This oddball shop is like Spencer's for grown-ups—except there are no naked fat-lady greeting cards. Gags and gaffs abound, whether they're virtually useless (Instant Gay Accent mouth spray, skull-and-crossbone-shaped ice-cube trays) or surprisingly useful (sturdy wallets, pens with flashlights and laser pointers). This is indisputably the neighborhood's go-to spot for wacky games, goofy cards, silly stocking-stuffers and everything in between.
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.
This store is jammed with all sorts of fun and colorful Mexican crafts, from wearable treasures such as serapes and sombreros to knickknacks, home-decor items and religious idols. The name, meaning "the mermaid," reflects the little shop's folkloric bent.
You’ll find things at Random Accessories that you never knew you needed—until you try choosing just one. Mini windup music boxes? Frozen smile ice trays? It’s all here, and each costs less than $10. Press your nose to the case of jewelry in the back, where you can find Mighty wallets, necklaces handmade by local artisans and tons more.
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 ($35–$1,000) and dishware ($5–$800) to art books ($30–$75) and artisan postcards ($4–$10), Tylaite has curated a diverse collection of gifts, home goods and personal accessories that encourage visitors to peruse. “I wanted customers to feel welcomed to wander in and simply enjoy browsing,” she says. To create an inviting environment, vintage industrial lamps light the shop, and succulents and air plants garnish the store. Selections such as gdg studios faceted bowls ($35–$65) and Soft Glass pitcher-and-cup sets ($250) sit upon simple wooden shelves lining the walls or in handmade felt-lined shadow boxes for easy viewing.
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 organic café, 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 ($32), but the selection of accessories and beauty products is the strongest. You’ll find recognizable brands such as Pangea Organic beauty products ($8–$34) alongside lesser-known lines like Priti, whose range of nontoxic nail polishes ($12.50) and soy nail polish remover ($11) shouldn’t be missed. We also love Zig Zag’s fair-trade wool scarves ($20) and recycled plastic bangles ($5.50) from Burkina Faso for their on-trend appeal. There’s no shortage of gifts for the tree-hugger in your life, such as Two’s Company recycled-tin letter wall hooks ($15) and Pacifica soy candles ($16).
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 three-foot-tall collectible plastic bears modeled after pop-culture icons like Mickey Mouse, Iron Man and SpongeBob ($300–$400), or a smaller version for as little as $50. Snuggle up with quirky bubblegum-pink Gloomy Bear stuffed animals ($8–$35), squishable versions of graphic artist Mori Chack’s iconic Japanese character, whose bloody paws are a result of attacking its owner in the name of animal rights. Nostalgic dudes will flip when they see the wall of clear cases housing hundreds of Godzilla figurines ($15–$200), as well as kaiju models of various Japanese monsters ($30–$120). And yes, there’s something for girly girls, too: Pretty Blythe dolls with oversize heads (picture Barbie with a tennis-ball-size face) were taken off the market in the ’50s for scaring children, but the toys were brought back in the ’90s ($150–$250) and are sold with voguish outfit separates, such as Jackie O–like colorful sunglasses ($20) and belted tube dresses ($20–$30).
More shops for gifts
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 such as Pangea Organic beauty products ($8–$40) alongside lesser-known lines like Priti, whose range of nontoxic nail polishes ($13) and soy nail polish remover ($11) shouldn’t be missed. We also love Zig Zag’s fair-trade tie-dye scarves ($23) and recycled plastic bangles ($3–$6) from Burkina Faso for their on-trend appeal. There’s no shortage of gifts for the tree-hugger in your life, such as Two’s Company recycled-tin letter wall hooks ($15) and Pacifica soy candles ($16). The devotion to all things green continues at the in-store Ciao for Now Cafe, which emphasizes local and organic ingredients in all of its made-fresh-daily baked goods (75¢–$4) and uses quadruple-filtered water for its full range of coffee drinks ($2–$5). Enjoy an egg wrap with vegetarian sausage ($4) at a table in the sunny nook, where free Wi-Fi is available.
After 16 years of doing business in the East Village, this quirky gift haven moved down the street, doubling the size of its digs in the process. The brightly lit, well-stocked space now resembles Exit 9’s Brooklyn location, with tiled floors, backlit wall shelving and light-wood display tables teeming with merch that ranges from silly (bandages that look like bacon strips, $6; giant plush microbes, $9) to sleek (Eskuché metallic-finished padded headphones, $49–$149). Narwhal billfolds made from up-cycled neckties ($45) and Raaka beautifully packaged bars of unroasted stone-ground chocolate ($5–$9) make for great last-minute presents. Nab an Oxford four-setting picnic basket ($90) for alfresco outings, or some Voluspa candles in scents like pomegranate and white currant ($30) to keep your apartment smelling fresh.
We’ve always dreamed about stepping inside a Gwen Stefani video and taking the place of one of her over-the-top, boldly styled “Harajuku Girls” backup dancers. We could easily live out our fantasy at this charming boutique, run by husband-and-wife duo Jeff and Masayo Williams (he’s American, she’s Japanese). All of the brands in the shop hail from Osaka and the Harajuku district of Tokyo, a neighborhood Jeff compares to NYC’s East Village (Tokyo Rebel is appropriately located on Avenue B). Red velvet curtains and rope lights bordering the floor highlight the simply decorated store’s limited-stock merchandise, which is organized by the Harajuku subcultures: punk, gothic and Lolita (a super-femme look). Amid the punk racks filled with pleated skirts ($100–$150) and graphic tees ($35–$49), we discovered very Stefani Sex Pot Revenge plaid hooded jackets ($169). The goth section’s dark, Victorian-inspired clothing is filled with garb that appears as if came straight out of Morticia Addams’s closet, including a long black mermaid-cut jersey skirt ($199). But our favorite piece from that dark department is a darling Atelier-Pierrot eyelet lace dress ($299). The most festive styles are found in the Lolita displays, such as tea-party-ready Angelic Pretty pastel candy-printed frocks ($300–$325) and tamer Victorian Maiden striped dresses with bows and lace ($359). There’s also a plus-size selection for Americans worried about fitting into the generally small sizes, where we spotted a pr
When husband and wife Ivan and Sonia Tonkin took a vacation to Indonesia, they fell so in love with its beauty, they decided to bring a slice of it back to New York City. Their sprawling, window-lined space offers chic ethnic imports like batik-print pillows ($40) and khussa slippers ($39), scented soy candles ($27) and gorgeous hand-carved Indonesian furniture (starting around $200). The shop also offers wares by independent designers, like clothier Johnny Was and local jeweler Jane Diaz.
This quad-level gym in the East Village feels like a swank Meatpacking club—flattering low lights, thumping beats—and it has the goods to match in its small retail area just off the lobby. Get the party started with a box of Suck UK bar-game coasters ($15), which feature puzzles, mazes and pickup lines, or show off your toned figure in Christopher Kane body-con atomic-print dresses ($198). If you’re looking for something to wear while pumping iron rather than your fist, pick up flashy 2K by Gingham disco skull tees ($45) or David Barton’s own muscle-baring ribbed tanks, emblazoned with his gym’s mantra, look better naked ($25).
The glass storefront is a stage for Moon Rhee and Hey Ja Do’s art installation-like displays; inside the white bi-level space, head downstairs for their Victorian-inspired line and select pieces by avant-garde Japanese labels such as Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto, while upstairs you’ll find a fascinating archive of vintage homewares, objects and contemporary art, including framed antique silhouettes, old globes and tins.
Although the white-washed decor is sparse, the energetic staff at this eclectic Japanese toy shop helps kick up the vibe. Expect to find everything from Uglydoll monsters to weird knickknacks like the Otomatone musical instruments (glorified electronic squeak toys, with a variable pitch, straight from Japan). The store’s 15-year-old Asian-pop-culture mag, Giant Robot, offers offbeat articles that include reviews of instant ramen packs, historical pieces on Asian gangsters, travel journals and more.
Manhattan gets a taste of countryside charm now that this upstate store has opened a Big Apple space offering quirky, beautiful vintage decor and accessories. Entering the homey spot is like walking into a curiosities shop: Items are displayed in eye-pleasing vignettes, a colorful aesthetic compliments the merchandise, and the walls are spruced up with old book pages used as wallpaper. Find well-curated art pieces, such as framed 19th-century hand-colored natural-history prints ($250), vintage snapshots of the male physique by amateur photographers ($225) and 19th-century–style still-life oil paintings by Luke Dougherty ($2,000). The collectibles are just as interesting, like production and costume designer Andy Byers’s insect and paper animal sculptures ($1,500–$3,000), originally made for a short-film series about the mating habits of bugs called Green Porno. There are lovely affordable items too, including decorative exotic seashells ($8) and muted jewel-toned handmade beeswax candles ($20–$40).
Entering this dark slip of a shop is a bit like getting sucked into an Edgar Allen Poe poem, or maybe just a New York steampunk fantasy. Since 1991, owner Mike Zohn has scoured antique stores and garage sales at the crack of dawn for the sort of wonderfully peculiar stuff you wish they’d feature on Antiques Roadshow. “The things I get have a certain look or feel to them—you just know,” says Zohn. “Everything is either odd or off base, and sometimes both.” That distinction applies to aviator goggles, grizzly-bear skulls, teeth molds, taxidermied birds, Victorian apparel and old cameras. Each item has a story, and Zohn will tell you all about it, whether you’re here to buy or just to add something to your wish list. Obscura will even work with you on a wedding registry, so you and your partner can count that moose hoof that doubles as an ashtray among your most precious shared possessions.
While working as a sales associate for menswear line Hollander & Lexer three years ago, Benjamin Ruhland started designing knitwear, envisioning he’d have an entire line of knitted togs of his own one day. Ruhland’s dream became a reality when he debuted his line, Seyrig, during 2011 New York Fashion Week. The collection of sweaters ($150–$400) falls into three categories: hand-knit, hand-loomed and machine-knitted. Standouts include women’s handmade kid mohair cropped cardigans ($260) and men’s baby alpaca and linen striped pullovers ($400), but it’s not all chunky tops. Seyrig also offers pima cotton tees ($48–$49) and knitted home goods, such as crocheted kid mohair throw pillows with real horn toggles ($80) and baby alpaca oversize striped throws ($425). In addition to the eponymous brand, the store stocks items from other labels, including Jean Shop unisex skinny jeans ($270), large hand-stitched leather tote bags ($465) and jewelry from Parisian designer Vanessa Dee (we drool over her lace-wrapped raw emerald bracelets adorned with silver bones, $375). Also look for great gift items like Vermont artisan George Peterson’s wooden bowls ($70) and wine stoppers ($35), and beautiful decorative tin and metal cups from India ($45).
Note the eclectic tone of Voz, or “voice,” from the moment you step inside: Loose pages from a 1950s Webster’s dictionary are pressed and sealed into the floors, and a quick glance around reveals a selection of vintage fashions, midcentury Danish and modern furniture, and an array of artwork includes paintings and pottery. “Because everyone has a different voice, we wanted to give people a place to explore their own tastes,” owner Alex de Laxalt explains. An element of art is present in all that’s for sale, as well as the way in which it’s displayed—like the Gary Graham cappuccino-colored short-sleeved draped-neck dress ($250) that hangs in the front window above a sea of gathered leaves. Curious objects are a big draw, like the green, peculiarly shaped 1970s chimney ($900) and the dark-brown glass cabinet ($750) topped with mixed patterns of ceramicware ($12–$250 per piece).