While the merchandise (a mix of high-end and diffusion designer clothes, accessories and big-brand cosmetics) and prices are comparable to those of other upscale stores, the goods at Bendel’s somehow seem more desirable in this opulent atmosphere, and those darling brown-striped shopping bags don’t hurt either.
This MTA gift shop is loaded with funky subway-themed gifts, including mini trains, number 6 line T-shirts and stuffed bears printed with New York City maps. There's also a nice collection of children's books about our city's favorite mode of transportation—the subway.
Much chicer than the average museum gift shop, this boutique tucked inside Scandinavia House is an unexpected place for sourcing the perfect present. A mecca of home design, jewelry, beauty loot, clothing and shoes from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the store is divided into two sections: At the front, look for giftable items like Design House Stockholm tea mugs ($25), Bjork & Berries all-natural face and body products ($16–$48), and Skyline Series die-cut greeting cards ($5). Past a café in the back you’ll find a large selection of jewelry and accessories, including women’s silver Skagen watches ($125–$275), Sami handmade leather, pewter and silver bracelets ($150–$225) and Tretorn sneakers and rain boots ($55–$90). We especially love of-the-moment Dala wooden clogs ($95–$135) and colorful, graphic-print Marimekko pillows ($100–$115).
The security to get into this global boutique may be stricter than that to board an international flight, but once you’re safely ensconced you’ll have access to a wealth of products, all organized by country. Each display houses its nation’s claim to fame, like Victorian-style garnet jewelry ($40–$400) from the Czech Republic, Technicolor hand-blown glass vases ($33) from Poland and flamenco dancer figurines ($104) from Spain. Brand names have no significance to Hanaa Shoukry, the enthusiastic director of purchasing and merchandise, who hand-selects each item based on history, tradition and culture.
More shops for gifts
Many an author touches down at Barnes & Noble's citywide branches, which are fairly uniform in their size and wide selection of new books. In addition to author readings, the behemoth book chain hosts panel discussions and actor readings spotlighting new and lesser-known works.
Although it’s now owned by Toys "R" Us, this three-story emporium is still the ultimate NYC toy box. Children will marvel at the giant stuffed animals and LEGO figures, and there are lots of opportunities to create custom playthings at the Madame Alexander Doll Factory, Styled by Me Barbie area (complete with a revolving dolls’ catwalk) and Muppet Whatnot Workshop.
You may be sick of looking at wrapping materials from the postholiday cleanup, but make sure to scope out the vibrant colored supplies from this paper brand.Inside the no-frills space are metal shelves and wall hooks loaded with plenty of colorful options, including metallic bubble mailers ($2–$4), floral and polka-dot-printed wrapping paper ($4), multihued circular paper clips ($6) and luxe satin ribbon ($4–$35). While you’re there, grab a set of recycled-paper cards (eight for $8) for Christmas thank-you notes.
It comes as no surprise that with a name like H20, the brand’s flagship is decorated entirely in aqua and white. Beauty enthusiasts flock here for reasonably priced sea-derived skin- and body-care products, including Face Oasis ($34), an oil-free hydrating moisturizer. Shower gel costs $9; lotions in punchy scents like Tango Mango and Raspberry Guava will set you back $12.
In the middle of a block lined with bagel shops and delis, the year-old second location (the first is in Chelsea) of this French-themed boutique stands out as a gem, offering costume jewelry that looks way more expensive than it actually is. The Parisian expat owners buy mostly from small-scale, local designers who create unique and budget-friendly baubles that are brightly displayed on clean white shelves. Unlike the West Side locale, this boutique is accessories-only, but it’s chock-full of everything from dainty initial necklaces ($26) to nature-inspired leaf earrings ($38) and brightly colored beaded bangles ($26). It also carries high-fashion coffee-table books, including three-book sets detailing the history of Chanel ($75) and Conde Nast Traveler’s Room with a View ($65), based on the travel magazine’s namesake column about jaw-dropping hotel vistas.
f you’ve ever wanted your abode to look like the set of The Addams Family, you’ll adore the gothic-inspired housewares sold at this permanent shop inside home-decor boutique Maison 24. The dark-hued, Old English-style spot is accented by a glass chandelier and highlights Dobner’s ink drawings ($325–$1,100). The British artist’s goods include decorative pillows screen-printed with skulls ($160) and fabric-covered journals ($38). More opulent pieces include scented candles ($110) and fish-print plates ($65–$120)-both trimmed in 22-karat gold.
Sam Flax’s massive flagship—a 9,000-square-foot bi-level creative paradise—sells oodles of art supplies, stationery, gifts, picture frames, desk accessories and even furniture. Indulge your creative whims with colored-pencil sets ($6–$100), scrapbooking stickers ($2 and up), and funky photo albums and frames for $10 or less.
Luke Ives Pontifell started his printing-press company in 1985, and since then he’s been creating luxurious stationery, invitations and handmade, limited-edition books an hour north of the city in Newburgh, NY. Now, he’s finally bringing his line to the Big Apple—more specifically, to the elegant St. Regis New York, which is a proper fit for his fancy paper goods. The dapper-looking library-cum-boutique is located on the first floor of the hotel and will offer customizable products, such as wedding invitations, business cards and personal stationery. You’ll also find vintage treasures, including extremely pricey 18th-century spigots ($3,400), perfect for Brooklyn brownstone libraries. Shoppers are encouraged to enjoy a cup of tea, espresso or whiskey while reading Thornwillow’s free “Libretto,” a charming series of minibooks containing poetry, recipes and essays. Or spend some dough on engraved blank cards with images of flying pigs, seashells, butterflies or peacock feathers (24 for $95), 2011-ready desk-calendar sets complete with twelve engraved and edge-stained cards and golden brass easels ($95), and leather-bound journals with golden edges ($385).