Bright colors abound inside the semi-covered market on West 116th Street - and it has been this way since 1994 when vendors gathered under one roof to sell their African wares. From traditional fabrics, and handmade clothing, to jewelry, accessories, and wood carvings, to native instruments, the collection at Malcolm Shabazz represents numerous countries including Nigeria, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Mali and Kenya. I found the experience to be exhilarating as I strolled through the stalls carrying on conversations with the vendors. There is a true camaraderie amongst them that is palpable.
A popular place with celebs, Selima Salaun has been able to "combine her professional expertise as an optician and optometrist with modern, innovative design to create a uniquely glamorous retail niche. " The store is filled with both classic and stylish eyeglass frames. In addition, the boutique carries vintage clothing and fashion accessories primarily from Hermes and Chanel. We recommend also taking a look at the handmade leather bags by Marla Cielo.
Erika, one of our photographers, said upon entering Big Bag, "It's always fun to take pictures of a place that is already entirely photogenic. " Bright colored bags are lined up in spectral rows, the smell of soft leather permeates throughout, and accessories glint from all corners of this charming shop. I met Sang Lee, the owner, and her husband, who have been selling bags on 72nd Street since 2009. Before that, their boutique was located in Greenwich Village. Sang told me that while she has gained quite a few new local clients, she also has many loyal customers who have followed her to the Upper West Side. Sang focuses on accessories. In addition to handbags and wallets, she sells a lot of hats and gloves in the wintertime. She used to carry luggage, but as she explained, "There's now too much competition. " Luckily, though, Sang has the advantage that many of her items cannot be found in department stores or online. She imports about ninety percent of her stock directly from Italy and France. She is especially proud of her lightweight bags: She explained that many of her clients, who are often women over the age of fifty, appreciate bags that do not add extra weight to their shoulders.