Best gift shops: East Village

Find out where to shop for gifts in this downtown Manhattan neighborhood.

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Sustainable NYC

Sustainable NYC Photograph: Julia Gartland

Critics' picks

Exit 9

  • Price band: 1/4

This oddball shop is like Spencer's for grown-ups—except there are no naked fat-lady greeting cards. Gags and gaffs abound, whether they're virtually useless (Instant Gay Accent mouth spray, skull-and-crossbone-shaped ice-cube trays) or surprisingly useful (sturdy wallets, pens with flashlights and laser pointers). This is indisputably the neighborhood's go-to spot for wacky games, goofy cards, silly stocking-stuffers and everything in between.

  1. 51 Ave A between 3rd and 4th Sts
More info

John Derian

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

World-famous for his eternally popular decoupage plates and platters depicting everything from turn-of-the-century love letters to mating donkeys, Derian’s old-world-feeling shop is chock-full of great gifts like papier-mâché votive holders, canvas totes printed with images of whales , and Moroccan poufs in gold and hot pink. The adjacent dry-goods shop features a slew of covetable linens, such as delicately printed pillowcases and imported suzanis.

  1. 6 E 2nd St between Bowery and Second Ave
More info

La Sirena

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This store is jammed with all sorts of fun and colorful Mexican crafts, from wearable treasures such as serapes and sombreros to knickknacks, home-decor items and religious idols. The name, meaning "the mermaid," reflects the little shop's folkloric bent.

  1. 27 E 3rd St, (between Bowery and Second Ave)
More info

Random Accessories

  • Price band: 1/4

You’ll find things at Random Accessories that you never knew you needed—until you try choosing just one. Mini windup music boxes? Frozen smile ice trays? It’s all here, and each costs less than $10. Press your nose to the case of jewelry in the back, where you can find Mighty wallets, necklaces handmade by local artisans and tons more.

  1. 77 E 4th St , (between Bowery and Second Ave)
More info

Still House

  • Price band: 2/4

After graduating from the Pratt Institute with a degree in fine art, Urte Tylaite wanted to shift toward retail. She developed the necessary skills by working as a graphic designer and sales rep for Brooklyn boutique Swallow, and used what she learned to open her own design store in the East Village. With products ranging from jewelry ($35–$1,000) and dishware ($5–$800) to art books ($30–$75) and artisan postcards ($4–$10), Tylaite has curated a diverse collection of gifts, home goods and personal accessories that encourage visitors to peruse. “I wanted customers to feel welcomed to wander in and simply enjoy browsing,” she says. To create an inviting environment, vintage industrial lamps light the shop, and succulents and air plants garnish the store. Selections such as gdg studios faceted bowls ($35–$65) and Soft Glass pitcher-and-cup sets ($250) sit upon simple wooden shelves lining the walls or in handmade felt-lined shadow boxes for easy viewing.

  1. 117 E 7th St between First Ave and Ave A
More info

Sustainable NYC

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A mecca for eco-conscious consumers, this cheery East Village storefront hosts an earth-friendly general store (find cleaning products, beauty items, jewelry and gifts) and organic café, all between its reclaimed lumber walls. On the store side, shelves are stocked with everyday goods ranging from biodegradable trash bags ($8) to solar-powered radios ($32), but the selection of accessories and beauty products is the strongest. You’ll find recognizable brands such as Pangea Organic beauty products ($8–$34) alongside lesser-known lines like Priti, whose range of nontoxic nail polishes ($12.50) and soy nail polish remover ($11) shouldn’t be missed. We also love Zig Zag’s fair-trade wool scarves ($20) and recycled plastic bangles ($5.50) from Burkina Faso for their on-trend appeal. There’s no shortage of gifts for the tree-hugger in your life, such as Two’s Company recycled-tin letter wall hooks ($15) and Pacifica soy candles ($16).

  1. 139 Ave A at 9th St
More info

Toy Tokyo

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

You’d never guess the owner of this totally Asian toys and tchotchkes mecca is actually a Jewish dude named Israel Levarek. He sold his 20-year-old Batman figurine collection in 1999 to one year later open this store, which houses dizzying displays of memorabilia—half of which is from Japan. The shop was designed to mimic similar stores in the Land of the Rising Sun, with bright lights, crammed arrangements and goods displayed in plastic bins. Jazz up your pad with three-foot-tall collectible plastic bears modeled after pop-culture icons like Mickey Mouse, Iron Man and SpongeBob ($300–$400), or a smaller version for as little as $50. Snuggle up with quirky bubblegum-pink Gloomy Bear stuffed animals ($8–$35), squishable versions of graphic artist Mori Chack’s iconic Japanese character, whose bloody paws are a result of attacking its owner in the name of animal rights. Nostalgic dudes will flip when they see the wall of clear cases housing hundreds of Godzilla figurines ($15–$200), as well as kaiju models of various Japanese monsters ($30–$120). And yes, there’s something for girly girls, too: Pretty Blythe dolls with oversize heads (picture Barbie with a tennis-ball-size face) were taken off the market in the ’50s for scaring children, but the toys were brought back in the ’90s ($150–$250) and are sold with voguish outfit separates, such as Jackie O–like colorful sunglasses ($20) and belted tube dresses ($20–$30).

  1. 91 Second Ave, (between Fifth and Sixth Sts)
More info

RECOMMENDED: 100 best gift shops in New York

More shops for gifts

La Sirena

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This store is jammed with all sorts of fun and colorful Mexican crafts, from wearable treasures such as serapes and sombreros to knickknacks, home-decor items and religious idols. The name, meaning "the mermaid," reflects the little shop's folkloric bent.

  1. 27 E 3rd St, between Bowery and Second Ave
More info

John Derian

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

World-famous for his eternally popular decoupage plates and platters depicting everything from turn-of-the-century love letters to mating donkeys, Derian’s old-world-feeling shop is chock-full of great gifts like papier-mâché votive holders, canvas totes printed with images of whales , and Moroccan poufs in gold and hot pink. The adjacent dry-goods shop features a slew of covetable linens, such as delicately printed pillowcases and imported suzanis.

  1. 6 E 2nd St, between Bowery and Second Ave
More info

Exit 9

  • Price band: 1/4

After 16 years of doing business in the East Village, this quirky gift haven moved down the street, doubling the size of its digs in the process. The brightly lit, well-stocked space now resembles Exit 9’s Brooklyn location, with tiled floors, backlit wall shelving and light-wood display tables teeming with merch that ranges from silly (bandages that look like bacon strips, $6; giant plush microbes, $9) to sleek (Eskuché metallic-finished padded headphones, $49–$149). Narwhal billfolds made from up-cycled neckties ($45) and Raaka beautifully packaged bars of unroasted stone-ground chocolate ($5–$9) make for great last-minute presents. Nab an Oxford four-setting picnic basket ($90) for alfresco outings, or some Voluspa candles in scents like pomegranate and white currant ($30) to keep your apartment smelling fresh.

  1. 51 Ave A, between 3rd and 4th Sts
More info

Sustainable NYC

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

A mecca for eco-conscious consumers, this cheery East Village storefront hosts an earth-friendly general store (find cleaning products, beauty items, jewelry and gifts) and an organic café, Ciao for Now, all between its reclaimed lumber walls. On the store side, shelves are stocked with everyday goods ranging from biodegradable trash bags ($8) to solar-powered radios ($28), but the selection of accessories and beauty products is the strongest. You’ll find recognizable brands such as Pangea Organic beauty products ($8–$40) alongside lesser-known lines like Priti, whose range of nontoxic nail polishes ($13) and soy nail polish remover ($11) shouldn’t be missed. We also love Zig Zag’s fair-trade tie-dye scarves ($23) and recycled plastic bangles ($3–$6) from Burkina Faso for their on-trend appeal. There’s no shortage of gifts for the tree-hugger in your life, such as Two’s Company recycled-tin letter wall hooks ($15) and Pacifica soy candles ($16). The devotion to all things green continues at the in-store Ciao for Now Cafe, which emphasizes local and organic ingredients in all of its made-fresh-daily baked goods (75¢–$4) and uses quadruple-filtered water for its full range of coffee drinks ($2–$5). Enjoy an egg wrap with vegetarian sausage ($4) at a table in the sunny nook, where free Wi-Fi is available.

  1. 139 Avenue A, between St Marks Pls and 9th St
More info

Random Accessories

  • Price band: 1/4

You’ll find things at Random Accessories that you never knew you needed—until you try choosing just one. Mini windup music boxes? Frozen smile ice trays? It’s all here, and each costs less than $10. Press your nose to the case of jewelry in the back, where you can find Pocketo wallets, necklaces handmade by local artisans and tons more.

  1. 77 E 4th St, between Bowery and Second Ave
More info

Toy Tokyo

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

You’d never guess the owner of this totally Asian toys and tchotchkes mecca is actually a Jewish dude named Israel Levarek. He sold his 20-year-old Batman figurine collection in 1999 to one year later open this store, which houses dizzying displays of memorabilia—half of which is from Japan. The shop was designed to mimic similar stores in the Land of the Rising Sun, with bright lights, crammed arrangements and goods displayed in plastic bins. Jazz up your pad with three-foot-tall collectible plastic bears modeled after pop-culture icons like Mickey Mouse, Iron Man and SpongeBob ($300–$400), or a smaller version for as little as $50. Snuggle up with quirky bubblegum-pink Gloomy Bear stuffed animals ($8–$35), squishable versions of graphic artist Mori Chack’s iconic Japanese character, whose bloody paws are a result of attacking its owner in the name of animal rights. Nostalgic dudes will flip when they see the wall of clear cases housing hundreds of Godzilla figurines ($15–$200), as well as kaiju models of various Japanese monsters ($30–$120). And yes, there’s something for girly girls, too: Pretty Blythe dolls with oversize heads (picture Barbie with a tennis-ball-size face) were taken off the market in the ’50s for scaring children, but the toys were brought back in the ’90s ($150–$250) and are sold with voguish outfit separates, such as Jackie O–like colorful sunglasses ($20) and belted tube dresses ($20–$30).

  1. 91 Second Ave, between Fifth and Sixth Sts
More info

Still House

  • Price band: 2/4

After graduating from the Pratt Institute with a degree in fine art, Urte Tylaite wanted to shift toward retail. She developed the necessary skills by working as a graphic designer and sales rep for Brooklyn boutique Swallow, and used what she learned to open her own design store in the East Village. With products ranging from jewelry ($22–$1,100) and dishware ($5–$800) to art books ($30–$75) and artisan postcards ($5–$7), Tylaite has curated a diverse collection of gifts, home goods and personal accessories that encourage visitors to peruse. “I wanted customers to feel welcomed to wander in and simply enjoy browsing,” she says. To create an inviting environment, vintage industrial lamps light the shop, and succulents and air plants garnish the store. Selections such as GDG Studios faceted bowls ($35–$56), Jené DeSpain brass-and-leather necklaces ($165) and Soft Glass pitcher-and-cup sets ($250) sit upon simple wooden shelves lining the walls or in handmade felt-lined shadow boxes for easy viewing.

  1. 117 E 7th St, between First Ave and Ave A
More info

Love Shine

  • Price band: 1/4

Designer Mark Seamon’s funky gift shop sprang to life in 1997, and while his hand-sewn bags—fashioned from colorful printed canvas and oil cloth—are still a big draw, casual shoppers fall hard for the world traveler’s Haitian and Mexican imports, and Day of the Dead decorations (skulls, faux flowers). Ken Brown postcards cost just a buck, and you’d be hard-pressed to leave without at least one Mark Seamon for Love Shine creation (like a tattooed messenger bag for $52).

  1. 543 E 6th St, between Aves A and B
More info

Pink Olive

  • Price band: 2/4

A former buyer for Bloomingdale’s and Barneys New York, owner Grace Kang stocks her pair of whimsical gift shops with knickknacks ($8–$150), decorative accessories ($28–$88) and cards ($4–$6) from indie designers such as Atsuyo Et Akiko, Knot & Bow and Paper Lovely. Forgo traditional Christmas boughs and make your own with Rifle Paper Co.’s DIY botanical garlands ($24), created by stringing circular card-stock alphabet and floral tiles through ribbon. Folksy Maileg five-foot-tall pixie advent calendar dolls ($120) allow you to count down the days until Christmas by stuffing the creature’s 24 pockets with small gifts. If you’re looking to add festive flair to blank walls, check out Park Slope artist Kristiana Parn’s seasonal wooden prints ($65)—our favorite depicts bunnies resting on a holiday tree.

  1. 439 E 9th St, between First Ave and Ave A
More info

East Village Florist

  • Price band: 2/4

A whitewashed exterior, hand-painted sign and oodles of cacti and succulents make this florist shop look like something uprooted from Marfa, Texas. But it doesn’t only tread in Wild West territory: Whether you need an apologetic arrangement of exotic blossoms, a wedding bouquet of calla lilies or just a blooming cactus to spruce up your windowsill, EVF’s got something for you.

  1. 247 E 10th St, at First Ave
More info

Obscura Antiques & Oddities

  • Price band: 2/4

Entering this dark slip of a shop is a bit like getting sucked into an Edgar Allen Poe poem, or maybe just a New York steampunk fantasy. Since 1991, owner Mike Zohn has scoured antique stores and garage sales at the crack of dawn for the sort of wonderfully peculiar stuff you wish they’d feature on Antiques Roadshow. “The things I get have a certain look or feel to them—you just know,” says Zohn. “Everything is either odd or off base, and sometimes both.” That distinction applies to aviator goggles, grizzly-bear skulls, teeth molds, taxidermied birds, Victorian apparel and old cameras. Each item has a story, and Zohn will tell you all about it, whether you’re here to buy or just to add something to your wish list. Obscura will even work with you on a wedding registry, so you and your partner can count that moose hoof that doubles as an ashtray among your most precious shared possessions.

  1. 280 E 10th St, between First Ave and Ave A
More info

Patricia Field

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Some people celebrate their 40th anniversary with diamonds or extravagant parties. Patricia Field commemorated her 40th year in retail with a new boutique. Marking a return to the East Village after closing her seminal 8th Street store in 1996, the two-level Bowery shop is a veritable This Is Your Life–style retrospective of the fashion icon’s costume-design career. Graffiti by street artist De la Vega, trophies from the sets of Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, and a neon sign from her shuttered Hotel Venus outpost make lively set dressings for playful garb such as Heatherette chiffon frocks ($336), Michael and Hushi halter dresses ($380), and Field’s own “Girls (and Boys) Just Wanna Have Fun”–themed togs. And for shoppers (and drag queens) in need of a pre–Happy Valley makeover, there’s also an on-site hair and makeup salon.

  1. 302 Bowery, between Bleecker and Houston Sts
More info

Nalata Nalata pop-up

  • Price band: 2/4

Fashion and industrial-design duo Angélique Chmielewski and Stevenson Aung, who founded this home-design e-tailer in 2013, bring their polished array of housewares ($8–$436) to their first temporary shop. The store showcases products by primarily Japanese makers who use traditional materials and manufacturing processes to create goods for modern living. Highlights of the collection include TAjiKA scissors and shears ($42–$242), which are forged from steel and copper in Japan; Los Angeles–made Hedley & Bennett aprons ($50–$98), crafted from selvage denim,; and the Umbrella Shop handmade umbrellas ($60). Update your pad with Jicon porcelain pitchers ($100), Takahashi Kougei wooden dishes ($47–$68), and plywood-and-glass clocks ($120) with near-silent Seiko sweep movements.

  1. 2 Extra Pl, at 1st St
More info

Kiehl's

  • Price band: 1/4

Though Kiehl’s products are now available at department stores internationally, its original East Village location has been in place since 1851, and has been refurbished to better replicate the original apothecary’s atmosphere. The flagship space offers a variety of products made from unusual ingredients, such as French rosewater, rice and wheat (for its volumizing shampoo, $18), as well as herbal shampoos and conditioners for both canines and equines.

  1. 109 Third Ave, at 13th St
More info

Alphabets

  • Price band: 2/4

Hit up this gift shop for cutesy decorative elements and quirky presents, such as denture-shaped ice trays and porcelain stag antlers.

  1. 115 Ave A, between St. Marks Pl and E 7th St
More info

Forbidden Planet

  • Price band: 1/4

You have no excuse for buying graphic novels at Barnes & Noble when a store like this exists. Offering about 50,000 volumes, the shop boasts one of the world’s largest selections of manga and graphic novels. The ground floor is devoted to new comics, ranging from big-ticket publishers like Marvel and D.C. to one-off indie series. And there’s no need to feel intimidated. If you’ve never heard of Neil Gaiman, the helpful staff is more than happy to give you a crash course. In the upstairs loft, get lost amid the manga DVDs and books; other shelves and cases are packed with anime and sci-fi toys and action figures, offbeat horror and imported magazines like Gothic Beauty, role-playing games and quirky character T-shirts. Be sure to check the store’s Twitter feed (@fpnyc) for updates on when artists and writers will be stopping by.

  1. 840 Broadway, at 12th St
More info

Kmart

  • Price band: 1/4

Most New Yorkers we know only go to this superstore for toiletries and ugly-sweater holiday party costumes, but it may be time to expand our horizons. After all, Martha Stewart’s bed and bath wares are sold here exclusively. Entire sheet sets regularly start at $24, and she doesn’t sacrifice quality for price—just feel her 400-thread-count pillowcases for proof. But act quickly before the line is discontinued come January and replaced by Country Living magazine’s collection.

  1. 770 Broadway, at Astor Place
More info

Fragrance Shop New York

  • Price band: 1/4

Sandwiched between East Village bars, this cozy fragrance shop is one you don’t want to pass by. “A lot of people just stumble in and don’t even realize it exists,” says manager Pamela Portelli. “We’ve been here over 20 years and have really created a family-style company with repeat customers.” That might be thanks to the stash of more than 200 oils lining the shelves and the option to customize your own scent (for an extra $5). If you’d rather revive an old favorite, the staff here can accommodate that, too. “People even come in with their discontinued designer fragrances, and we’ll try to match the scent for them,” Portelli says.

  1. 21 E 7th St, between Second and Third Aves
More info

New York Costumes

  • Price band: 1/4

Even Fido and your cats can get into the spooky spirit at this affordable family-friendly party supplier. You’ll find instant ensembles including infants’ Blue’s Clues costumes and women’s hippie outfits. One combo worth shooting for: a Dick Cheney mask, camouflage vest and a fake rifle.

  1. 104 Fourth Ave, at 11th St
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Tokyo Rebel

  • Price band: 2/4

We’ve always dreamed about stepping inside a Gwen Stefani video and taking the place of one of her over-the-top, boldly styled “Harajuku Girls” backup dancers. We could easily live out our fantasy at this charming boutique, run by husband-and-wife duo Jeff and Masayo Williams (he’s American, she’s Japanese). All of the brands in the shop hail from Osaka and the Harajuku district of Tokyo, a neighborhood Jeff compares to NYC’s East Village (Tokyo Rebel is appropriately located on Avenue B). Red velvet curtains and rope lights bordering the floor highlight the simply decorated store’s limited-stock merchandise, which is organized by the Harajuku subcultures: punk, gothic and Lolita (a super-femme look). Amid the punk racks filled with pleated skirts ($100–$150) and graphic tees ($35–$49), we discovered very Stefani Sex Pot Revenge plaid hooded jackets ($169). The goth section’s dark, Victorian-inspired clothing is filled with garb that appears as if came straight out of Morticia Addams’s closet, including a long black mermaid-cut jersey skirt ($199). But our favorite piece from that dark department is a darling Atelier-Pierrot eyelet lace dress ($299). The most festive styles are found in the Lolita displays, such as tea-party-ready Angelic Pretty pastel candy-printed frocks ($300–$325) and tamer Victorian Maiden striped dresses with bows and lace ($359). There’s also a plus-size selection for Americans worried about fitting into the generally small sizes, where we spotted a pr

  1. 170 Ave B, between 10th and 11th Sts
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Amaran

  • Price band: 2/4

When husband and wife Ivan and Sonia Tonkin took a vacation to Indonesia, they fell so in love with its beauty, they decided to bring a slice of it back to New York City. Their sprawling, window-lined space offers chic ethnic imports like batik-print pillows ($40) and khussa slippers ($39), scented soy candles ($27) and gorgeous hand-carved Indonesian furniture (starting around $200). The shop also offers wares by independent designers, like clothier Johnny Was and local jeweler Jane Diaz.

  1. 109 Ave B, at 7th St
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David Barton Gym

  • Price band: 2/4

This quad-level gym in the East Village feels like a swank Meatpacking club—flattering low lights, thumping beats—and it has the goods to match in its small retail area just off the lobby. Get the party started with a box of Suck UK bar-game coasters ($15), which feature puzzles, mazes and pickup lines, or show off your toned figure in Christopher Kane body-con atomic-print dresses ($198). If you’re looking for something to wear while pumping iron rather than your fist, pick up flashy 2K by Gingham disco skull tees ($45) or David Barton’s own muscle-baring ribbed tanks, emblazoned with his gym’s mantra, look better naked ($25).

  1. 4 Astor Pl, between Broadway and Lafayette St
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Dear: Rivington

  • Price band: 4/4

The glass storefront is a stage for Moon Rhee and Hey Ja Do’s art installation-like displays; inside the white bi-level space, head downstairs for their Victorian-inspired line and select pieces by avant-garde Japanese labels such as Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto, while upstairs you’ll find a fascinating archive of vintage homewares, objects and contemporary art, including framed antique silhouettes, old globes and tins.

  1. 95 Rivington St, between Ludlow and Orchard Sts
More info

NYU Bookstore

  • Price band: 1/4

The University bookstore's new location features a kids' corner. While parents catch up over a cup of fair-trade joe at the in-house Think Coffee, tykes can explore board games and picture books.

  1. 726 Broadway, between Waverly and Washington Pls
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The Michael Colberg Collection

  • Price band: 4/4

After becoming incapacitated when an old injury flared up, therapist Michael Colberg kept busy by beading. Almost three years later in November 2010, Colberg has translated his hobby into a full-fledged business run from a quaint East Village storefront. A few glass cases display Colberg’s creations made from internationally sourced beads, such as necklaces with amber and African glass ($160) and multistrand necklaces consisting of gilded Ethiopian trading beads and precious stones like garnets and emeralds ($525). You’ll also discover pricey one-of-a-kind treasures that Colberg collected while traveling in Africa, Spain and Mexico, such as metal, bone and wood inlaid Moroccan mirrors ($650–$1,000). Everything you see in the boutique is for sale—including the intricate chandelier hanging from the ceiling ($475), the stacks of woven scarves and shawls piled on tables ($60–$90) and the brightly colored Moroccan containers scattered throughout the shop ($85–$500).

  1. 320 E 11th St, between First and Second Aves
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Users say

1 comments
paul
paul

i would like to sell you some of my atifacts ie birds carvings could you send me your email isend some of my photos please