>> Two dissimilar events prompted me to write this article. The first relates to my buying a new purse, and the second, to all the requests I get about where to find wholesale showrooms in New York City.
Let's start with my new purse.
What I needed was a case for a large digital camera with telephoto lens. Unfortunately, camera cases don't make suitable handbags and "Canon" or "Nikon" logos aren't all that fashionable.
I considered buying a smaller camera that would fit in my current handbags, but if I did that, I would lose the telephoto capability, so I compromised. Instead of purchasing a useless, but easy-to-carry camera, I invested in a big designer purse at Bloomingdale's.
Actually, I chose my purse because it had a shoulder strap and enough sturdy floor space to protect my electronics. Only after I paid for it did I realize that I became the proud owner of a Marc Jacob's bag.
Marc Jacob's makes well-engineered, attractive handbags, the type of which you won't find in B&H Photo. Unfortunately, the bag I bought is plain; so plain, in fact, it can easily be mistaken for a generic camera bag . . . hummmmmmm. Did I miss something here? Needless to say, I needed to dress up my bag.
Accessories to the rescue!
Thankfully, for the past year or so, handbag jewelry has become so popular that it even has it's own designation: handbag charms.
Prada, for example, makes a line of handbag charms that sell well into $300 range. Looney Tunes, of all things, even produces handbag charms for $75 a pop (and I'm not joking).
To see for yourself, Google on such words as jean charms, purse clips, handbag charms, purse charms, and key charms.
Anyway, this being New York, it is not necessary to shop online to find a purse perk-up. So, in a bling-bling mood, I headed over to one of my favorite costume jewelry wholesale/retail areas to see what I could pick up.
Between 37th and 38th Streets
Clean and spacious, the wholesale/retail establishments on the east side of 6th Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets offer a wide variety of costume jewelry and decorative trim options.
While open to individual shoppers, stores like these are showrooms for retailers in town on buying trips. Retail prices, when allowable, are usually reasonable. Wholesale prices are lower, but to get them, come prepared with your state's resale certificate and the cash to buy a godzillion things.
A big benefit to consumers when shopping in wholesale/retail establishments is getting the first pick of merchandise before it becomes commonly available. Getting price breaks, of course, are always welcome no matter why you shop.
That said, I was charmed at Signature Time, Inc. ( 1 ) which specializes in brooches, costume jewelry, watches with stunning bands, and beaded handbags. I was particularly mesmerized by their well-crafted brooches with sparkling, fade-proof crystals and tiny bead trim. I purchased a blue butterfly (2.5 inches wide by 2 inches tall) on sale for $25. Signature Time also had a big display of jean charms (2nd and 3rd photos), with prices ranging from $1.50 to $12.
Next door, at Genuine Ten Ten (1010 6th Avenue) ( 2 ), you'll find a bead shop that specializes in pearls and semi-precious stones. With a sense of adventure, and ample help from Genuine Ten Ten's staff, it should take you no time to make a classy variety of dangling charms using authentic materials. I, however, continued looking for something ready-made.
The middle of the block holds several showrooms of M&J Buttons and Trim ( 3 ). Unfortunately, none were open on Sunday when I visited. Even so, just looking into their many windows is stimulating! While their website is nice, it does not do justice to their merchandise. M&J features every type of trim imaginable, from fabric, to stones, to beads, to fur, in addition to buckles, handles, appliques, tassels, and the cutest buttons in the world.
Toward the end of the block is Design by Nova, Inc. ( 4 ), family owned and operated. The day I visited, the store was being managed by a single clerk (pictured) and an owner, both exceptionally helpful.
This smaller store has a wide selection of necklaces, leather belts, watches and hanging watch charms, with the heart-shaped dangling watch winning my heart! I purchased this 1.5 inch high, half-inch thick charm without hesitation at a reasonable $12. (Last picture.)
Trendy Corner Wholesale/Retail ( 5 ), is a huge establishment that wraps around the corner. It specializes purses, multitudes of earrings, necklaces, and just about any type of costume jewelry you can imagine. By the time I came to it, however, I already bought two items that I could use interchangeably to dress up my handbag, so I didn't take the time to closely look through their extensive displays.
Wholesale and Retail
As I stated earlier, stores like these cater to retail buyers and not single-item consumers like myself. Even with my very small purchases, however, I was treated with courtesy everywhere I went. No crabby "New York Attitude" anywhere on the block. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, especially on a rushed day, but I felt that all the clerks I met were well-informed and helpful.
There are many other wholesale/retail shops in the area. All of the stores are very nice, although many are small, and provide great shopping adventures for those of you who want to see (and possibly "buy") just about everything!
1 - Signature Time, Inc.: Costume jewelry, fashion watches featuring unusual bands, brooches, beaded purses, more. Open seven days a week. 212 354-4459. 1014 6th Avenue
2 - Genuine Ten Ten: Pearls and semi-precious stones and beads. Open seven days a week. 212 221-1173. 1010 6th Avenue
3 - M&J Buttons and Trim: Trim, cord, buckles, buttons, rhinestones, ribbon, fringe, flowers, and ropes of beads. Monday through Sunday. 212 204-9595
4 - Design by Nova, Inc.: Costume jewelry, watches, belts, more. Open seven days a week. 212 719-2744. 1000 6th Avenue
5 - Trendy Corner: Handbags, jewelry, belts, pins, scarves, more. 212 302-0377. 1000 6th Avenue (corner of 37th Street)
My beautifully-made, Marc Jacobs Field Bag that not only serves as a camera bag, it looks like a camera bag.
Signature Time Costume Jewelry & Fashion watches: One of many jean charm displays.
Signature Time Costume Jewelry & Fashion Watches: More jean charms.
Blue, Swarovski crystal butterfly pin, one of many sparkling, high-quality brooches at Signature Time.
The butterfly pin does, indeed, perk up my purse!
Design by Nova: Racks of necklaces, errings, and watches, plus watch charms!
Design by Nova: The friendly clerk helped me organize my hunt as well as demo'd charms. I was sold!
The watch charm matches the hardware spirit of my handbag. I particularly like the tiny red heart on the second hand.