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Racked Reviews: Altman Luggage

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Racked's reviews are penned by Aaron Bernstein, a.k.a. The Shophound. Today, he checks out Altman Luggage on the Lower East Side.

Photos Krieger, 08/16/07

Something happens on Orchard Street south of Rivington. The balance shifts from the newer trendy boutiques like Bblessing and Slane & Slane to the old Orchard Street and a collection of decidedly less trendy discount stores. It won’t last.

Call us cynical (you won’t be the first) but inevitably, the new stores and higher rents will win out, pushing out most of the stores that made Orchard Street synonymous with markdowns and bargains, and with them the reason for closing the street to traffic on Sundays creating a weekly street fair. One store we expect to survive the transition is Altman Luggage, which has been selling travel gear since 1920. While most of the old-style shops are full of cheap goods from no-name labels (often hanging from the awnings – so classy) Altman is packed with brands you will recognize from major department stores like Travelpro, Delsey, and Victorinox. In addition, as a classic luggage store would, Altman offers an impressive assortment of luxurious writing instruments from Mont Blanc, S.T. Dupont and a host of similarly exclusive makers. Are they discounted? Not officially, though the store stands by a 30-day lowest-price guarantee. Can you still bargain? Well, it is Orchard Street.

· What we loved: The selection is wide and deep, which is apparent when you walk into the store.

· What it lacked: We did indicate that it was not one of the newer, more stylish stores on the street, as indicated by the ambiance, or lack thereof.

· Décor: See above. The store is decorated with stacks of luggage, which, though tidy, don’t exactly make for easy browsing. Pens and other accessories are tightly arranged in utilitarian glass cases around a large Mont Blanc fixture; efficient if not particularly glamorous.

· Best time to shop: Weekday afternoons.

· Service: No nonsense, kind of like the old delis that are left in the neighborhood.