by Alia Fite
“No cell phones, please,” “Use other entrance,” and “Do not serve self,” are unusual signs to post in a store in Manhattan.
Most shoppers are accustomed to flying through swinging doors at department stores and flipping hangers back and forth on their metal racks—all while maintaining a perfectly clear conversation on their cell phones. The signs posted at Ibiza NYC simply don’t allow it.
Ibiza–located at 825 Broadway between 12th and 13th streets–promises a unique shopping experience far past the signs posted on its mahogany door. Amalvaci La Barbera, a sales associate with a thick Portuguese accent, said many Ibiza shoppers come back because it pulls them out of their normal shopping routines. “People come to see what it is. It’s interesting, they look, there’s curiosity,” La Barbera said.
But there is a reason why Ibiza sparks customers’ interest. La Barbera said, “In the ‘70s the owner went to Ibiza in Spain” and became inspired by the Bohemian aesthetic. Pieces of colored suede fabric wrapped around gold mannequin hands are sold as bracelets. Old-fashioned tortoise hair clips updated with ruby rhinestones match the instrumental French soundtrack.
Ibiza screams culture. The woman at the register who creates hand-written receipts is Russian, the store is Spanish and the music is French. “Clothes come from all over the world,” La Barbera observed with a wide grin, and the designers range from English to Egyptian.
There were no customers at 3:00 pm on a Saturday, a time La Barbera said customers usually flock to stores. When asked if the weather is slowing business, she scoffed, “It’s hard to get business in general.” Perhaps the heaps of clothes are overwhelming: the carved wooden racks of tightly hung coats and dresses have no real order. It’s impossible to pull anything off the sale rack without the hangers catching on to each other and wildly patterned tops falling all over the place.
Maybe the prices are more overwhelming than the store layout. Chunky knitted sweaters sell for upwards of $200 and hair clips can cost $30, but again, with the cost comes a well-made, original piece.
The lights are dimmed to avoid the sterile department store experience, and the wooden and cast iron detailing along the walls makes for an authentic boutique feel. “I absolutely enjoy a smaller store,” La Barbera noted. She and her coworker peruse the racks with real interest when not helping shoppers, hoping for the next curious customer.
Ibiza isn’t something a department store shopper is used to, probably because some are accustomed to finding their purchases in a matter of minutes. Many of Ibiza’s customers take time to find unique handmade pieces they really love, according to La Barbera. For those who want something different than the array of department stores in the city, Ibiza is a welcome escape.
According to La Barbera, “Boutiques are just more fun.”