In a big ol’ eff-you to the proverbial Man, Brooklyn Collective opened its doors to artists who wanted to showcase their work without the pressures of corporate retail. Members bear the brunt of the rent and keep 100 percent of their profits. Check out the whimsical illustrations by Delaney Larson or impossibly delicate gold-leaf earrings by Jess Yam.
More shops for gifts in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
It’s not unusual to see this shop’s eccentric offerings spilling onto the sidewalk out front: creepy doll parts, antique flasks, tooled leather handbags and platform clogs—even a pram heaped with astronaut ice cream. Inside, owner Nadia Tarr’s versatile Butter by Nadia dresses are displayed on vintage Garment District hangers, and a wall of yanked-ajar wooden drawers houses old-fashioned candy (Abba-Zaba, Chase’s Cherry Mash), plus Brooklyn-made Saipua soaps and D.S. & Durga perfumes. A rack showcases a rotating crop of vintage dresses, but Tarr is forever on the hunt for unique menswear, including dead-stock army parkas and anything Pendelton or Woolrich.
When owner Gaia DiLoreto left the corporate world in October 2009, she fell headfirst into Brooklyn’s red-hot restaurant scene, enrolling in a restaurant management course at the Institute of Culinary Education and refining her palate on local specialties. Soon after, she focused on opening a single destination that provides an array of New York–made culinary and shopping picks. The modern-day general store has a hodgepodge of offerings, including pickles, soaps, honey, T-shirts, jewelry, paper goods and books by Brooklyn authors. Stock your cabinets with Take Me Homeware embossed ceramic plates ($22–$50), fill your jewelry box with linguaNigra hammered-gold-coin earrings ($50–$115) and necklaces ($70–$150), and load your closet with KimmChi cotton graphic T-shirts ($28). DiLoreto says the only things she’s not featuring are high fashion and prepared foods—yet.
Mike Kuhle and Adele Berne’s shop smells as good as it looks, thanks to its ample supply of Baxter of California candles and grooming products. And the shop attracts the sort of guy who’s into that—one who’d burn a candle while shaving, then slip into a pair of straight-leg jeans made from Japanese selvedge-denim and a lightweight gingham button-down (designed by the shop’s owners). Other top picks include ties, tie bars, cuff links, hats hand-knit by Berne’s mama, scores of Toms shoes, and dresses, tunics and heels for the ladies.
If Steve McQueen were alive and bumming around Brooklyn, this is where he’d shop. Everything about the rustic Americana boutique screams King of Cool: Waxed-cotton jackets, durable dungarees, pyramids of old-timey Layrite pomades. Owner Marylynn Piotrowski hawks all the classics, incluidng Built by Wendy dresses, Jack Spade carryalls, Moscot sunglasses, Levi’s 501 selvedge, Red Wing work boots, plus unisex jewelry by Digby & Iona. And yeah, the motorcycles parked inside the store are also for sale.
Tom Diller’s eclectic shop is a neighborhood institution—if only because he made it one. The storekeeper strikes up a conversation with everybody who walks through the door, and is eager to share the stories behind his artisan stock: record bowls, hand-stitched Indian quilts, unisex pajamas printed with Hong Kong personal ads, handwoven Oaxacan laundry baskets, even wallets fashioned from The New York Times’Arts section.
Fans of the cheery Environment337, located two doors up from Retrospect, will sense a little Jekyll-and-Hyde action going on with owner Loren Sosna’s buying habits. Her newest shop is a shrine to all that is sinister and steampunk. The cavernous space is loaded with religious iconography, creepy crawlies encased in Lucite, antler plaques, and more globes and compasses than a Lewis and Clark expedition. It’s otherworldly and wonderful, and not nearly as scary as it sounds.