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Community 54
Community 54

The best shops in the East Village

The best shops in the East Village echo the 'hood's bohemian reputation with these prime spots for vintage threads, books and art

Written by
Jennifer Picht
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The East Village has a growing number of great shops, which reflect the neighborhood’s young and hip demographic. Vintage shops and resale emporiums are the heavy hitters, but scour the streets and you'll find standout home decor stores, bookstores and sunglass emporiums that won't disappoint. Use our guide to discover the best shops in the nabe and you’ll be one step closer to finding the best fashion as well as one-offs that sell everything from lingerie to eco-conscious goods.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the East Village in NYC

The best shops in the East Village

Azaleas
  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • East Village

Catering to girls who just want to have fun (in the bedroom), owner Cindy Kahng handpicks all the frilly numbers that grace her store’s racks (before they grace those of her customers). The result is a collection of bathing suits, lingerie, loungewear, clothing and jewelry that strikes a balance between playful and sexy. Choose from brand name bras from Elle Macpherson to Stella McCartney, though be sure to sift through the bargain basket up-front for items at 50 to 70 percent off.

Fabulous Fanny's
  • Shopping
  • Opticians
  • East Village

Whether you’re searching for rhinestone-adorned 1960s cat-eye frames or Kanye West–style shutter shades, Fanny’s specializes in one-of-a-kind eyeglasses. Moderately priced in-house brand Spectaculars features everything from posh sunnies to cosmetic frames. It isn’t unusual to find four or more staffers (all willing to give you an honest opinion) crammed into this pint-size shop, which displays its specs on antique wooden dressers. Fanny’s also vends such vintage items as pillbox ladies' hats, and suspenders for lads looking to channel the 1940s (or maybe just Larry King).

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  • Shopping
  • East Village

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 paper-mache votive candle holders, canvas totes, and Moroccan poufs in gold and hot pink. The adjacent dry-goods shop features a slew of covetable linens, including delicately printed pillowcases and imported suzanis.

Metropolis
  • Shopping
  • Consignment store
  • East Village

European collectors and NYU kids raid this 13-year-old shop for colorful Izod sweaters, combat boots and letter jackets with wallet-friendly price tags. But what they might not know is that you can rent some of the pricier, hard-to-find vintage at a fraction of the retail cost. Owner Richard Colligan specializes in rare band tees from L.A. (New Order, the Clash, Lords of the New Church), and also carries a handsome selection of men’s footwear (Draper-era Florsheim wingtips).

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  • Shopping
  • East Village

No shop in New York understands the need to express yourself through a cold-weather protector than one of Manhattan's new vintage shops Spark Pretty. After the success of the store's '90's Forever pop-up, owners Amanda Dolan and Meagan Colbyput down permanent roots in the East Village. Spark Pretty describes its aesthetic as “I Want My MTV” meets '80’s hair bands, crossed with the flash of '70’s glam-rock. We can dig it. We're particularly loving the Lisa Frank denim jackets for sale, in addition to other rare vintage styles such as a crystal-encrusted, hand-painted Tony Alamo designer jean jacket. You'll also find other throwback apparel items including bellbottoms, studded skinny jeans, pins, patches and shoes.

  • Shopping
  • Thrift stores
  • East Village
  • price 2 of 4

Those who grew up watching Saved by the Bell and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air will find a cure for ’90s nostalgia at this East Village shop that specializes in men’s and women’s vintage clothing, footwear and assorted tchotchkes. Sort through racks of colorful vintage gear to find treasures including men’s starter jackets ($50–$200), Levi’s acid-wash jean jackets ($65), Gucci basic pumps ($180) and unisex Pendleton flannels ($50–$60). Nab vintage tees (two for $30) while glancing at clips of old movies playing on a small screen at the front of the store. Stop by on the first Thursday of every month for “Throwback Thursdays” and get 10 percent off everything in the store.

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  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • East Village
  • price 3 of 4

At this cozy East Village Chinese tea parlor, make a reservation for an intellectual and fully sensory guided tasting, then order a cup of your favorite a la carte before perusing the artisan and hand-painted tea ware.

  • Shopping
  • Gifts and stationery
  • East Village

After graduating from the Pratt Institute with a degree in fine art, Urte Tylaite wanted to shift toward retail. She developed the necessary skills working as a graphic designer and sales rep for the Brooklyn boutique Swallow, and used what she learned to open her own design store in the East Village. With products ranging from jewelry ($22–$1,100) and dishware ($5–$800) to art books ($30–$75) and artisan postcards ($5–$7), Tylaite has curated a diverse collection of gifts, home goods and personal accessories that visitors are encouraged to peruse.

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  • Shopping
  • Bookstores
  • East Village

Boasting 18 miles of books, the venerable Strand (which seems spiritually centered in the East Village, though it's technically a block or so west) has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. If you spend enough time, you can find just about anything here, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest sci-fi pulp.

  • Shopping
  • Menswear
  • East Village

This East Village shop sells woodsy-scented beard balm ($28) and “Get Lucky” tobacco-scented candles, which makes The Lodge a must-stop shop for dudes. This Americana spot—all the products are made in the U.S.—is all about quirky grooming products and handsome accessories. Highlights include Ebbets Field New York Baseball hats, Faribault Merino Wool Scarves and even bourbon-flavored toothpicks, because all men love whiskey, right?

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  • Shopping
  • Jewelry
  • East Village

Ukrainian model Vera Balyura turned her jewelry-making hobby into a full-time profession, and she can mark her success with the opening of her first-ever shop, in the East Village. Balyura’s unique recycled silver, brass, copper and 14-karat gold pieces serve as an ode to all creatures, both fictional (mermaids and vampires, for example) and those found in nature (such as deer and elephants). Her gothic-looking shop boasts blood-red wood floors and satin-white walls, from which lifelike hand sculptures protrude, displaying the gems.

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