Best indie shops: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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  • Abode New York

  • Academy Record Annex

  • A&G Merch

  • Beacon's Closet

  • The Brooklyn Kitchen

  • Brooklynski

  • Built by Wendy

  • Catbird

  • Desert Island

  • Fille de Joie

Abode New York

Abode New York
Find sleek styles, bold colors and cool graphics in Tony Wong's two-year-old contemporary housewares shop. Nothing here is clunky or unwieldy, and most of the items fit just right in small apartments. Look for that perfect pop of color in Abode's many bowls, serving trays, linens, bedding and rugs from eco-friendly brands like Goldiehome, Paper Cloud and Teroforma. 179 Grand St between Bedford and Driggs Aves (718-388-5383, abode-newyork.com)

Academy Record Annex
In a city that's saturated with places to buy music, the six-year-old Academy Record Annex stands out for its devotion to vinyl. There are more than 25,000 LPs in stock, spanning a variety of genres; you're as likely to find the soundtrack to a Monty Python film as you are the Wu-Tang Clan's Wu-Tang Forever. That diversity is "kind of our thing," says store manager Mike Hunchback. You'll also find a small selection of used classic rock and alternative CDs toward the front of the store, but the real treasures here are unearthed by flipping through the racks of records. There are listening stations available if an album strikes your fancy (next to a note that admonishes singing along), and ARA will also buy used, unscratched vinyl, either for cash or trade. 96 North 6th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave (718-218-8200, academyannex.com)

A&G Merch
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 berstylish pieces you'll find—such as small, modular couches named after Brooklyn nabes, including Greenpoint and Cobble Hill. Unlike at 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. 111 North 6th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave (718-388-1779, aandgmerch.com)

Beacon's Closet
There's a reason that the Williamsburg outpost of this perennially cool thrift store pops up on best-of lists year after year: the selection is mind-bogglingly large. So if you're willing to set aside several hours to pick through the many racks of clothes (the stock is spread out over more than 5,000 square feet), you'll unearth some serious steals: We've scoped pieces by Marc Jacobs, Betsey Johnson and Theory among the usual hipster detritus from Urban Outfitters and H&M. Looking to sell your own cast-offs? Clean, gently-used duds are inspected on the spot for their resale value (which is determined by seasons or what the store needs stocked). You'll receive either a percentage of the resale value in cash (35 percent) or store credit (55 percent) to put toward your next purchase. 88 North 11th St at Wythe Ave (718-486-0816, beaconscloset.com)

The Brooklyn Kitchen
This everything-cooking store recently expanded into a two-level facility: The first floor shills essentials for every home chef, including bulk food ($2/lb for flour), knives ($25--$300), pots and pans (vintage Pyrex starts at $25), as well as coffee makers and food processors. The second floor, meanwhile, is reserved for bakers (an entire wall is devoted to cookie cutters). The Brooklyn Kitchen also houses two teaching kitchens for classes and private parties, and an in-house butcher shop (The Meat Hook) ensures that shoppers browse to the scent of freshly made sausage. 100 Frost St between Leonard St and Manhattan Ave (718-389-2982, thebrooklynkitchen.com)

Brooklynski
Since moving their shop from Greenpoint to Williamsburg, husband-and-wife team Basia Grocholski and Douglas Friedmutter have three times as much space to show off their stock of handmade gifts. The shelves, lined with the work of more than 30 mostly local designers and artists, offer well-designed jewelry, home accessories and a small selection of CDs from local musicians. 351 Graham Ave between Conselyea St and Metropolitan Ave (718-389-0901, brooklynski.com).

Built by Wendy
Chicago native Wendy Mullin has quietly built herself a low-key clothing empire since Built by Wendy launched in 1991: The colorful guitar straps she once designed (favored by hip rockers like Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth) have since expanded into both men's and women's clothing lines, along with a series of patterns (created with sewing giant Simplicity) and books that teach creative customers how to make their own stylish threads. The Williamsburg location of Built by Wendy opened in 2005 as a companion to Mullin's 13-year-old flagship Nolita store, and you'll find unfussy items liked cotton dresses, denim shirts and tees that are flattering, comfortable and incredibly cool. 46 North 6th St between Kent and Wythe Aves (718-384-2882, builtbywendy.com).

Catbird
Rony Vardi opened her teeny accessories boutique in 2006 as a companion to the larger, clothing-focused outpost of Catbird on Metropolitan Avenue. Though that store closed in 2009, the girly, white-walled Bedford branch is still going strong, offering a carefully curated selection of jewelry, accessories, home goods and more. "I consider it my life's work," explains Vardi of her quest to find pieces by new or little-known—but amazing—designers. In addition to sourcing items by Kings County jewelry artisans like Bittersweets NY and Flotsam and Jetsam, Vardi also designs a house line featuring delicate rings and pendants fashioned after letters of the alphabet, seahorses or the great state of New Jersey. 219 Bedford Ave between North 4th and 5th Sts (718-599-3457, catbirdnyc.com)

Desert Island
Don't expect to dig through long boxes of dusty old comic books here. The stock here comprises new titles, back issues, graphic novels, children's books, and signed prints from artists like Dash Shaw, Paul Pope and Lauren Weinstein. Remember to pick up a copy of Smoke Signal, the shop's free newspaper, which highlights underground and emerging authors and artists. 540 Metropolitan Ave between Lorimer St and Union Ave (718-388-5087, desertislandbrooklyn.com)

Fille de Joie
CC McGurr's boutique is packed with designer vintage items from French, Italian and other European designers, including Sonia Rykiel, Adrianna Papell and Emanuel Ungaro. The shopkeeper specializes in pieces from the '80s, especially styles McGurr says have "boomeranged with a vengeance"—ripped and shredded garments, one-shouldered numbers and anything with rhinestone studs. A house line of candy-inspired jewelry and classy lingerie round out the collection. 197 Grand St between Bedford and Driggs Aves (718-599-3525, filledejoienyc.com)

 

 

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