving her Washington Heights neighborhood. Seven years later, she added a cultural center to the shop and, along with daughter Kori, has created a space for community and inclusiveness.
Sister’s Uptown focuses on African American literature and BIPOC authors for all age groups. During the pandemic, the Wilsons began organizing virtual book clubs to champion authors who are deeply engaged in multiculturalism and identity politics, such as Tony Hillery (Harlem Grown) and Cynthia Pong (Don’t Stay in Your Lane: The Career Change Guide for Women of Color). Check out the shop’s Instagram feed for upcoming programming.
Galleria on Third
529 Third Ave., Murray Hill
At 17, Shadin Hossain left his native Bangladesh to settle in New York City, where his passion for the arts unexpectedly turned into his profession. After visiting the Omega Art Gallery, a small business located in the Upper East Side that specializes in art framing and restoration, he ended up apprenticing there. In 1999, Hossain opened Galleria on Third, a custom framing and art gallery in Murray Hill.
His varied clientele includes students, seasoned art collectors and interior designers. They value not only Hossain’s expertise in art and museum framing, restoration and repair but also his passion for giving back. Hossain’s philanthropic work includes hosting art shows and events—attracting celebrities like Salman Rushdie and Carson Kressley—to benefit various charities, including World Vision and Smile Train. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, he currently offers all frontline medical workers free framing for letter-size pieces.
332 W. 13th St., Meatpacking District
Telsha Anderson planned on opening the doors to her boutique, T.A., last March. Though the pandemic required a quick pivot to an online-only format for the first few months, she persevered and launched the brick-and-mortar in July. In less than a year, both Anderson and the shop have become go-tos among fashion insiders.
The concept store carries contemporary labels from around the world that offer a mix of womenswear and unisex pieces. The shop is a great place to discover up-and-coming brands by BIPOC designers, including Barragán, Private Policy and Ashya.
Anderson's presence on social media is equally inviting. Beyond her beautifully curated Instagram grid, you’ll find her supporting other Black-owned businesses and profiling BIPOC makers in her Meet The Designer series. You can also catch Anderson speaking with publications like Essence and The Business of Fashion on entrepreneurship and overcoming adversity.