With clients from around the globe, personal shopper Roxanne Hauldren creates custom tours that offer exclusive access to designer showrooms, sample sales and boutiques through her company, Shop With Rox. She's spent years developing relationships with wholesale vendors in the Garment District and getting to know every shopping block of the city so her clients can score great deals on totally unique items. I recently spoke with Rox to get the inside scoop on holiday shopping, the season's hottest sample sale and essential retail tips.
Offering personalized shopping tours around NYC is quite a unique job. Tell us about the history of Shop With Rox.
I love shopping and I love people, but most of all I love New York City. I decided to create Shop with Rox because I saw a need for visitors to do something different [and] the idea of customized shopping tours came to life. In my opinion, New York City is much more fun and manageable if you have someone to show you the cool spots and weed out the tourist traps. I wanted to bring fun, exciting, stress-free and affordable shopping to people from around the globe. My business was created three years ago and I started by talking my friends and their relatives around for free. Fast forward three years and I’ve shopped with men and women of all ages from all around the world.
What makes NYC such a great place to shop? What does it offer that other cities don’t?
NYC really has something for everyone, every style and every price range. Most don’t realize that shopping in NYC doesn’t just mean Madison Avenue and SoHo. There are some real gems in every neighborhood. We have the Garment District that is still a huge part of our fashion community. We also have some awesome sample sales that other cities [lack].
What advice can you offer to those doing their holiday gift shopping in the city? Got any favorite places?
Chelsea Market is a fantastic place for finding gifts for people of all ages. Chocolates, sweets, handmade jewelry by local artists, vintage clothing, candles, artwork and teas—you really can’t go wrong.
Also, I always buy in numbers. If I see an awesome deal or something great at a sample sale, I’ll buy three or four of the same pieces. It’s great to have a few extra gifts on hand for the holidays or after. You’ll always have that one person/event that you need a gift for and it will save you money in the long run if you snatched it up at that great price.
How can you score great deals shopping here?
Follow your favorite designers, restaurants and shops on Twitter. You would be amazed at how many shops in NYC announce flash sales, promotions and giveaways daily. From free cupcakes to 40% off, it’s a no brainer and it’s free!
Learn where the stores’ sales sections are and go there first. Often, it’s downstairs, hidden from plain sight or on the top level of the store. The stores don’t want this section in your face because they want shoppers to buy [the more prominent full-price items]. I find in NYC you will often find some of the same items in the sale section and in the full price section, it just may be different sizing or color options.
Do you know of any promising sample sales this month?
The Portolano sample sale is always in December and it’s my favorite for holiday gifts. It usually lasts from Dec. 4-20 and always has great basic winter accessories for women, men and kids. It has a variety of the label’s Italian leather gloves (silk and cashmere lined). Prices range from $25 for basic styles to $70 for styles from Italian designers like Moschino and Cavalli. There’s also usually a selection of pashmina shawls, cashmere gloves, scarves and hats and gloves for texting.
What’s the biggest challenge visitors face when shopping for the first time in NYC?
The biggest challenge for visitors is managing their time. Most visitors don’t understand the time it takes to get around. And with the amount of options here, most visitors don’t even know where to start. I help visitors match their style, sizing, needs, wants, desires and budgets to fabulous NYC sample sales, boutiques, designers, neighborhoods, treats, beauty products and even happy hours—saving time and money. I help you bring back pieces that are unique to NYC. I am also well versed in the original prices of the brands offered at sample sales and will help you figure out what looks best, fits best and if it’s worth the price. Overall, I help visitors relax, take in the city and discover the best shopping.
What’s the hottest neighborhood for retail right now?
Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I would suggest grabbing the L train and heading over there for an afternoon. Get off on Bedford Avenue and explore. Some of my favorite shops include Catbird [a jewelry store] and Brooklyn Denim Co., where jeans can be tailored on-site. Also check out Brooklyn Fox and the Brooklyn Charm (a fun place to create your own jewelry). Men embracing their inner surfer can visit Pilgrim Surf+Supply. I also like to go to Junk for funky vintage housewares. Take back some delicious cheese and snacks from the Bedford Cheese Shop and finish off your shopping spree with a delicious seasonal cocktail at the Hotel Delmano or a late lunch at Juliette.
Who are your favorite NYC-based designers?
Meg! I love Meg. She started her East Village shop in the mid 90s and now has three more stores, including one in the Upper East Side. Most of the time you can see her working, designing and cutting in the Williamsburg or East Village locations. Her designs are effortless, fashionable and chic. Not to mention really comfortable. I also love Elie Tahari. He is a true New York Fashion icon. He even has his own day (Sept. 4) dedicated to him here in NYC. He opened his first shop on Madison Avenue 40 years ago. A few of the famous Elie Tahari staples include the jumpsuit and tuxedo jacket. Not only do I love his designs. but I also am inspired by his story about making it in the fashion industry.
What’s your favorite new store right now?
The Birchbox Store in Soho offers the perfect way to finish any outfit with some great beauty products. Maybe you’re looking for a new signature scent, a bold new lipstick or a funky nail color to go with the new clothes you bought here. They’ve got you covered at this fun store. You can build your own Birchbox by stocking up on five samples of your choice for $15. And on the lower level, there are classes on topics such as makeup and skincare.
Got any other tips for our readers?
Wear an outfit that you can easy slip clothes over if attempting to visit a public sample sale. The dressing room lines can be massive and a drain on precious shopping time! If you’re visiting NYC from outside the United States, be sure to get online and look at American sizing charts so you can find the right size. Shopping is sport in NYC—wear comfortable walking shoes and hydrate, but above all have fun!
Visitors can book a personalized Shop With Rox tour at www.shopwithrox.nyc or by calling 917.239.7233.