Where to find vintage goods, lingerie, handmade crockery and baking supplies for less.
Mon Jul 26 2010
A real-world Etsy
If Etsy were a brick-and-mortar store, Candy Plum would be its Astoria location. More than 25 local designers peddle their handbags, jewelry and clothing at this retro boutique that prides itself on one-of-a-kind handmade items. Featured designers include Marel Holler, who makes leather-adorned headbands, barrettes and other hair accessories ($10--$25), and Nicole Rae Styer, who repurposes vintage clothing and accessories with ribbons, buttons and fresh tailoring ($30--$100). 30-98 36th St between 30th and 31st Aves, Astoria (718-721-2299, candyplum.com). Subway: N, Q to Broadway.
Any baking supply you could ever need
Sugar Room Cake Supplies owner Juan Arache bears a proud sweets pedigree. After culinary school, he worked at both the Little Pie Company and the Cupcake Caf, before opening his own cakecentric business in Sunnyside eight years ago. He now prides himself on low prices and highly specialized equipment and ingredients, including what he claims is "the best and cheapest fondant in New York City" (2lbs $9.99, 20lbs $59.99). Arache not only has every shape and size pan you can think of (soccer balls, butterflies, teddy bears, wedding dresses, golf bags), but he'll also provide on-the-spot tutorials for adding professional touches like colored-sugar designs and icing embellishments. Plus, he offers basic baking and cake-decorating classes on the premises, covering skills such as perfecting pineapple upside-down cake and icing flowers (seven-week course $500). 44-21 Queens Blvd between 44th and 45th Sts, Sunnyside (718-707-2900, sugarroom.com). Subway: 7 to 46th St.
Best vintage-store backstory
When Stray Vintage co-owners Dan and Tara Glasser began dating, they did a lot of shopping. "Going to thrift shops and antique fairs together was our thing," Dan says, "so it makes sense that we wound up opening our own place." After ten years of marriage, the Sunnyside-dwelling couple has developed a sharp eye for estate-sale finds, like a gleaming black Royal Quiet typewriter ($85) and a 1958 buttercup-yellow Daystrom table with matching vinyl and chrome chairs ($500 for the set). "The whole Mad Men craze has been nuts," he says. "I can't keep vintage barware in the store for longer than five minutes!" 48-09 Skillman Ave between 48th and 49th Sts, Sunnyside (718-779-7795, strayvintage.blogspot.com). Subway: 7 to 52nd St.
Chinchilla coat—for your dog!
Walk into Le Pitou and you are immediately greeted by its owners Alexandra Matamoros, two Italian greyhounds Mona Lisa and Figaro, and a Brussels griffon called Chewbacca (who bears an uncanny resemblance to his namesake). Since 2009, Le Pitou has held the throne in the luxury dog accessory market, thanks to its boundless selection of custom-made coats and sweaters for canines, such as a handsome velvet-trimmed wool houndstooth jacket ($50--$170) and Peruvian wool hand-knit sweaters (average $50). For the warmer months, there are linen button-down shirts by Milou Couture ($30) and handmade dresses with appliqud gemstones and ribbon trim ($50--$150). Matamoros also designs her own line of dog "necklaces," slender collar-type chains bedazzled with jeweled pendants (average $50). If your Fido and Fifi deserve something even more special, pieces can be custom-ordered from exclusive dog wear designers such as Celina Mercado, including a real chinchilla coat and a zipper-trimmed shearling jacket, samples of which are kept neatly folded and tucked away in a dresser (prices vary according to the dog's size). Should your pup need refreshing between grooming sessions (which the store also offers, along with boarding), a perfume called Le Chien is available for both genders: for females, there is Martine, and for males, Christopher (each $35); according to Matamoros, this is the only store in New York that stocks it. 107-25 71st Rd between Austin St and Queens Blvd, Forest Hills (718-674-6496, lepitou.com)
DD and beyond
Don't be turned off by the campy-looking hot-pink and leopard getups in the storefront of Magic Corsets & Lingerie; beyond those lovely lacies, you'll find one of the city's largest collections of undergarments. But the specialty here is lingerie for full figures. "Women come from all over because our sizes go all the way to 54J," says owner Larisa Groysman, who does discreet fittings in the store's spacious fitting rooms; we witnessed her gently inform one woman that she was, in fact, a size E, not a DD. 70-10 Austin St between 70th Ave and 70th Rd, Forest Hills (718-261-6999). Subway: E, F, M, R to Forest Hills--71st Ave.
Find the perfect vintage frock
Vintage store Loveday 31 is a citywide favorite for good reason: The shop's hip, stylish owner, Ivona Bilicic, opened the business in 2005 after working as a buyer for Screaming Mimi's, a hub of hot-off-the-runway designer clothing in the Village. While she's kept her taste for edgy, eclectic designer pieces, her own store—which specializes in dresses—is far more wallet-friendly. Recent finds like Pucci-esque dresses ($65--$79), glossy Gucci bags ($100--$250) and an Escada jacket from the '80s ($79) were in excellent condition, and she also upgrades a number of vintage frocks to make them more modern. Most dresses, including designer items, go for less than $100, with a lot in the $49 to $80 range. 33-06 31st Ave between 33rd and 34th Sts, Astoria (718-728-4057). Subway: N, Q to Broadway.
Know who made your dinner plates
The best part about The Potter's Wheel isn't the huge, affordable selection of handmade stoneware—it's that you can usually meet the person who made it right there in the store. "Very frequently someone will be buying something, and I'll just yell over my shoulder, 'Hey, Paula, this person is buying your beautiful bowl!'?" says owner Susan Sendek. The homey studio provides space to a loyal and incredibly friendly cadre of potters who craft everything from basic mugs and dinner plates ($12--$28 each) to decorative pieces. Classes in making sculptures by hand and using the pottery wheel are also available at the studio (six-week session $270). 120-33 83rd Ave between Beverley Rd and Grenfell St, Kew Gardens (718-441-6614, potterswheelny.com). Subway: E, F to Kew Gardens--Union Tpke.
Quirky indie decor
Owner Mackenzi Farquer has a knack for spotting fun, quirky, impeccably crafted items—and that's what her store, Site, is known for. But she's also the authority on all things design-related in Astoria. Farquer writes about the local business community for the popular blog We Heart Astoria and is a fount of helpful information on local shopping spots. Her own boutique offers a well-edited selection of cheerful decorative objects, like a clock made of silverware, spatulas and serving spoons ($55), and owl-shaped white ceramic pitchers in various sizes ($24--$32). If you're looking for a sweet, affordable gift (or maybe just a little something for yourself) and want to support a local artist, check out the gorgeous handmade paper-flower bouquets, which pop with origami lilies, roses and irises ($32). 35-11 34th Ave between 35th and 36th Sts, Astoria (718-626-6030, sitedesignnyc.com). Subway: N, Q to Broadway.
You must try this kibbe
The scents of pillowlike meat pies ($1.75), honey cake ($1.25 per generous wedge), and shaabiyeh (a nuttier version of baklava with sweet cheese folded into the pastry, $1.50 per square) waft halfway down the tree-lined block where Halal El Sheter Middle Eastern Grocery Store. You'll find Lebanese-born owner Hassan Osman grinding fresh beef in back; he's so confident in the superiority of his kibbe (a fried orb of ground meat, bulgur and seasonings; $1 each) that he regularly doles out free samples. Or try his safhi ($6 per pound). "We have people who come from all over the tristate area to buy our specialty, safhi, which is ground fresh beef with tomatoes, onions and Arabic spices," he says. What makes it so good? "A family recipe," he says coyly, "with lots of spices." Refrigerators at the back of the store offer a wide selection of cheeses, including different types of feta ($3.99--$7.99 per pound) and Armenian string cheese ($7.99 per pound), which resembles a braided rope of mozzarella. 43-02 43rd Ave between 43rd and 44th Sts, Sunnyside (718-392-2702). Subway: 7 to 40th St or 46th St.
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