City Fun NYC in the East Village is a mecca for music merchandise

NY:City Fun NYC
City Fun NYC in the East Village sells officially licensed band merchandise.
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

It’s band tee heaven at City Fun NYC.

Located at 45 1st Ave., between Second and Third Streets in the East Village, the store is a must-visit for any music lover looking for officially licensed band merchandise.

City Fun NYC offers options for every music lover, ranging from indie to classic rock to hip-hop and jazz. While browsing for shirts, sweatshirts, and even baby clothes from your favorite musician — all shirts are arranged alphabetically for your convenience — you can rock out to music hand-picked by the staff.

A look inside City Fun NYC in the East Village.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Unlike the graphic band tees offered at major retailers like Target or Walmart, City Fun NYC buys its merchandise through licensed vendors, and portions of the sales go directly to the artist.

Lilly Russell, store manager, said that while none of the shirts are vintage, the artists are still making a profit.

“When you buy here instead of buying at a big corporation or something, you’re supporting the East Village,” Russell said. “You’re supporting a small business, and the artists are making a profit. Everybody’s kind of winning.”

Mack McCracken and Lilly Russell work at City Fun NYC which sells officially licensed band merchandise.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The social media-savvy Queen fan, who has worked for City Fun since 2019, regularly feeds the store’s Instagram and TikTok accounts with videos of new merchandise and styling tips. Russell also uses social media to expand their online sales.

Business was slow during the pandemic, Russell said, and in 2021 she started a marketing campaign on TikTok to develop the store’s identity and showcase its merchandise to people living outside New York City. Now, City Fun NYC’s TikTok account boasts over 300,000 likes.

“We were really able to hone in on our mission and really build a really great selection of T-shirts,” Russell said. “I think that really doing all that marketing really helped us get a lot of traffic right after the pandemic.”

A Wu-Tang Clan sweatshirt for sale at City Fun NYC.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
A selection of shirts at City Fun NYC.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

A musician herself, Russell wants City Fun NYC to be a destination for music fans offering a wide range of artists.

Some of the biggest sellers are Blondie, Metallica, The Cure, Nirvana, and the Grateful Dead, to name a few.

“And our goal is really just to represent music history and music culture,” Russell said. “A lot of people are surprised by the wide range of artists we carry. We really focus on rock music throughout the 60s until the 90s. They are really our biggest artists. So it’s really like also like kind of a historical thing.”