Borough Park is a neighborhood largely shaped and defined by its large population of Hassidic Jews. Last spring I visited on a Friday afternoon when the area’s businesses shut down to prepare for Shabbos, the Jewish Sabbath (see Erev Shabbos in Borough Park).
In sharp contrast to the stillness and quiet found here at Shabbos, during the business week Borough Park is bustling. The busiest street, 13th Avenue, is lined with hundreds of mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. It doesn’t take many mothers pushing strollers to fill the aisles of these small stores, so on a sunny day most of the shopkeepers move racks, tables and boxes of merchandise outdoors. Their sidewalk displays serve to both promote the business and make more room inside. Everything from earrings to suitcases to toys can be purchased curb-side, giving the district the air of a gigantic stoop sale.
The prices aren’t far above those of a stoop sale, either. While some stores cater to the needs the religious community, dozens of places offer deep discounts on designer and name-brand goods, particularly women and children’s shoes and clothing. Buy a few items and be prepared to be offered a discount — or just ask for one. In addition to shopping, Borough Park is a great place to practice your bargaining skills.