Best gift stores in New York City

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The Conran Shop

After its months-long housecleaning sale, the store has finally relocated to its new permanent home in the basement of ABC Carpet & Home’s flagship. Despite the implications, Conran’s buyers have sunshine on the brain: Find bright metal folding chairs ($99), rattan tables ($450) and graphic fish-printed serving platters ($29), perfect for forthcoming rooftop fiestas.

  1. 888 Broadway , (at 19th St)
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MoMA Design Store

  • Critics choice

A must for design fans, the museum’s stand-alone retail arm assembles an impressive array of contemporary furnishings and gifts, including sculptural vases, clocks, kitchenware and gadgets. Downstairs, along with larger furniture, is an outpost of Japanese lifestyle store Muji.

  1. 81 Spring St, (at Crosby St)
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Matter

The Soho spin-off of the Brooklyn design store offers an international selection of furniture, homewares and jewelry, including architect Zaha Hadid’s interlocking Nekton stools and hot duo FredriksonStallard’s provocative cross-shaped clothes brushes. There are great New York-centric gifts too: Look out for metal manhole-cover coasters by Curios and Tel Aviv-based Johnathan Hopp’s miniature porcelain buildings.

  1. 405 Broome St, (between Centre and Lafayette Sts)
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Moss

Murray Moss’s sophisticated and progressive taste in home goods is expertly presented and showcased behind locked glass cases and sectioned off with white metal handrails. The assorted selection of studio pieces, furniture, lighting, watches, jewelry and tabletop items ranges from a Vinini mouth-blown Murano stained-glass window ($60,000) to a Charlotte van der Waals world-time clock ($75).

  1. 152 Greene St, (between Houston and Prince Sts)
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Pearl River Mart

  • Critics choice

For those who don’t have the patience or energy for the Chinatown markets, this department-store-size emporium offers a browsing wonderland under one roof. With two sprawling floors of merch and a no-frills tea balcony for the weary shopper, this is the type of place where you can kill hours on end—and stumble upon countless things you never knew you needed, like a Chairman Mao piggybank or cheap kimono-and-slippers combo. Troll the shelves and bins for plenty of useful stuff, too, including Asian snacks and sweets, well-priced housewares (curtains, woks, lamps), and Feng Shui–promoting incense and flowers.

  1. 477 Broadway, (between Broome and Grand Sts)
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Mxyplyzyk

  • Critics choice

New York apartments are notoriously small, so finding home goods that do double duty is a necessity. At this shop (whose impossible-to-pronounce name refers to an old Superman comic-book character), almost every practical item also functions just as well decoratively. Every inch of this 1,500-square-foot shop is lined with giftable utilitarian items packaged in hyperstylish exteriors. Come here for quirky housewares like a porcelain molar-shaped toothbrush holder ($22), a dish scrubber that looks like a porcupine ($13) and a mug set that stacks up to resemble a totem pole ($65). Though playfulness is certainly a theme, there are also organically influenced pieces, including reclaimed-wood nesting tables (three for $315) and grasscloth-covered lamps ($65). Stumped on what to get that person who has everything? We’re pretty sure he doesn’t already own a neon birdhouse, wiener-dog-print pajamas or a cat-shaped flashlight. Random and zany, the fun toys and gadgets here are sure to bring out your inner kid.

  1. 125 Greenwich Ave, (at 13th St)
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A&G Merch

  • Critics choice

Combining elements of a hip design store and a hunting lodge, A&G Merch carries a mix of rustic and urbane home goods. The spacious shop is an offshoot of Billyburg design mecca The Future Perfect (founder David Alhadeff is the “A” in A&G’s name; the “G” is for co-founder Jill Goldhand), hence the überstylish pieces you’ll find—like small, modular couches named after Brooklyn nabes, including Greenpoint and Cobble Hill. Unlike its quirkier sister store, many of the items at A&G have a rugged appeal, like a chandelier designed to look like a bug zapper.

  1. 111 North 6th St, (between Berry St and Wythe Ave)
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Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

  • Critics choice

Founded in 1897 by the Hewitt sisters, granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper, the only museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to design (both historic and modern) has been part of the Smithsonian since the 1960s. In 1976 it took up residence in the former home of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie: It’s worth a look as much for the impressive mansion as for the roster of temporary exhibitions, which include an always-interesting series in which works are selected from the permanent collection by a prominent artist or designer. The gift shop is stocked with international design objects (some very affordable) as well as the appropriate books. An extensive renovation is planned over the next few years to expand the gallery space and create a new library, but the museum will remain open throughout 2009.

  1. 2 E 91st St, (at Fifth Ave)
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