Admit it: Even if your next trip abroad is purely for work, to catch you up on some R&R, or in a location so remote you’re not even sure your phone’s going to work, you’ve probably searched the web to see where you can visit some local stores. Of course, while shopping might not be the main motivator behind your globetrotting, it is an activity that helps you get in touch with wherever you’re visiting. After all, trawling the stalls at Brimfield in Massachusetts and flipping through the racks at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong are two experiences that are totally unique, localized, and special — and that’s definitely something you can’t replicate with your browser.
As fans of shopping and travel, we find that immersing ourselves in a little retail education is just as enriching as hitting up any other guidebook suggestion. So, if you’re like us and always hit the road with a little extra space in your luggage for incidentals, check out our roundup of the most gushed-about shopping meccas that have changed our own editors’ lives. The list ahead is by no means definitive — there are thousands more spots we wish we could plug — but these are the 25 locations you should add to your bucket list, stat. Bon voyage — and good buy!
Colette in Paris, France
There are so many quirky, offbeat stores in Paris — Merci is another standout we’ve got to mention — but there’s nothing quite like Colette. Featuring every single up-and-coming designer you’ve heard of (and many that you haven’t), Colette stocks the slightly off, charmingly weird clothes, accessories, home goods, gadgets, and beauty products you spend your time and wits trying to track down at other places on the Internet. It’s a one-stop shop of wonder — the only danger is staying within budget!
Century 21 in NYC, New York
If you like your shopping experiences organized, calm, and zen, don’t shop here. But, if bargain hunting is your type of sport, cruising through Century 21 is somewhat like the Super Bowl. It’s a legendary discount department store that boasts huge sales — as the company says, “the best styles at up to 65% off retail 100% of the time.” Prepare to stand in line, dig in piles, fight for the last shoe in your size, and cry tears of both loss and victory.Century 21, 22 Cortlandt Street (between Church Street and Broadway), NYC, NY, 10007, U.S.A.; (212) 227-9092.
Liberty Department Store in London, U.K.
If your idea of department stores begins and ends at the mall, Liberty London will be an education. The store itself has been around since 1875 and stocks some of the most compelling emerging and established British brands (not to mention labels from across the globe). With a world-class cafe, an in-house florist, an unparalleled beauty counter, and a section devoted solely to its heritage Liberty prints, it’s a shop that feels as engrossing as a museum.Liberty – London, Regent Street (off Great Marlborough Street), London, W1B 5AH, U.K., +44 207 734 1234
Totokaelo in Seattle, Washington
For girls with one foot in heritage and one foot in avant garde, Totokaelo is probably the shop of choice. Clothing, housewares, and accessories commingle in a beautiful, bright-white space that somehow makes its merchandise seem irresistible. If you want to see how strong your willpower is, we dare you to stand in front of its stadium-seating shoe section and try not to buy anything.Totokaelo, 1523 10th Avenue (between East Pine and East Pike streets), Seattle, WA, 98122, U.S.A.; (206) 623-3582.