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Sale and Return:
Top 5 Cities for Shopping

Sale and Return:
Top 5 Cities for Shopping


Snap up a bargain in these perfectly priced cities.

Sure, there are pre-holiday and post-holiday sales, but some destinations are hot shopping spots year-round. Consider visiting one of the five states that don't charge sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. If you're in need of some retail therapy but are feeling crunched by credit, shop around these cities for a bargain: Portland, Oregon; Anchorage, Alaska; St. Thomas, USVI, and, of course, New York and L.A.

1. PORTLAND, OREGON No state sales tax makes a shopping spree to the Rose City extra enticing. Add to that a slew of appealing promotions at some of the city's most chic hotels, restaurants, and shops -- courtesy of the Travel Portland Big Deal promotion -- and the Rose City is impossible to resist. For more on shopping Portland, scour the Discover. Portland. Shopping blog for steals and deals.

Sale rail Visit Powell's City of Books (1005 W. Burnside; 800-878-7323), an entire city block of literary goodness. Stock up on decadent organic chocolates from around the world at Cacao (414 S.W. 13th Avenue; 503-241-0656). Hit Columbia Sportswear (911 S.W. Broadway; 503-226-6800) in its hometown flagship location and stock up on gear for kayaking, climbing, and exploring the nearby outdoors. For hipster crafts and a taste of Portland's funky side, visit Crafty Wonderland, Portland's monthly art and craft extravaganza, every second Sunday of the month at The Doug Fir (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 830 E. Burnside Street; 503-231-9663).

2. NEW YORK New York is a shopper's paradise, especially for gay travelers. Whether you're interested in spending a lot or saving even more, you've got a myriad of options. From high-end boutiques to vibrant street markets and funky stores, the city is world-renowned for its diverse and trend-setting shopping opportunities -- and rightly so.

Sale rail Uniqlo (546 Broadway; 917-237-8800) is the Japanese bargain trendsetter whose slick SoHo outlet is the growing chain's global flagship. For authentic kitsch, Love Saves the Day (119 Second Avenue; 212-228-3802) saves the day with more Pez dispensers, Jesus action figures, and mid-century shtick than you can shake a stick at. For your favorite flight attendant or travel buddy -- or even for yourself -- check out Greenwich Village's Flight 001 (96 Greenwich Ave; 212-691-1001), part of a chic travel minichain selling items of a "global" nature, such as rain hats, Italian toothbrush kits, and hard-to-find guidebooks.

3. L.A. Los Angeles offers shopping at its finest: great shopping districts, easy parking, lots of sales, and stores from the ridiculous to the sublime. California fashion has a unique style, tailored to the pleasant climate, outdoor living, movie glamour, and laid-back attitude.

Sale rail For fresh, hip attire that won't frighten the bank, head to Los Feliz Village, bounded by Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues north of Hollywood Boulevard. Half Off Clothing Store (1806 N. Vermont; 323-665-1526) sells brand-new, casual men's and women's clothes for ... guess how much. Titles at Skylight Books (1818 N. Vermont; 323-660-1175) include gay-themed publications, and there's a regular schedule of readings by local and nationally renowned authors. Finally, the Rose Bowl Flea Market (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena) is the Mother of All of L.A. Flea Markets, 5 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month. The de rigueur outfit: sunscreen, shades and a big floppy hat.

4. ANCHORAGE, ALASKA Alaska is another state with no sales tax and offers some unique shopping opportunities, including musk ox knitwear and other Native Alaskan wares. Many downtown shops in Anchorage carry Native Alaskan arts and crafts.

Sale rail Don't miss the 4th Avenue Market Place (411 W. 4th Avenue; 907-278-3263) if you have any interest in Native art. The Alaska Native Arts Foundation Gallery (6th Avenue and E Street) is a nonprofit promoting the best work of indigenous artists, both in traditional and contemporary forms. Nowhere else will you find another business like Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers' Co-operative (6th Avenue and H Street; 907-272-9225), located in the house with the musk ox on the side. Owned by 250 Alaska Native women living in villages across the state, the co-op sells only scarves and other items they knit of qiviut (ki-vee-ute), the light, warm, silky underhair of the musk ox, which is collected from shedding animals.

5. ST. THOMAS, U.S.V.I. Tiny, tony, tempting St. Thomas is another duty-free delight. Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a town of shops and historic buildings reflecting its Danish colonial past. Look for the 17th-century red and yellow Fort Christian, the 19th-century lime-green Legislature Building, and Emancipation Park, a tropical version of a New England town square commemorating the 1848 proclamation freeing the slaves.

Sale rail The central cluster of shops along Main Street is bracketed by two open-air markets: Vendor's Plaza catering to souvenir hunters on the east, and Market Square serving mostly locals on the west. In-between in well-maintained, pastel-colored, 200-year-old warehouses with the most spectacular 18th-century doors, lies a duty-free shopper's paradise: Gold, jewels, electronics, perfumes, china, crystal, and linen are all tax free up to $1,200 to U.S. citizens.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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