The Fulton Street Mall.
As a Brooklyn native, there are certain places that you can’t help hold dear to your heart. Fulton Street Mall—the collection of stores in downtown Brooklyn that line Fulton from Flatbush Avenue to Adams Street—is sacred. It was my introduction to fashion and the gateway to my obsession with gold. In high school, it was THE hangout. We'd come from all four corners of BK to play hooky and peruse the displays, daydreaming about all that Polo and Iceberg we were going to buy with our allowance. It was like the window-shopping Olympics. We’d haggle with shop owners over Jordans and earrings and side-eye young boys who were not dressed to impress just as we’d swoon over the guys with complete Tommy Hilfiger ensembles. It was where you’d buy customized nameplate plexi keychains with your BFFs.
Calling it a “mall” always felt like a stretch since back then it was just a ton of outdoor, off-brand, non-chain stores but in function (boys and cutting class) it fit the vibe of any mall in America. Over the years, the Jewelry Bazaar was replaced by Armani Exchange and now we even have an H&M! But I still remember the collection of shops fondly and there are a couple of mainstays. Here’s five of my favorite oldies but goodies.
The Pretty Girl store at the Fulton Street Mall.
Store: Pretty Girl
Address: 514-516 Fulton Street
Before we had luxury of running to an H&M or American Apparel for everything, we spent time wandering through the concrete jungle and really having to search for our fast fashion. Pretty Girl (or the "10 dollar store" as we coined it) was our easy fix for basics and seasonal ware. From $3 camisoles in the summer, $7 leggings for fall, Pretty Girl was the best place to find comfy and flattering baby tees and still is. Stick to basics or layers as the more adventurous stuff can be unfortunate.
The Quick Strike store at the Fulton Street Mall.
Store: Quick Strike
Address: 515 Fulton Street
A mini version of the infamous Fulton Bazaar—an East Coast swap meet and a bygone wonderland of gold hoops and the most in-demand sneakers—Quick Strike still has all the essentials. From bangles to door-knocker bamboos, dolphin earrings (very necessary in the ’90s and early aughts), they still carry the goods and at insanely fair prices. That said, it's still all about bargaining! My personal best? A 10-carat gold Mickey Mouse ring for twenty bucks! Boom. This last remaining homage to the classic bazaar definitely has my co-sign for the best jewelry selection on the strip.
The Macy's store at the Fulton Street Mall.
Address: 422 Fulton Street
A Macy's grows in Brooklyn! OK, I know this Macy’s could be much better stocked in some departments but if you're on the lookout for gifts and contemporary brands, you're better off heading to this location than clawing your way through tourists at Herald Square. I had to include this spot in my Fulton street selections, because in the ’90s it was the clutch place to get all the department store brands like Polo, Guess and Tommy. Nowadays the focus might have shifted to how you style things and not the labels, but if you’re up to dig, this Macy’s is still worth a peek.
The Feal Beauty Supply store at the Fulton Street Mall.
Store: Feel Beauty Supply
Address: 370 Fulton Street
Long before there was a fully-stocked Duane Reade at every corner, beauty supply stores were your one-stop shop. OK, most of you may not repeatedly need multiple packs of Malaysian Remy Indian 40" Spanish Wave hair (lucky you) but there was a time way when I could not walk past a beauty supply store without going in. Prices vary on some of your favorite products like Moroccan oil and Pantene but they all also boast a fairly wide selection of costume jewelry. We’re talking $2 bangle sets. Plus, who doesn’t love a great conditioner with a pair of cute new earrings to set the whole look off?
The Unique store at the Fulton Street Mall.
Address: 408 Fulton Street
Original Brooklyn girls weren't keen on buying thrift store offerings, but peep any girl in Williamsburg and you'll see that's no longer the case. So here’s a newbie that counts as an oldie since it specializes in vintage stuff. Now, if you’ve ever been to Unique, you’ll know that the name fits. You will have to get that “hunter gatherer” mindset with a ton of time and patience to really find that one gem. The space is huge (a rarity in New York anywhere) but that just means there’s tons of options at extremely affordable prices. Pro tip: stop by on a Monday for 50% off the entire store. Who knows, you may be able to find some leftover relics from the Fulton mall shops of yore. God knows I need a Mickey bracelet for my ring.