Best shops in East Village for design, vintage, books and more

The best shops in the East Village echo its bohemian reputation with prime spots for vintage, books and arty items for the home.

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Though retail is less concentrated than in the West Village or on the Lower East Side, the East village has a growing number of great shops. Reflecting the neighborhood’s young, hip demographic, vintage and resale emporiums are strengths, and it also boasts standouts for home design, books and music. Our guide to the best shops in the East Village points you to our local favorites for fashion as well as one-offs selling everything from Japanese toys to eco-conscious goods. When shopping fatigue sets in, retire to one of the many bars or grab a bite.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to East Village

Azaleas

Catering to girls who just want to have fun in the bedroom, owner Cindy Kahng handpicks each frilly number to grace her store’s racks (before they grace those of her customers—har). The result is a collection of bathing suits, lingerie, loungewear, clothing and jewelry that strikes a balance between playful and sexy. You might like Elle Macpherson’s Cupcake contour bra ($68) or Stella McCartney's Marguerite riding contour bra ($110), though be sure to sift through the

  1. 223 E 10th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Buffalo Exchange

  • Critics choice

Want cash back without having to charge up a storm on your credit card? Bring your unwanted garb to the new East Village outpost of this popular buy-sell-trade clothing shop and leave with padded pockets. The best part is that they won’t turn up their noses at Forever 21—all brands are welcome. Score a pair of 7 for All Mankind jeans for $25, current-season Manolo Blahniks for $250 or unload some designer goods for major dough.

  1. 332 E 11th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Fabulous Fanny's

  • Critics choice

Whether you’re searching for rhinestone-adorned 1960s cat-eye frames or Kanye West–style shutter shades, Fanny’s specializes in one-of-a-kind eyeglasses. Moderately priced in-house brand Spectaculars features everything from posh sunnies to cosmetic frames, all starting at $135. It isn’t unusual to find four or more staffers (all willing to give you an honest opinion) crammed into this pint-size shop, which displays its specs on antique wooden dressers. Fanny’s also

  1. 335 E 9th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Gabay's

This family-run shoe and bag specialist gets most of its goods from fine department stores’ surpluses (the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Chanel) and slaps them with 50% to 80% discounts.

  1. 225 First Ave, (between 13th and 14th Sts)
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John Derian

  • 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)
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Jutta Neumann

Jutta Neumann’s Alphabet City studio and showroom is a leather junkie’s dream: Picture every color leather under the rainbow, masterfully melded into belts, wallets, sandals and more.

  1. 355 E 4th St, (between Aves C and D)
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Landmark Vintage Bicycles

A goofy old bike is a must-have accessory for any bourgeois bohemian. If you're the type who loves taxidermy and old books, you would do well to stop by Landmark, if not to romanticize your mobility, then to browse the shop's selection of three-speed cruisers and Raleigh beauties, not to mention Schwinn Breezes of many colors and rare, hard-to-find models from as far back as the 1930s. Whimsical horns, baskets, chains and other accessories are also available.

  1. 136 E 3rd St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
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La Sirena

  • Critics choice

This store is jammed with all sorts of fun and colorful Mexican craft wares, from wearable treasures like 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)
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Love Shine

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)
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Obscura Antiques and Oddities

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

This East Village staple, which hawks antiques, rare taxidermy and freaky novelties, has moved down the block into a 450-square-foot space that was once a funeral home. The spot has the same dark and twisted feel as the previous location, with creaking wooden floors, old-school hanging globe lights, and enough strange and unusual artifacts to earn owners Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson a show on the Discovery Channel, aptly called Oddities. You’ll find jarred piranhas ($25) and

  1. 207 Ave A, (between 12th and 13th Sts)
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Odin

  • Critics choice

The Norse god Odin is often portrayed sporting an eye patch and an array of shabby robes to complement his dour, bearded visage. That may have been fashionable in medieval Scandinavia, but to make it in NYC, he’d have to pick up some Robert Gellar, Rag & Bone or Comme des Garçons from this upscale men’s boutique bearing his name. Tasteful masculine jewelry and dapper shoes are also available to those with a healthy cash flow.

  1. 328 E 11th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Other Music

Other Music opened in the shadow of Tower Records in the mid-’90s, a pocket of resistance to corporate music and chain-store tedium. All these years later, the Goliath across the street has been replaced by an empty store; tiny Other Music carries on. Whereas the shop’s mishmash of indie rock, experimental music and stray slabs of rock’s past once seemed adventurous, the curatorial foundation has proved prescient, surfacing in the Wordless Music Series, (Le) Poisson Rouge

  1. 15 E 4th St, (between Broadway and Lafayette St)
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Still House

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

  1. 117 E 7th St, (between First Ave and Ave A)
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St. Mark's Bookshop

An East Village institution since the mid-’70s, St. Mark's boasts an eclectic collection of classic and contemporary fiction, as well as art books and academic texts to suit the NYU types that trickle through the shop's doors all day.

  1. 31 Third Ave, (at 9th St)
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Strand Book Store

  • Critics choice

Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. If you spend enough time here you can find just about anything, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest of sci-fi pulp.

  1. 828 Broadway, (at 12th St)
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Sustainable NYC

  • 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

  1. 139 Ave A, (at 9th St)
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Toy Tokyo

  • 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

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

  • Critics choice

Ukrainian model Vera Balyura turned her jewelry-making hobby into a full-time profession, and she can mark her success with the opening of her first-ever shop, in the East Village. Balyura’s unique recycled silver, brass, copper and 14-karat gold pieces serve as an ode to all creatures, both fictional (like mermaids and vampires) and those found in nature (such as deer and elephants). Her gothic-looking shop boasts blood-red wood floors and satin white walls, from which

  1. 315 E 9th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Users say

1 comments
Margaret Fried
Margaret Fried

I stop at Mink Vixen for most of my consignment shopping but its nice to see a few others I've never heard of listed here