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Holiday gift guide 2009

A dozen independent NYC retailers choose their best bets for this year's holiday season.



Cool-hunting offspring of design cognoscenti can get their fix of new toy releases from Uglydoll, Kidrobot, Tokidoki and other urban-hip brands at this boutique. The latest kicks from Vans and Aigle and clothes from Japan’s Muchacha and France’s Finger in the Nose round out the collection. 15 Gansevoort St between Hudson and W 13th Sts (212-242-5511, yoyashop.com).

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West Village
Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

Mini Jake

The large toy-cum-furniture shop was one of the parenting-gear pioneers of Billyburg. Its current selection focuses on eco-friendly and fair-trade goods: If you’re looking for trucks made from recycled milk jugs (free of phthalates and BPA, natch), this is the place for you. 178 North 9th St between Bedford and Driggs Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-782-2005, minijake.com).

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This beautiful store has the aura of a Waldorf School playroom. High-quality handcrafted European toys from Kthe Kruse, Fagus and Ostheimer that focus on imaginative play and learning (think fantasy-fueling costumes and a huge stock of kitchen play food) are its speciality. 1179 Lexington Ave between 80th and 81st Sts (212-288-3383, enchanted-toys.com).


Kidding Around

For more than 15 years, this all-ages emporium has kept downtown kids playing. Owner Christina Clark’s well-edited selection of toys includes cars, dolls and science kits from favorite brands like Bruder, Alex and Folkmanis. There’s also a terrific collection of stocking stuffers up front. 60 W 15th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-645-6337, kiddingaround.us).

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Kisan Concept Store

Critics' pick

At this Iceland-based store, families will find rare goodies from around the globe. The owners’ passion for their products is evident in the carefully curated assortment of toys, books and clothing. We also love the chic space, designed by Work Architecture Company. 125 Greene St between Prince and W Houston Sts (212-475-2470, kisanstore.com).

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A Time for Children

Don’t let the tiny storefront fool you—the shop’s floor-to-ceiling shelves are packed with new classics from Melissa & Doug, Schylling and more. The best part: your gift gives back, with 100% of the store’s profits benefiting the Children’s Aid Society. 506 Amsterdam Ave between 84th and 85th Sts (212-580-8202,atimeforchildren.org).

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Upper West Side

AC Gears

Not sure what to get for your tween? We understand. Thankfully, this trendy minichain offers the hottest imported gadgets, toys and tech accessories for Japanophiles and music lovers. Staffers will point you in the right direction if you’re not down with these types of products yourself. *69 E 8th St between Greene St and University Pl (212-260-2269, acgears.com); *106 Greenwich Ave between Jane and 14th Sts (212-741-2106, acgears.com).

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Greenwich Village


“I always choose toys that I would purchase for my own children,” says owner Karen Barwick. The shop is a family affair: Her lucky sons help test potential merchandise from companies like Gamewright, Jellycat, Toysmith, Kettler, Quercetti and Lego. *2 World Financial Center at Liberty St (212-786-3011, boomerangtoys.com); *119 West Broadway between Duane and Reade Sts (212-226-7650, boomerangtoys.com); *646 Forest Ave at Bement Ave, Staten Island (718-448-0873, boomerangtoys.com).

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If life is just a big rock & roll party for your family, this duo of Tribeca shops is your go-to source for toys and furniture (Babesta Cribz) and clothing (Babesta Threads). With a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor (“Babesta”—get it? Like “Gangsta”), the stores stock cool toys by the likes of Automoblox, Kids On Roof, Totem and Zolo. If you prefer to browse in your PJs, shop online and your items can be ready for pickup at the store, or hand-delivered to you for free—a major time-saver during the holiday crunch. Babesta Cribz, 56 Warren St between West Broadway and Church Sts (646-290-5508, babesta.com); Babesta Threads, 66 West Broadway between Murray and Warren Sts (212-608-4522, babesta.com).

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Financial District

Blue Ribbon General Store

Located on a cheery Brooklyn corner, this modern “urban general store” is the perfect matchup for a gift list that spans from baby and kid to teen and adults. In the toy department you’ll find old stalwarts such as Silly Putty and Tinkertoys, as well as new classics including Sunprint Kits and Fashion Origami. 365 State St at Bond St, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-522-9848, blueribbongeneralstore.net).


Fred Flare

Though not technically a children’s store, this temple of cuteness appeals to a kid’s sense of humor and never fails to deliver in the gift department for ages six and up. Stock up on fun gifts like cupcake-flavored dental floss and lamps shaped like giant Mister Softee cones. 175 North 10th St between Bedford and Driggs St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-9221, fredflare.com).

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Critics' pick

Don’t be put off by the seemingly unpronounceable name (it’s “MIX-EE-PLIZ-IK,” after a villain in Superman comics); head right to this West Village store to get your gift shopping for kids and adults done in one fell swoop. In operation since 1992, the shop offers a tightly edited but respectable assortment of quirky and well-designed items for everyone on your list. 125 Greenwich Ave at 13th St (800-243-9810, mxyplyzyk.com).

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West Village