Best gift shops: Lower East Side

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

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Gesamtkunstwerk

Gesamtkunstwerk Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Critics' picks

Bag

A quality product at a plausible price point is the recipe for a satisfied shopper, and this accessory boutique has it in the bag. Recently relocated from Nolita, this new LES location is three times the size of its old digs, and offers a wider selection of goods in a spacious, gallery-esque setting. Prices range from $99 to $325 for bags, and $50 to $150 for wallets and clutches, including standout pieces like the Tano Boogie leather bucket tote ($215), Moving on Up cobalt blue bag ($265), and lightweight unisex messenger caryall ($198) from the in-house label Relysh. Also in-store is a small collection of footwear (for more options visit sister store Shoe at 247 Mulberry St). Treat your feet to a pair of Cydwoq shoes ($198 to $340), cleverly crafted to feel as though you’re walking barefoot on sand.

  1. 197 Mulberry St, (between Kenmare and Spring Sts)
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Gesamtkunstwerk

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Unmarked and hidden below street level, Gesamtkunstwerk—which translates to “complete artwork,” but most folks call it Werk—is like shopping in an artist’s studio, complete with a work space in back and crafts displayed up front. Fresh out of the Cooper Union School of Art, business partners and friends Allie Kuzyk and Lucia Vera opened the cozy gallery to showcase the creations of local artists and sell their own quirky jewelry designs, which they craft on premise. Pick up unique gifts like Trashmour crocheted necklaces made from recycled plastic bags ($60–$90), Der Bears stuffed creatures handmade from reworked cotton, linen and velour ($10–$65), Naughty & Nice animal paintings on vintage wallpaper ($50–$350), and Kuzyk’s sterling silver and pewter pendants ($20–$50) and earrings cast from found objects, including starfish from Jones Beach and acorns from Central Park ($30). Aspiring designers, take note: Werk will offer jewelry-making workshops ($125) in its studio on Sundays from noon to 3pm, where you can learn to make your own sterling silver rings.

  1. 9 Clinton St, (between E Houston and Stanton Sts)
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PB & Caviar

  • Price band: 4/4

Co-owners Evin Cosby and Wai Chan have selected the Lower East Side to reopen their second location of PB & Caviar (the original was in Tribeca). The intimate space specializes in all-occasion women’s dresses and receives new shipments of garb every two weeks, so you can expect a constantly changing inventory. Step into the girly, purple-hued store to peruse frocks from labels such as Torn by Ronny Kobo, Sauce and Butter by Nadia. Discover dresses and separates hanging along the walls, including Hype feather-print frocks ($215) and Onion tribal halter dresses ($160). Then head to the back corner to try on Matt Bernson beaded wooden wedges ($231) and check out Barbara Wiggins artsy metallic-cover notebooks with bird designs ($28).

  1. 151 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts
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Sheherazade

  • Critics choice

This Oriental-decor dealer has been importing home furnishings from the Middle East and North Africa for more than eight years, which means it surpassed the original Scheherazade’s 1001 Arabian Nights about five years and several dozen divans ago. Rich walnut benches, tables and mirrors from Syria with mother-of-pearl inlays ($650–$1,600) are almost too pretty to use, despite their solid heft.

  1. 121 Orchard St between Delancey and Rivington Sts
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The Tenement Museum Shop

  • Critics choice

This shop, which is adjacent but connected to the Tenement Museum, sells New York City books and souvenirs, with particular deference to items evocative of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The space also hosts a regular series of lectures and book signings that more often than not have a historical focus.

  1. 103 Orchard St between Broome and Delancey Sts
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RECOMMENDED: 100 best gift shops in New York

More shops for gifts on the LES

Pilgrim

  • Price band: 2/4

Part boutique, part art gallery, this elegant space showcases paintings, antiques, designer vintage apparel and accessories, and Pilgrim’s own ready-to-wear line. Designer and co-owner Richard Ives balances ’60s-inspired cocktail frocks ($110–$410) with flirty bustiers and menswear-style shirts. The selection of unusual jewelry, handbags and sunglasses includes rare finds from Chanel and YSL by way of top-secret Parisian vintage vendors.

  1. 70 Orchard St, between Broome and Grand Sts
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Moo Shoes

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Cruelty-free footwear is no longer a crime against fashion. Moo stocks a variety of brands for men and women, such as Vegetarian Shoes and NOVACAS, plus styles from independent designers such as Elizabeth Olsen, whose arty line of high heels and handbags is anything but hippyish.

  1. 78 Orchard St, between Grand and Broome Sts
More info

The Tenement Museum Shop

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This shop, which is adjacent but connected to the Tenement Museum, sells New York City books and souvenirs, with particular deference to items evocative of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The space also hosts a regular series of lectures and book signings that more often than not have a historical focus.

  1. 103 Orchard St, at Delancey St
More info

Wendy Mink Jewelry

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Jewelry designer Wendy Mink’s globe-trotting past informs her current work, in which she blends aspects of Victorian and Indian design to create contemporary classics using semiprecious stones, gold vermeil, resin and sterling silver. Handcrafted in her Tribeca studio and sold online and in her 500-square-foot boutique, Mink’s wearable gold cuffs ($170–$200), colorful pendants ($98–$225) and chunky cocktail rings ($98–$245) will take you from day to night, downtown to uptown—and anywhere else you need to go.

  1. 72 Orchard St, between Broome and Grand Sts
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The Future Perfect

  • Price band: 2/4

Championing avant-garde interior design, the Future Perfect showcases international and local talent. Heather Dunbar’s ‘Graf’ pillows ($175) employ folksy needlepoint to re-create Brooklyn graffiti, while Parsons graduate Sarah Cihat’s ‘rehabilitated’ china is reglazed with appealing retro-vibe images (phonographs, astronauts, anchors).

  1. 55 Great Jones St, between Bowery and Lafayette St
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Lower East Side Tenement Museum Shop

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The LES Tenement Museum, housed next door to a series of apartments that were home to nearly 7,000 working-class immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, aims to offer a glimpse into the lives of those residents. The institution’s shop continues the mission by selling a mix of educational and playful knickknacks and memorabilia that retell the many stories of Manhattan’s Lower East Side—and show off some serious NYC pride. We’re especially fond of the New York Greek-diner mug ($13), a ceramic interpretation of the classic "We are happy to serve you" cup, and the subway-map Mighty Wallet ($15).

  1. 103 Orchard St , at Delancey St, 10002
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Flower Girl

  • Price band: 2/4

Owner Denise Porcaro got her start in the floral business by arranging blooms at The Park, the restaurant where she worked while in film school. She went on to amass a client list that includes Levi’s, the Gramercy Park Hotel and Zac Posen, and eventually opened a shop inside the Earnest Sewn store. Now, Porcaro has branched out on her own with this rustic stand-alone retail space, featuring white painted-brick walls that allow seasonal plants, such as scabiosa pods, herbs and fiddlehead ferns ($3 per stem), to shine. A bevy of in-house items, including handmade shea-butter soaps ($12), terrariums ($35–$395), handmade denim aprons ($65) and canvas tote bags ($18), are artfully arranged on worn wood tables and shelves.

  1. 245 Eldridge St, between E Houston and Stanton Sts, 10002
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Any Old Iron

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

One trip to British designer and stylist Andrew Clancey’s new music-inspired menswear shop will have you humming Beatles tunes and rethinking your national loyalty. Clancey, who has styled Peaches Geldof and Snow Patrol, has brought his funky fashions—and two Big Ben–size British flags—to the LES, with must-haves like Sgt. Pepper’s–inspired Red Mutha blazers with denim patchwork ($300), London Undercover umbrellas ($74) and A Child of the Yago striped Daz jeans ($310).

  1. 149 Orchard St, between Rivington and Stanton Sts, 10002
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Kaight (CLOSED)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

At owner Kate McGregor’s green-chic boutique, eco-conscious fashionistas can scoop up sustainable styles from local designers such as Samantha Pleet and Feral Childe, in addition to TOMS shoes and JADEtribe totes (made by Laotian artisans using recycled materials). Beyond its ethically produced collections, the store’s low-impact philosophy extends to its bamboo floors and homemade shelving, cobbled together from castoff materials found in Greenpoint.

  1. 83 Orchard St, between Broome and Grand Sts
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Babeland

  • Price band: 1/4

At this friendly sex-toy boutique—run by women and skewed toward women—browsers are encouraged to handle all manner of buzzing, wriggling and bendable playthings, including the famed Rabbit Pearl vibrator. The shop also stocks a huge variety of condoms and hosts frank sex-ed classes on a variety of subjects. Browse and sign up for classes at Babeland

  1. 94 Rivington St, between Ludlow and Orchard Sts
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Miss Hoe

  • Price band: 2/4

You may feel as though you stepped through the looking glass upon entering designer Abby Hoe’s quirky dollhouse-like store. A hot-pink chandelier hangs from an upside-down table painted to look like a clock, zipper-mouthed puppets sit in teeny chairs along the windowsill, and antique lamps with doll heads decorate the shop. You won’t find sizes on the lacy eponymous tags, since all styles are made loose and billowy enough to fit most body types. Pinewood racks and wicker hangers show off cotton dresses embroidered with music notes ($88), cropped crocheted tanks ($125), floral blouses ($85–$98), printed maxi dresses ($125) and multicolored patchwork totes ($55). Create your own bracelet by selecting kitschy plush toy charms ($15 each) and linking them to metal and fabric chains ($3–$7).

  1. 2 Prince St, at Bowery
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Papyrus

  • Price band: 2/4

Stationary. A lot of it. In the custom printing section, on-site graphic designers can honor your wishes for letterhead adorned with colored inks, pearlized paper and your fave images. There’s also a letterpress printing service offering exclusive designs for your change-of-address announcements. Of course, you can also pick up personalized basket-weave notebooks ($10–$13), frames ($5–$68) and paperweights ($32) to beautify your desk. Various other locations.

  1. 753 Broadway, at 8th Street
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Blake Scotland

  • Price band: 2/4

Stop complaining that every other indie dude and hipsterette has the same Urban Outfitters threads as you, and head to this LES gem for quality basics and showstopper staples. The cozy exposed-brick space features racks of clothes—surrounded by rustic wooden beams—and on-trend essentials that reflect owner Blake Scotland’s bold street style. Ladies’ Alternative Apparel soft cotton tanks ($40) and Siwy jeans ($152–$185) share space with more daring Torn by Ronny Kobo tribal-print maxidresses ($149). Lads will find Raf Sanchez short-sleeved tees ($30) and classic Levi’s ($65).

  1. 62 Clinton St, between Rivington and Stanton Sts
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Bloodline NYC

  • Price band: 2/4

Fill your abode with vintage and contemporary goods from this well-edited Lower East Side home-design boutique. Worldly wares include Brazilian cowhide rugs ($550), Mongolian sheepskin cushions ($260) and a vintage porcelain sugar-and-milk set designed by Tapio Wirkkala ($25 per piece).

  1. 100A Forsyth St, between Broome and Grand Sts
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Gargyle

  • Price band: 2/4

Wooden tennis rackets adorn the walls at this clever concept store, where the classic country-club aesthetic is infused with an urban edge. The culture clash works surprisingly well, proving that prepsters and hipsters can shop in harmony, choosing from the well-edited selection of playful dresses and chic separates, men’s tops and bottoms, and shoes and accessories for all. Look for pieces from hip local and international designers like Rachel Comey and Karen Walker, mixed with quirky antique picture frames and vintage animal figurines.

  1. 16A Orchard St, between Canal and Hester Sts
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Miss Lonelyhearts

  • Price band: 2/4

When designing her debut store, Jenny Yuen faithfully channeled the spirit of Nathanael West’s 1930s novel about a newspaper advice columnist specializing in romantic woe. The shop’s vintage wallpaper evokes an old-fashioned sitting parlor, and the cozy writing nook—complete with antique typewriter—seems the perfect place to sift through correspondence from the lovelorn. The boutique is, as it turns out, the perfect place to browse Yuen’s nerdy-flirty ready-to-wear collection ($35–$325) and locally made leather bags ($125–$375), which are sold alongside jewelry from Erica Weiner and Digby & Iona. There are vintage romance novels on hand and a cheekily named Boy Toy Bench where shopping-weary boyfriends can lounge.

  1. 250 Broome St, between Ludlow and Orchard Sts
More info

PB & Caviar

  • Price band: 2/4

Co-owners Evin Cosby and Wai Chan have selected the Lower East Side to reopen their second location of PB & Caviar (the original was in Tribeca). The intimate space specializes in all-occasion women’s dresses and receives new shipments of garb every two weeks, so you can expect a constantly changing inventory. Step into the girly, purple-hued store to peruse frocks from labels such as Torn by Ronny Kobo, Sauce and Butter by Nadia. Discover dresses and separates hanging along the walls, including Hype feather-print frocks ($215) and Onion tribal halter dresses ($160). Then head to the back corner to try on Matt Bernson beaded wooden wedges ($231) and check out Barbara Wiggins artsy metallic-cover notebooks with bird designs ($28).

  1. 151 Ludlow St, between Rivington and Stanton Sts
More info

Recollections at The Tenement Museum

  • Price band: 2/4

A 1930s Remington Noiseless typewriter may come from days of yore, but like most of the goods at Recollections: The Antiques and Collectibles Shop of the Tenement Museum, it'll also fit in with your modern-day decor. Housed in the former spot of the visitor's center, the charming curiosities shop is laid out like a home, decorated with furnishings and objects from the 1860s through 1950: Peruse a 1940s shaving mirror ($85), or an elegant Manny Bowman 1920s Art Deco coffee set ($150). If your pad isn't big enough for the hefty Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine ($300), then rifle instead through old Butterick sewing patterns ($12) for a nostalgia fix.

  1. 90 Orchard St, at Broome St
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Valeria Smith Buenos Aires

  • Price band: 3/4

We’re pegging Valeria Smith as the Kate Spade of Argentina, and we suspect that preps will go bananas for her handcrafted lavish bags, wallets and shoes. The Buenos Aires native’s first stateside 800-square-foot store boasts wooden floor-to-ceiling cases showing off the line’s exotic accessories. Nab some arm candy such as limited-edition vibrant patent-leather cross-body bags ($340) and hand-painted faux-snakeskin clutches ($450). Or treat your feet with splurgeworthy kicks, including leather bejeweled open-toe pumps ($290) and snakeskin leather flats ($240).

  1. 85 Mercer St , between Broome and Spring Sts
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Mastihashop

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Talk about specializing: Not only does this mod apothecary solely carry goods from the Greek isle of Chios, it deals primarily in those spiked with the rare tree resin mastiha. Sisters Artemis and Kalliopi Kohas, whose ancestral roots stem from the island, work with a co-op in Greece to create a range of products that seize upon the herbal sap’s therapeutic qualities, like toothpaste and rose petal gum to combat halitosis and gingivitis; eggplant and leek chutney for aiding digestion; and shampoo and shower gel that strengthen hair and regenerate skin.

  1. 145 Orchard St, at Rivington St
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NY Wax Boutique

  • Price band: 2/4

In July 2009, married couple Louis and Yvoni (who asked that their last names not be used) moved from Greece to America with plans of opening a candle shop. “It’s very hard to open a very small shop in Greece,” Louis says. “There are mostly large department stores or chains.” Now, the pair has settled into their LES boutique, which features colorful scented candles ($19–$140) lining bright-orange shelves. Sobota handmakes the candles in the basement workroom, layering products of nature (flowers, palms, dried fruit pods, bark, etc.) in the wax. Some standouts include a small round ivory gardenia-scented candle with woven grapevines and birch branch accents ($23); a rectangular mahogany-scented rust orange vessel with four tea lights and a pinecone decoration ($60); and a light burgundy rectangular piece that’s clove-scented and features sea sponge, preserved wax rose, palm leaves and salt stones ($43).

  1. 145 Orchard St, between Rivington and Stanton Sts
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James Coviello

Designer James Coviello's Lower East Side shop offers his entire collection along with limited-edition accessories and a selection of art books, candles and stationery. “I was going for a cross between a 19th-century women’s haberdashery and a cabinet of curiosities,” says Coviello. “I tried to create a space where people could forget the world outside and wrap themselves up in a warm, inviting and nostalgic place.” Customers can peer into the designer’s studio (located behind the pint-size boutique), which executes special orders, custom designs and free alterations.

  1. 70 Orchard St, between Broome and Grand Sts
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