Best independent shops: Soho

  • BDDW

  • BDDW

  • Bicycle Habitat

  • Bicycle Habitat

  • Bio

  • Bio

  • Built By Wendy

  • Built By Wendy

  • Evolution

  • Evolution

  • I Heart

  • I Heart

  • Just Shades

  • Just Shades

  • Posteritati

  • Posteritati

  • Seven New York

  • Seven New York

BDDW

Bicycle Habitat
Charlie McCorkell’s Habitat is a cyclist’s wonderland in both word and deed. Boasting everything from specialized Pro Road Shoes and folding cycles to classic mountain bikes, this shop caters to wobbling beginners and speed demons alike. When cycles were banned on Park, Fifth and Madison Avenues from 34th to 59th, Habitat helped raise the money to legally battle the ruling and rabble-roused a hoard of bike-messengers to strike until bipedals could careen happily once again. 244 Lafayette St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-625-1347, bicyclehabitat.com)

Bio Emerging Designers
If shopping for work clothes is breaking your spirit and your bank account, check out Nolita’s Bio Emerging Designers, for darling duds that’ll keep you looking professionally hip in your cubicle or your corner office. This industrial-style boutique offers more than 25 up-and-coming lines from around the world, including a Sweet Heart Romper from Twinkle by Wenlan, 12th Street’s cream cardigans and some sinfully sexy ankle boots by L.A.M.B. 29 Prince St between Elizabeth and Mott Sts (212-334-3006, bio-nyc.com)

Chelsea Girl Couture
Unlike its sister store, Laurel Canyon, which celebrates ’70s bohemia, Chelsea Girl carries only high-end vintage, including YSL, Diane Von Furstenberg and the wild pastels of Pucci. For the pending collegiate or whimsical weekender, it’s stocked up on prom dresses from the ’50s (slip on wasp-waisted silks and organzas by Ceil Chapman) and the ’80s (do the rock-glam thing with Victor Costa’s edgy ruffles). 186 Spring St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts (212-343-7090)

Elan
Founder Jeff Greenberg collects antiques from every corner of the country. He peddles his vintage pieces—mainly 1950s and ’60s Americana—to those on the prowl for serious abode essentials. Cover your walls (paintings start at $300), display your knickknacks (a Noguchi coffee table goes for $2,500) or organize paperwork chaos with Paul McCobb’s white lacquered desk ($3,500). 345 Lafayette St between Bleecker and Bond Sts (212-529-2724)

Evolution
Whether science makes you squirm or smile, check out this anomaly-filled specialty store, featuring decidedly creepy—but definitely cool—collectibles, like animal-skull replicas, beetle bracelets and scorpion-centered lollipops. If you’re in search of a spectacle on a drizzly day or shopping for an eccentric uncle, Evolution has you covered. With goose bumps. 120 Spring St between Greene and Mercer Sts (212-343-1114)

Global Table
Brimming with vases, plates, candles and glassware, this home-goods-laden shop carries any and every exotic accessory for setting a comely feast. Peruse merchandise from far-flung spots like the Philippines (light bone-china votives for $12--$22), Japan (ceramic and bamboo tea sets in AquaGlaze) and India (ginko-leaf-shaped spoons). 107-09 Sullivan St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-431-5839, globaltable.com)

I Heart
You’ll be pining (hard) for the utterly unique treasure trove in I Heart’s well-stocked basement boutique soon enough. Try on Samantha Pleet’s Kaleidescope romper or Nomia’s little (industrial) black dress for your next house party. Plus, they’ve got kick-ass art and bumping music for your shopping pleasure. 262 Mott St between Houston and Prince Sts (212-219-9265, iheartnyc.com)

Just Shades
This Nolita shop packs more than 300 varieties of lamp shades ($15--$325), providing just the right illumination for every occasion, from sultry dinners (a soft glow, please) to modern steel kitchens (bright and stark). If you’ve got a creative streak, you can customize your shade with trim, beads and tassels, or even design your own. 21 Spring St between Elizabeth and Mott Sts (212-966-2757, justshadesny.com)

Key
Owners Mary Gasser (a professional stylist) and Eve Gelade (a former public-relations maven) make shopping a restorative experience at this cozy boutique, complete with an outdoor patio. Browse through closet staples such as cashmere cardigans, tees and tanks, and denim favorites by J Brand, Tag and Anlo. 41 Grand St between Thompson St and West Broadway (shopkeynyc.com)

Purl
If reading on the subway makes you nauseous and Sudoku leaves you cold, think about stopping into Purl for a knitting lesson and a new subterranean pastime. Already dabble in knit-one-purl-three? Scoop up new yarns in a rainbow of colors, in all-natural fibers like silk, bamboo, alpaca and cashmere. Check out sister store Purl Patchwork down at the street for sewing lessons, bolts of fantastic fabric and quilting know-how. 137 Sullivan St between W Houston and Prince St (212-420-8796, purlsoho.com)

Seven New York
Anyone who’s already drank the label-cult Kool-Aid knows about Seven. For those who haven’t yet, here’s their chance. Check out this basement boutique to find the sleek and simple pieces of Raf Simons, some schlumpy-chic attire by Damir Doma or the utterly fantasia-esque pieces by Jeremy Scott. 110 Mercer St between Prince and Spring Sts (646-654-0156)

BDDW
When you need to refeather your nest with modern wooden dressers or sweet-dream-inducing bed frames, BDDW is the place to go. Each piece is handwrought and hand-rubbed in a Philadelphia studio, with finishes in natural oils and lacquers. This is the rare furniture your pending progeny will be happy to inherit. 5 Crosby St between Grand and Howard Sts (212-625-1215, bddw.com)

Posteritati
If nothing makes you happier than the silver screen and a fistful of buttery kernels, keep the joy alive with Posteritati—your one-stop snooping spot for movie posters. This spacious gallery has 9,000 different wall-art designs as well as books on the history of graphic design and movie posters. 239 Centre St between Broome and Grand Sts (212-226-2207, posteritati.com)

Property
Touting their wares as “sophisticated pop,” founders Sabrina Schilcher and Stefan Beckman serve up stylish home-everything, from wicker stools and velvet sofas to aluminum suspension lamps and bleached oak tables. Also on hand is orblike glassware and outdoor furnishings like a rubberized club chair. 14 Wooster St between Grand and Canal Sts (917-237-0123, propertyfurniture.com)

Built by Wendy
Wendy Mullin learned how to sew back in Kansas, from her mother and grandmother, later hawking her first designs in the back of record stores where she worked. Now her playful twists on casual classics are equally fantastic and popular. Try her frilly salmon sundress or navy short-shorts to show off girlish gams. 7 Centre Market Place between Broome and Grand Sts (212-925-6538, builtbywendy.com)


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Shopping guide '09
Best independent shops Forget chain stores. It's the little guys we're loving right now.