Best indie shops: Upper East Side

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  • Alexis Bittar

  • Alexis Bittar

  • Alexis Bittar

  • Anya Hindmarch

  • Anya Hindmarch

  • Betsey Johnson

  • Chuckies New York

  • Chuckies New York

  • Chuckies New York

  • The Corner Bookstore

  • E.A.T. Gifts

  • E.A.T. Gifts

  • Fair Folks & a Goat

  • Fair Folks & a Goat

  • Fair Folks & a Goat

  • French Sole and French Sole outlet store

  • Jan's Hobby Shop

  • Lisa Perry

  • Lisa Perry

  • Lisa Perry

Alexis Bittar

Photographs: Virginia Rollison

Alexis Bittar
A life-sized zebra welcomes shoppers at Alexis Bittar’s boutique, a veritable safari of the designer’s most colorful accessories. Best known for his Lucite jewelry (small square bangles, drop pendants, block rings), Bittar has also expanded his collection to include precious metals. Choose from silver, gold or rose-gold pieces, adorned with semiprecious stones and Swarovski crystals. 1100 Madison Ave between 82nd and 83rd Sts (212-249-3581, alexisbittar.com).

Anya Hindmarch
The Brit handbag designer caused a green fashion frenzy a few years back with the introduction of her eco-friendly I AM NOT A PLASTIC BAG tote, but her high-end leather goods and the personalization options are what keep Hindmarch’s uptown shop thriving. As a refreshing alternative to an overstuffed wallet that takes up your whole purse, Hindmarch’s zippered Loose Pocket change purses come in an array of colors and whimsical messages (MANICURE MONEY, WEDDING FUND, etc.). Or just scope the selection of iPod cases, straw and raffia clutches adorned with brightly colored stones, and the “Be a Bag” collection, which allows shoppers to have a personal photo screen-printed on a satchel of their choosing. 29 E 60th St between Madison and Park Aves (212-750-3974, anyahindmarch.com).

Betsey Johnson
Betsey Johnson has been outfitting the girliest of girls in party frocks for more than 40 years. And though it’s hard to definitively pinpoint her appeal—is it Johnson’s eccentric style or the clothes themselves?—the designer must be doing something right. This 1,000-square-foot store is painted bubblegum pink and stocked with Johnson’s latest collection of feminine-yet-edgy apparel and accessories. Impulse purchases live by the cash register, where you can pick up tights (floral, fishnet, checkered and solids) or press your nose to a case of jewelry: Stud earrings start at $25; a more elaborate necklace, constructed with jumbo pearls, rhinestones and charms, might cost $150. 1060 Madison Ave between 80th and 81st Sts (212-734-1257, betseyjohnson.com).

Bond No. 9
The beauty of Bond No. 9’s collection of citycentric scents is that they actually manage to capture the essence of a neighborhood or street in a 50ml bottle (Bleecker, the High Line and West Broadway to name a few). Although the Madison Avenue location is smaller than the flagship on Bond Street, it’s just as chic and offers the same selection of custom-blended fragrances. 897 Madison Ave at 73rd St (212-794-4480, bondno9.com).

Chuckies New York
The modus operandi at Chuckie’s is “the higher the better.” As such, the 22-year-old shoe boutique houses enough dangerously high-heeled and platformed designer shoes to set any footwear enthusiast’s heart aflutter. And though the steep price tags might be hard to justify, one look at the selection of Jimmy Choo, YSL and Camilla Skovgaard kicks is enough to make even the most responsible shopper go weak in the knees. The boutique is one of two locations (the other is on Madison Avenue); in addition to its plethora of up-to-the-minute platform pumps, peep-toe boots and flats, Chuckies hawks belts and bags by Miu Miu, Lanvin, Chlo and Stella McCartney. 1073 Third Ave between 63rd and 64th Sts (212-593-9898, chuckiesnewyork.com).

The Corner Bookstore
This space was once home to an early-20th-century pharmacy, and it still boats the trappings of its former occupant. Owned by couple Raymond Sherman and Helene Golay (who also happen to live upstairs) since 1978, the store works hard to set itself apart from bookstore chains by offering its literary clientele a smartly curated selection of fiction and nonfiction titles (including a few autographed copies), as well as a wide array of children’s books. 1313 Madison Ave at 93rd St (212-831-3554).

E.A.T. Gifts
Good luck leaving this gift shop empty-handed. The store is filled with toys, books, cards, holiday-themed items, stationery and more. Adorably retro items like the Candy Dot wallet are fashioned to look exactly like the classic strip of sugared dots, and an entire shelf of novelty bandages (cowboys, Pac-Man and Hello Kitty) and rings (adorned with cameo lockets, miniclocks, peace signs, tiaras and oversize gems) start at just $5. Much of the store is geared toward the prepubescent set, but there are plenty of kitschy notepads, mugs and kitchen accessories to satisfy grown-ups, too. 1062 Madison Ave between 80th and 81st Sts (212-861-2544).

Fair Folks & a Goat
Art, culture and fashion cohabit at Fair Folks & a Goat, which cofounder Anthony Mazzei compares to “a physical magazine or social networking site.” Located on the third floor of a Madison Avenue townhouse, the shop functions as an all-in-one art gallery, event space, caf, and contemporary and secondhand boutique. Mazzei and his partner, Aurora Stokowski, approve everything featured here, and Amy Sande-Friedman curates the artwork. The space is appointment-only; e-mail thegoat@fairfolksandgoat.com to set one up, and you’ll be greeted with tea and cookies. The furniture selection ranges from $50-and-under items to pieces that reach well into the thousands, and there’s also plenty of jewelry, photography, books and vintage clothing (including house-made T-shirts for $30) to make the preplanned browsing feel as much like a real shopping trip as it does a gallery visit.

French Sole and French Sole outlet store
When it comes to dainty ballet flats, few do it better than French Sole. Dozens of shoe boxes line the walls at the brand’s 23-year-old flagship; the average pair goes for $150--$200. There’s also an outlet (conveniently located across the street) that stocks similar styles in last season’s colors, or discontinued styles for discounted prices—as well as sale bins where you can score a pair for just $59. 985 Lexington Ave (212-737-2859) and 976 Lexington Ave between 71st and 72nd (212-472-9200, frenchsoleshoes.com).

Jan’s Hobby Shop
The Saturday Night Live crew frequesnts Jan’s for props. The store is stuffed with model airplanes, boats, cars, trains and military tanks, as well as architecture modeling tools and race-car sets. It’s one of a handful of classic hobby stores still around (and it’s been at the same location for nearly 40 years). Specializing in radio-controlled boats, Jan’s is also a prime spot for architects to purchase sheet plastic, metal tubing, woodland scenic foliage and even miniature people (available in all different scales). 1435 Lexington Ave between 93rd and 94th Sts (212-987-4765).

Lisa Perry
Lisa Perry’s eponymous boutique is a favorite for shoppers in search of uptown clothes and quirky housewares. Known for her 21st-century take on everything ’60s, the designer’s two-and-a-half-year-old line of apparel, accessories and housewares is sold at this spacious boutique. Adhering to a strict aesthetic of punchy primary colors, clean lines and geometric shapes, standouts from Perry’s lifestyle collection include place mats, coasters and napkin, as well as vinyl pillows. 976 Madison Ave between 76th and 77th Sts (212-431-7467, lisaperrystyle.com).

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