Home to the Ivy League Yale University, one of America’s most prestigious seats of learning, New Haven enjoys all the youthful energy you’d expect from a bustling university city. Yet thanks to its location on the coast on Long Island Sound, it’s easy to find respite along the city’s 80+ miles of beaches, helping make it a popular getaway destination for travellers in the region.
New Haven’s city centre has plenty of commercial activity to cater for its young demographic, including a large number of shops, restaurants and nightspots. If you’re planning to indulge in some retail therapy during your stay in New Haven, we’ve picked out 12 of the best shops and boutiques that the city has to offer.
Owned and operated by ultra-talented neighbourhood designer Neville Wisdom, his eponymous clothing store and fashion house has attracted a substantial and dedicated clientele down the years thanks to its combination of style, quality, integrity and environmental awareness. As part of the owner’s efforts to cultivate and promote a strong social conscience, he buys his fabric from a handful of local purveyors and commits to using 80% of everything purchased to avoid waste. All garments are hand-made in the on-site atelier.
903 Whalley Avenue
Vintanthro Modern Vintage
Featuring a rotating selection of local and handmade goods, this charming, quintessential neighbourhood store is the brainchild of Melissa Gonzales. Quite simply, it is a delight to wander around, casually perusing its thoughtfully curated collection of vintage and modern clothing, shoes, accessories and home goods, all handpicked by the owner during her regular forays across Connecticut, the Midwest and the Deep South. The store’s friendly and knowledgeable staff are constantly on hand to help customers find the perfect gift, souvenir or special something, depending on their tastes and budget.
895 Whalley Avenue
Nestled in the heart of New Haven’s historic Chapel Street District, independently-owned idiom is the city’s go-to shopping destination for head-turning apparel, footwear, handbags, artisan jewellery, and much more. Priding itself on its customer service, the shopping experience here is akin to a relaxed leisure pursuit, with customers encouraged to take their time and ask questions if anything catches their eye. Be sure to check out the store’s “Jewel Box”, an entire section dedicated to beautiful, artisan-handcrafted jewellery.
1014 Chapel Street
Book Trader Cafe
Secondhand books meet gourmet sandwiches at this independent used bookstore located on the Yale University campus. Since opening in 1998, the bookstore has continued to fend off the growing challenge of online retailers such as Amazon thanks to its loyal customer base of everyone from students and lecturers to tourists and local business folk. As well as housing 16,000 titles focussing on academia and art, the store also serves up top notch coffee and a range of delectable sandwiches.
1140 Chapel Street
Founded in 1984, Raggs is the go-to store for many of the fashion-conscious denizens of New Haven. With a strong focus on modern suiting and tailoring, the traditional, upscale store features a range of sophisticated designer apparel, shoes and accessories for men and women, including hats, cuff-links, bags and watches. The store also offers complimentary same-day and next-day alterations.
1020 Chapel Street
With multiple stores across the US, Blue Mercury have gained an enviable reputation for offering the world’s most innovative beauty and cosmetic products as part of a unique shopping experience. As well as the option to browse a vast assortment of high quality products, clients can also seek out expert advice and technical knowledge from the brand’s friendly and knowledgeable in-store staff.
An iconic name within American men’s fashion, J. Press is truly a flavour of the old school. The distinguished haberdasher brand has been fitting out discerning gentlemen since the turn of the 20th century and in New Haven has become synonymous with Ivy League style, with students flocking here down the years seeking out customised classics such as the three-button sack suit, the oxford cloth button-down shirt, the repp tie, the navy blazer, and the ShaggyDog sweater.
206 College Street
Situated steps away from the Yale campus, this renowned, family-owned fashion accessories store offers a quintessential boutique experience, inviting customers to discover their own distinctive, personal style. Whether it’s finding the perfect necklace, watch, handbag, scarf, hat, or sunglasses to spruce up your look, the store rarely fails to come up with the goods.
The Owl Shop
One of America’s premier cigar lounges, The Owl Shop has been open since 1934 and today remains New Haven’s only bar where you can legally smoke inside. But this is far more than just a place to come for a permissible drag on a variety of fine cigars – it also hosts weekly blues and jazz performances, as well as serving up delectable custom cocktails, light food and gourmet coffee.
268 College Street
Yale Center for British Art
Offering a wide variety of books on British art and culture, as well as a range of items including tote bags, candles, fine china, custom jewellery, stationery and t-shirts, this museum-based store is a perpetual favourite with visitors looking for gift ideas or souvenirs. There’s also a dedicated kids’ section featuring an assortment of books as well as craft kits, toys and games.
1080 Chapel Street
Ten Thousand Villages
Part of the eponymous Ten Thousand Villages fair trade organisation which operates across the globe, the New Haven outpost of this large-scale ethical endeavour sells a huge selection of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items hailing from every corner of the developing world. Proceeds go directly to impact the life and community of its maker in a developing country.
1054 Chapel Street
Fashionista Vintage & Variety
One of New Haven’s most beloved vintage stores, Fashionista Vintage & Variety has been a mainstay of the city’s clothes scene for over 15 years. Spanning the decades, its abundance of reused and repurposed top hats, taffeta, slips, caftans and plenty more give fans of vintage apparel and accessories the chance to make bold, eye-catching fashion statements for bargain basement prices.
85 Willow Street
By Paul Joseph