I f Las Vegas truly is Sin City, then shopping here could be an outlet for all seven Deadly Sins: Avarice and Gluttony, of course; Sloth as you stroll in the afternoon sun; Pride when you discover a bargain others have overlooked; but Envy and Wrath when you hesitate on a Frank Lloyd Wright-style lamp and lose it to another sharp-eyed shopper; and even Lust, for the upscale malls are as much fashion runways as marketplaces.
Besides satisfying basic needs, shopping can be a form of entertainment and relaxation, and it’s a great way to get to know the city. The choices range from upscale boutiques and emporiums, such as Gucci’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman-Marcus, to offbeat clothing stores, antiquarian bookstores and hip art galleries. The history and culture of the region are reflected in the Southwestern and Indian art, crafts and jewelry sold at several well-stocked shops. Local rock and gem dealers specialize in quartz crystals and polished jewelry mined in nearby states.
Las Vegas even has its own antique guild, made up of dozens of shops, most within a few blocks of each other. Their treasures range from Victorian jewelry and collectibles to juke boxes, German clocks and retro-chic clothing. There’s also a cartel of vintage music stores that sell an intriguing array of albums and tape recordings by such as the early Beatles and Fats Waller. A growing Asian population has created shopping districts where you can browse through shops specializing in Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, crafts and curios.
If you want authentic gambling souvenirs, or if you want to set up your own “casino” at home, visit one of several dealers who recondition and sell slot machines. You can also buy craps and blackjack tables, roulette wheels, cards, dice, chips–even authentic clothing worn by card dealers, keno runners and croupiers.
Retail sales–always a segment of the tourism business–has grown in significance as we enter the 21st century. Hotels have found that, while their tourism trade has remained robust, visitors are dumping fewer of their travel dollars into the casino and more into fine restaurants and retail purchases. Thus, the older properties have scrambled to upgrade their somewhat cheesy souvenir shops, while the newest resorts have included elaborate shopping arcades among their amenities.
For instance, Bellagio’s upscale shopping promenade–Via Bellagio–is home to a cluster of designer shops that would rival any on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. They include Giorgio Armani, Prada, Chanel, Tiffany & Company, Moschino, Hermes, Gucci and Fred Leighton. And The Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes–marked by a quarter-mile long replica of Venice’s Grand Canal–features more than 70 high-end boutiques, restaurants and art galleries.
Expansion of retail space on The Strip will continue. The new Aladdin Hotel, scheduled to open in fall 2000, will feature the 500,000-square-foot Desert Passage, a massive dining, shopping and entertainment complex. And the Fashion Show Mall, considered the jewel of the city’s malls, will double in size to 1.8 million square feet by summer 2001. Located on The Strip between the Frontier and Treasure Island, the Fashion Show Mall will add Bloomingdale’s and Lord & Taylor to its roster of department stores that already includes Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus.
While shopping on The Strip is easy–just grab your billfold and a good pair of sneakers–shopping around the valley takes more planning. This city, unlike, say, San Francisco or Washington, D.C., is spread over a vast area. So, other than The Strip, there is no North Beach or Georgetown neighborhood ideal for browsing. Therefore, we’ve identified the city’s best shopping destinations–the malls, commercial centers, shopping districts and unique specialty shops–and grouped them by geographic location. This way, you’ll be able to quickly and easily locate the city’s best shopping sites. So, with that in mind, unleash the plastic, and let’s shop.