Where To Go
Queens Offers Many Choices For Shoppers
The Queens Center Mall’s tree shows off the borough’s holiday spirit.
By Brian M. Rafferty
There is a certain amount of serenity that goes into holiday shopping, believe it or not. It is a time to revel in the deep discounts, to enjoy the added exercise of walking through the malls and to be filled with an inner joy that comes from knowing you made a good choice.
But in order to truly achieve this level of inner calm, you need to quiet out the din of the screaming children, bickering couples and bitter salespeople by purchasing a small gift for your self if you don’t already have one – a personal music player.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a radio, CD player, iPod or tape deck, cover your ears and block out the noise with the relaxing sounds of whatever it is that brings you to your happy place, whether it’s Brahams, Phish, the Beach Boys or Metallica. Once the tunes start, you’re ready to shop.
The Shops At Atlas Park blend the indoor and outdoor malls to create a village square setting.
Queens is filled with chain stores. From Bed, Bath and Beyond and Circuit City to Toys R Us or Barnes & Noble, these purveyors of gifts galore dot the landscape at a number of primary shopping centers. Their mission is clear and their methods are tried and true. Whatever it is that is the “hot” item for the holiday, they have it either in store or on its way. Often, if they don’t have it in stock, it’ll be back on the shelves within 24 hours.
That’s Their Department
Department stores such as Kohl’s, Stein Mart, Macy’s and Sears serve as anchors in malls and shopping centers around Queens. Their diverse displays offer the high-end, popular label items as well as store brands (which are getting increasingly better) at good values. Here you will find a range of items from bed and bath to kitchenware, appliances, clothes and luggage, all under one roof.
Speaking Of Roofs…
The malls of Queens come in two flavors – outdoor and indoor. The indoor classic is the Queens Center Mall on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst, which is the largest shopping center between here and the Palisades Mall in New Jersey. Just to the Center’s west lies Queens Place, in the former Macy’s round goliath. Over in Middle Village be sure to check out the MetroMall, though it really is more of a home to large stores (Kmart, Toys R Us, BJ’s) than specialty shops.
Bordering on the gray line between indoor and out is the Shops At Atlas Park, which just opened this year and boasts plenty of stores, but all the passageways are outdoors and around a plaza, with the stores on the outside.
If you want to be outdoors, the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center and a handful of other outdoor strip malls line the streets of Queens, like the Douglaston Mall and the Long Island City shopping district around Northern Boulevard and 49th Street.
This is the real meat and potatoes of shopping in Queens, and probably where you will find the most unique and most treasured gifts. Heck, anybody can go into Macy’s and buy a Ralph Lauren sweater, have some paper jockey toss it in a box covered with some gold wrapping paper and hand it off to you on Christmas Day with its return-me-anywhere gift receipt inside.
Fruit baskets and gifts of food can be found at Stop and Shop and other supermarkets throughout the borough. Tribune Photos by Ira Cohen
But it is the small shops along Austin Street in Forest Hills, on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, on Steinway Street in Astoria, along Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica and on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills where you’re really going to find the most personalized pieces.
Why Go Out?
Don’t forget that shopping for the holidays doesn’t have to mean wasting your time trying to find parking at the mall or running back out to feed your meter for every hour you are standing on line.
Don’t stand on line, go online. Web commerce is safe, easy and diverse, not to mention potentially tax-free if the retailer from whom you are shopping doesn’t have a “brick and mortar” location in New York State.
Web sites like amazon.com serve as one-site shopping sources, even though the items may be coming from multiple stores and arrive at different times. At least you’ll know whether your Almond Roca will arrive in time for Aunt Jeannie’s visit.
Also, you can go the old-fashioned way, and order through catalogs. Individual retailers are always looking for ways to bring you back to their pages and offer some great sale prices will before the holiday season ends, so be sure to check them out.