Chinatown, New York City
One of the more interesting places for bargain hunters is Chinatown. There's block after block after block of shops selling jewelry. 'Rolex' watches and electronics, as well as other goodies. And let's not forget the restaurants. There are thousands of customers there on nice days; often so many that you can't even stand on the sidewalk. You can probably get a fair bargain here if you negotiate, but it seems to me you could just as easily get ripped off here and have no recourse. These are cash businesses, and you don't get a receipt at most of them. The warranty is 10 years or until you turn your back, whichever comes first. My 'Rolex' worked for about 4 months, until I dropped it, and I'm sure that not everyone has as pleasant an experience.
Unique Suggestions: Lots of bling here. Look for a while before you buy anything. It may or may not make a difference, but it's fun to look. BTW, Chinatown is considered one of the safer areas of Manhattan, even at night.
Fun Alternatives: If you like an open-air market environment and the thrill of negotiating your best price on an item, you're gonna love Chinatown! If that's not your bag, go back to Fifth Avenue.
If you are going to Chinatown intending to shop on a budget, forget it. This place is so full of tourists that Chinese owners hitch up their prices high and won't give you a good deal, especially if you are buying only a few pieces.
If you want to sightsee, that's completely a different thing.
Unique Suggestions: Don't expect to get a good bargain. Try to haggle but buy the item if you personally think that you already have a good deal. If any only if.
Fun Alternatives: Century 21 is a better alternative, and you can return your merchandise if you are not happy with it. You might be lucky and chance upon a rebate coupon which you can redeem on your next purchase. How about that?
I had struck gold when I finally found the fake bag sellers in China town! They have bags full of bags and guys on walky talkies, who tip each other off about the police coming, so they can pack up and make a quick exit. These bags were really well priced, but unfortunately I didn't buy any because I was going onto the SE Asia and thought I would get them cheaper, but I was wrong! Buy up!! The same with the perfume. Original (???) designer fragrances for US$20. The bags were between US$10-40.
I did come across these sellers on Fifth Ave as well, but they were cheaper and more prolific in China Town on the weekend.
While Chinatown may have excellent restaurants, groceries and few shops, many of those open shops (I don't even feel that they can be called shops) are complete rip-offs. I 3 New York shirts can be bought as cheaply as $1 for each, if you buy in bulk, i.e. 10 for $10. Don't pay any more than $3 for one of those shirts.
Unique Suggestions: If you must buy something from these dollar-store equivalents, at least haggle and save some of your money. If they declare a price, ask for something lower than what you would pay for, they would then offer a price above what you suggested and hopefully it'll hit exactly what you hoped to pay. (I.e. he says its $5, you offer $2, he says $3.50, you agree because that's what you hoped for).
Also, try walking away, pretend you don't want the product and they'll lower the price as you walk away, hoping to get you back. If not, don't worry, the next place will have the exact same thing.
Not really a tourist trap but when choosing the restaurant one must check not to get ripped off when paying the bill!