Locals travel downtown or to the Bronx for large department stores, big-box stores, specialty grocers like Trader Joe’s, or most national chains. Primarily a residential community, the Heights is home to mom-and-pop shops and service providers. You’ll also find some shops that are unique to Hispanic neighborhoods, like botanicas featuring religious goods, candles, herbs, and perhaps occult items.
One area favorite destination is Word Up, a multilingual community bookstore, arts space, and support center for social activism in a volunteer-run warm and welcoming environment. Located at 2113 Amsterdam Avenue at 165th Street, you might like to combine a visit here with a trip to the nearby Morris-Jumel Mansion. The hours of this Liberia Comunitaria are Tuesday through Friday 3 to 9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. They sell new and gently used books and have a membership Community Supported Bookstore (CSB) program. Similar to a CSA, or community supported agriculture, at Word Up your dollars support the bookshop and you receive books rather than veggies.