The souvenir industry in New York City has seen almost no modernization in the last 20 to 30 years, despite amazing technological innovations and the evolution of NYC culture. Since the days of John Lennon wearing an I Heart NYC t-shirt in front of the Statue of Liberty, the industry has come to a stand still.
This city has always been the gathering place of artists, designers, musicians and other creative souls; unfortunately, there is one conclave that has resisted the change of artists. Bad souvenirs are one plight of the city that seems to have avoided the influence of art and technology that is transforming contemporary New York.
We now have NYC start ups rising to challenge of the bad souvenir status quo.
Current souvenirs often look and feel like soulless Chinese trinkets, comprised of over aged but inescapable green Statues of Liberty, worn out white “I love NY” shirts and of course tacky key chains and postcards. Looking exactly the same as they did in the early 90s .
There are 56 million tourists who came to see and experience NYC in 2014. Most of them left enchanted with NYC culture, dining, locations, people, energy, but were astonished with a lack of choices when it came to finding gifts and souvenirs that could truly describe their experience.
As tourists, we compulsively feel the need to grab something to take home when we visit a place. Throughout the process of discovering NYC, it is a natural need to take something back with you for friends, family and just as a momento.
However, that’s hard to do when 99% of the souvenirs you encounter in New York, seem to come from one giant factory in China.
We are glad to say that the change has begun and it’s coming in the form of the start up, Souvenirs.nyc, and other places that have a transformative vision of the New York gifts movement. Using the latest tech and marketing methods as well as fresh thinking, they have been able to disrupt the current gift shop business. Becoming a sort of hyper local Etsy.
Artistic vision is what NYC is all about, and its role is crucial in the heart and definition of the city. Here is an overview of gift and souvenir makers in New York City:
To really get the big picture, try taking a stroll through art haven Williamsburg. On any given day you will pass by dozens of high end craftsman’s boutiques, and if you go on a Friday or Saturday, you will be welcomed into the many indie art galleries that have popped up overnight. In Manhattan, decor specialists have incorporated this new trend into their own designs, using pieces from Brooklyn as their inspiration, to use for high end clients, gallery galas and show installments.
There are a lot of incredible handcrafted art pieces available, but if you are a visitor to New York and only have a limited time and knowledge of the lay of the land, this poses a problem, as those items are often hard to find.
All over Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, artist markets, boutique flea markets and artist studios have sprung up, but discovering them is tough for even local New Yorkers. It’s about time for a curated experience to be offered, where local, artisan made designs are showcased and easily accessible to tourists, supporting the artists and bringing the real New York experience to the rest of the world.
The industrially produced trinkets sold on Times Square and all over Manhattan benefit only the major CEOs of those industries, yet we have so many “starving artists” in NYC that we actually have a phrase named after it; who would love to benefit from their creativity, and share their art and business with people from all over the world. But that wasn’t an option until recently. New York has so much more to offer as the art center of the country, and current kitschy souvenirs do a disfavor to both the culture of NYC and its artists.
As handcrafted designs, crafts, and art have begun to see a high demand from New Yorkers and tourists alike, sites like Souvenirs.nyc are striving to make it available to everyone, connecting you with artists and not just those in the know. High art is a way of life, and New Yorkers know it.
Each piece of this puzzle has a story, has heart and speaks volumes, making for a richer experience that has always been the at the heart of the New York story. One step at a time, the artists of New York are reclaiming the city, and giving it back to the public. Artists of NY should be a part of the future story letting others share it with family, friends, inspiring visitors of NYC to discover their own journey. This is still an uphill battle vs establishment of easy gifts, but taking a real, authentic piece of New York home with you just got a bit easier.