Vintage Boutique Tour – Erin Go Braugh!

Friday’s Vintage Boutique Tour was really a lot of fun. I knew the tourists were going to be from Ireland but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It ended up being three ladies on a girlfriend getaway for the weekend. One of them currently lives in Seattle, Washington, so she met the other two, who still reside in Ireland, “halfway” in NYC.

When I arrived at the pick-up location I was happy to see three ladies. I don’t mind having men on my tours (especially the Vintage Boutique Tour since there’s a pretty big selection for men in most of the boutiques) but I knew that if my customers were ladies, they were more likely to be there by choice.

I knew this was going to be a good tour because when I started the tour videos of the Soho stores, they were super-excited about what they saw and they couldn’t wait to shop.

First stop was Flying A and they started shopping immediately when they walked in the door. They were picking up items to try on in the dressing rooms, trying on accessories, etc. I was glad to have them stay at their first stop for 30 minutes because I knew that they had a true interest in what I was showing them. Sometimes when people aren’t shopping, I wonder if they aren’t liking the tour, if they were expecting something different, etc. I think the case lately for non-shoppers is simply that they enjoy browsing and they want a unique experience of the city. Also-with the suffering economy, it’s definitely understandable when people don’t want to buy. If the economy were booming, I would expect pretty much all of my customers to spend money on my tours. But in this difficult time, I (along with the boutique owners, sales associates) completely understand and expect it.

So after Flying A, we headed over to Chelsea Girl Couture where they tried on some truly amazing vintage dresses. This store never ceases to amaze me with their absolutely stunning collection. David, the store manager, is also a gem when it comes to selling vintage. He has an amazing knowledge of the business and really enhances my vintage tours both in the videos and in person. The ladies had a ball trying on several dresses each. One of the ladies made a purchase and despite a slight misunderstanding about the discount, left the store very pleased.

So following Chelsea Girl we, of course, visited their other store, Laurel Canyon Vintage. Laurel Canyon is geared toward more of a college customer, but still, they have some really great 60s and 70s apparel that can appeal to appeal to all ages. After a quick stop, the ladies decided they were ready to head to the East Village.

Once again, on the way, watching the store videos got them excited about what was coming up next (especially AuH20.) First stop was East 11th Street, as usual. They took a strong liking to Tokyo Joe’s, which is really well known for their amazing collection of designer consignment such as YSL, Prada, Fendi, Ferragamo, and Louis Vuitton, to name a few. When I saw that they were loving these consignment items, I knew that they would absolutely love Tokio 7. So I let them know in advance about it so they didn’t spend all their money in one place. Again, that’s one great thing about a small group. I can actually cater to their preferences.

We made a quick stop at O Mistress Mine since they loved the video of it and I spoke so highly of the owner, Wanda. They didn’t make any purchases here but were still highly impressed with the collection. I knew they had their heart set on the designer consignment so I suggested we head to Tokio 7 next and they strongly agreed.

We stopped along the way on East 9th Street at Mudd Coffee for a bathroom break and a pick-me-up. Mudd Coffee is amazing at giving a late afternoon boost. The Irish ladies even said so themselves.

When we arrived at Tokio 7, I waited outside with their coffees (it was a beautiful day) while they browsed around consignment “heaven.” Almost 45 minutes later, they walked out with items like a beautiful Chloe handbag and an elegant pair of Chloe dress pants among several other items.

Last stop was AuH20. After seeing the video of it, they were very excited to visit Kate’s unique boutique. They tried on quite a few vintage and recycled items and made several purchases. Kate, being her sweet self, was very happy to have them. And it was great seeing her new space (she moved to the boutique next door from where she was originally.) I also had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the new boutique next door who carries some amazing handbags that are made in New York. I may end up working with her too!

After the East Village, they asked if I could drop them off on 46th Street at Bourbon Street, where their other friends were having drinks. I was happy to do it since it was just the three of them.

I think they had a lovely time. They gave me a lot of compliments and they were very curious as to how I started my business, when I came to NY, where in the city I lived, etc. So it was another success, I hope. As usual, I’ll patiently await the reviews!

For more info about my shopping tours and my upcoming web series, visit www.shop-nyctours.com. Hopefully I’ll be shopping with you soon!

Private Shopping Tour for “New to the City” Local

Saturday’s tour was definitely a nice surprise. I’m so accustomed to giving tours for people from other parts of the country and especially other parts of the world that when I asked my customers where they were from (a cute, 20-something couple), I expected to hear the same. But I didn’t. I was shocked when the girlfriend said she lived on the Upper East Side. I always thought my tours would be great for locals, but it was cool to have a local finally attend one of my shopping tours. It made much more sense, however, when she told me that she had just moved to NYC and didn’t know where to go for shopping, dinner and nightlife. So “New to the City” is a customer base that I’ve now experienced. It was definitely different, but also relatively easy and fun.

Even though the girlfriend lives in NYC, and her boyfriend visits her from Philly every weekend and they explore together, the couple needed some guidance about where to shop, go to dinner, go out, etc. They knew about some of the obvious places, of course, but seemed really impressed with my extensive knowledge about the more “local” side of the city. They asked how it was that I knew so much and I explained that having lived in the city for five years and having given tours for four of those five years, definitely helped.
We started the tour in Greenwich Village on University Place. Some of the girlfriend’s favorites included Pia and La Petite Coquette. Well, at least that’s where she made her purchases. Her boyfriend seemed to enjoy La Petite Coquette too, of course. I mean, what guy doesn’t enjoy shopping for lingerie for his lovely lady? They were looking for some coffee along the way and I told them about one of my favorites – Grey Dogs: great coffee, great sandwiches and a great chill, downtown atmosphere.
Next up was Soho, and what was great about the tour being private for just the two of them, was that I could cater to their taste and their needs. Rather than taking them to the more commercial stores in Soho that I usually take customers to on the Chic Boutique Tour like BCBG, Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui, I decided that they’d like something a little more unique. So I added some vintage and consignment shops that my Vintage Boutique Tour visits in West Soho. They really liked INA (well, at least the girlfriend did) and the boyfriend seemed to enjoy the selections in Flying A. I thought they would have a little more interest in Laurel Canyon Vintage but it wasn’t one of their favorites.
After shopping, I pointed out 60 Thompson as a great spot for happy hour and/or dinner. I raved about their rooftop bar which I’ve never been to personally, but have heard amazing things about.
I insisted after the Soho stop that we visit Darling in the West Village/Meatpacking area. I had gotten a sense of the girlfriend’s style and knew she would absolutely love it. So they enjoyed their champagne en route in the comfortable towncar and I took a cute photo of them. I also showed the video of Darling, but I’m not sure if they really got the point of it–or the point of any of the tour videos for that matter. We’ll see what they have to say in their review, I guess.
When we arrived at Darling, the girlfriend tried on about 10 different items. Her boyfriend sneaked one to the register to surprise her for the next day, which I thought was sweet. The boyfriend, who was from Naples, said they wanted wood-fired brick oven pizza, so I dropped them off at Napoli on Carmine Street at the end of the tour so that they could have an amazing pizza dinner.
I’m anxious to hear what this couple thought of the tour. They were trendy, young and hip so they could end up being a very difficult customer to please. I’m hoping they decide to write a review so I can post it. I’d love to get their feedback. In my experience, locals can be tough. But I guess I’ll just wait and see….. Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to visit my website http://www.shop-nyctours.com and stay tuned for the new ShopNYC Web Series coming soon!

Vintage Boutique Tour Review

I was happy to find out that my “Last Weekend’s Vintage and Teen Tours Were a Success” statement was true.  Here’s a review from one of my customers that attended the Vintage Boutique Tour:

The tour was better than expected. Our guide was very personable, informative, and accommodating. She provided interesting facts about the neighborhoods along the way as well as the shops we visited, and showed us introductory videos of some. The store keepers were friendly, and we never felt rushed or pressured. There was a good mix of clothing styles, price ranges, and aesthetic presentations to hold our interest. My thirteen year-old granddaughter said it was one of her favorite parts of our NYC trip. We had a great time on the tour and got an insider view of some of the city’s most famous neighborhoods that we would not otherwise have had.

Last Weekend’s Vintage and Teen Tours were a Success!

ShopNYC Tours is starting to pick up with the season!  Last Friday I gave a Vintage Boutique Tour for a grandmother and her granddaughter and last Saturday, I gave a tour for two eager teenagers.  Both groups were a lot of fun and came from totally different backgrounds.

The Vintage Boutique gals were from San Diego.  It was the granddaughter’s first time to the Big Apple and she was researching design schools since she wants to be a fashion designer.  They were very in-the-know about the fashion world, which helped the tour along nicely.  They were really pleased to have transportation provided with the tour since they were exhausted from running around the city for a week!  They also enjoyed watching the tour videos.  (I show 1-2 minutes videos with interviews of store managers/owners/sales associates highlighting the latest items and best sellers.)  
The first stop was Soho.  They were super excited to visit INA since I mentioned that some of the apparel worn in “Sex and the City” was sent there and sold for consignment prices, which is usually a third of what these items normally cost.  Still, although these are consignment pieces, they are mostly designer consignment, which ends up being costly, but at the same time, will last forever!  If you spend $500 on a coat at INA or $300 on a handbag, these are items that you will keep forever.  They also immensely enjoyed Chelsea Girl Couture, which is filled with feminine frocks including never-been-worn Diane Von Furstenburg and their best-selling Moon Bags.  Laurel Canyon Vintage and Flying A are a little more casual, which wasn’t really their style, but they still visited and enjoyed browsing.
After Soho, I took them to the East Village where they had a great time visiting O Mistress Mine, where they bought some amazing vintage jewelry and a timeless vintage sweater.  The granddaughter also enjoyed Buffalo Exchange where she found some super-discounted tops and a dress.  As a teenager on a tight budget, Buffalo Exchange was definitely one of her favorites.  While watching the tour videos on the way to the East Village, they were really excited to visit Fabulous Fanny’s to see all of the vintage eyewear.  They thought it was so interesting and probably spent the most time browsing there.   They were enamored with the hundreds and hundreds of eyeglasses.  They made a brief stop at Cadillac’s Castle, but they were anxiously awaiting going to East 7th Street, where they wanted to visit AuH2O.  Wanting to be a fashion designer, the granddaughter thought that Kate Goldwater (who designs and sews all of her own stuff) was a genius!  The grandmother was very impressed with Kate’s skills as well.  When I told them that she was on CNN’s “How They Got Started” they weren’t surprised at all.  
I dropped them off for dinner in Greenwich Village after the tour and they couldn’t thank me enough.  They both had a wonderful time, which is what’s so cool about the Vintage Boutique Tour.  No matter what age you are, you can appreciate vintage.
On Saturday morning, my Teen Fashion & Fun Tour goers were super excited to shop NYC!  (I think they were also excited to get away from their parents for awhile!)  I started off by playing the videos showcasing the Abercrombie & Fitch Flagship, Henri Bendel’s and Juicy Couture.  I think the videos got them in the mood to shop and got them excited about what they were going to experience.  They had a really fun time seeing the sights of Fifth Avenue, and although they didn’t buy much, they still enjoyed the atmosphere.  They also requested a stop at the Disney Store which is pretty much a given destination for tourists.  One of the teens commented that the Disney Store in her hometown in North Carolina had closed.  I assured her that the Fifth Avenue Disney store was THE Disney Store and the stores in the mall couldn’t compare.  
After romping around on Upper Fifth, we got back in the car and headed for the West Village Marc Jacobs Special Items store.  I knew that they were a little overwhelmed from Fifth Avenue, so gave them their Teeny Cosmos on the way, which they seemed to enjoy.  I took a picture for them so they could feel very “Gossip Girl”–or maybe even “Sex and the City.”  At any rate, teens who love labels but are on a tight budget die and go to heaven every time they set foot in the Marc Jacobs Special Items Store on Bleecker Street.  I mean, to buy something with a Marc Jacobs logo for two or three dollars is unheard of.  So they absolutely LOVED it and actually made their first purchases there.  Since everything else in that area on Bleecker is a little pricey, we hopped back in the car and headed for Noho/Soho.
On the way, I told them about the Magnolia Bakery (which I had even pointed out to them on our way to MJ) and told them I would be giving them some of the famous cupcakes en route to the next stop.  More sugar was just what they needed!  They enjoyed the cupcakes, but thought they were a little too sweet, so I told them to save them for mom.  
When we went to our first stop in Noho, Joyce Leslie, they officially started their shopping spree.  They were really impressed with the store, and more importantly, their prices.  Joyce Leslie is like a Forever 21 or H&M but they don’t have locations across the US, which made this a special treat.  They spent most of their money at Joyce Leslie, which made sense because it was there that they got the most “bang for their buck.”  They also visited David Z across the street to make some shoe purchases and the street market around the corner to get some dirt cheap (but cute) jewelry.  
It’s hard to read teens, but I think Noho/Soho was their secret haven on the tour.  They enjoyed seeing the other stores and neighborhoods, but when they could actually start spending their money was what excited them most.  But I guess that excites us all, doesn’t it?