Long Island City may not be a retail mecca, but a smattering of interesting shops sell everything from indie streetwear to vintage curios. Here’s our guide to the best shops in the neighborhood. And while you’re in this part of Queens, check out the best shops in Astoria too.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Long Island City, Queens, New York
Hipsters and drag queens will be giddy over the selection at this 27-year-old thrift shop, which is run by sisters Ann Caporusso and Tishie Dooling (who inherited the space from their mother). Admire the window display, which is updated weekly with Caporusso’s newest finds, or browse the interior for grandpa-chic housewares, including a porcelain cookie jar ($40) and a set of novelty salt-and-pepper shakers ($8). Then venture to the back, where you’ll find an abundance of glittery, metallic vintage purses ($8–$60), fur coats (up to $200) and other flamboyant garb ($6–$20).
Frustrated by the sparse streetwear options in his neighborhood, Queens resident Mark Garcia brought his favorite local brands together in this cozy boutique, art gallery and design studio. Inspired by gritty NYC storefronts from the ’80s and ’90s that posed as dry cleaners but hosted illegal activities, Garcia decorated the space with vintage sewing machines and T-shirts hanging in plastic dry-cleaner bags (leading some potential customers to mistakenly drop by with their dirty duds!). But instead of peddling drugs or running a gambling front, he hawks street clothing, skating goods and limited-edition collectibles. Standouts include Lush Life tees featuring hip-hop photographer Ricky Powell’s prints ($30) and Whoami? T-shirts designed to color-coordinate with the latest sneaker releases ($25). Dark cabinets showcase vintage dead-stock snapback hats ($40–$60), brand-new Upper Playground fitted gingham-print caps ($45) and limited-edition consignment shoes, like Alife x Reebok low-top running sneakers ($70). A glass display case holds skateboard parts ($14–$56), street-photography books ($20) and JuiceBox vibrant stretchy wristbands with bold-typeface words like super rad and party time ($5). The walls are adorned with patterned skateboard decks, including DGK styles with candy-wrapper–inspired prints ($50). The quarterly rotating art gallery currently exhibits work from two Brooklyn artists: photographer Seana Cavanagh’s pictures of pregnant women ($300 each) and printmaker
Though retail may seem like an afterthought at this concept shop (which is both a gallery and a custom-framing/gift shop) there’s plenty of things to spend dough on. Owner Donna Drimer fills the space with contemporary art from local painters and photographers (for six-week exhibits), allowing her to show off the store’s vast selection of framing supplies. In addition to earthy, handmade goods (pottery, glassware, wooden boxes, soaps and our favorite, a wallet fashioned from recycled candy wrappers, $25–$38), you can snag quirkier items, such as Jishaku ($22), a board game involving magnetic stones.
A miscellany of glass bibelots, wooden toys and industrial-looking housewares round out this ethnic department store’s oddball offerings. A jaunt through its aisles feels like a visit to an old-world shop, via Czech board games ($25–$30) and retro calendars of Slovakian mountain ranges ($8). Electrical-outlet converters ($3) and vanilla-scented air fresheners patterned after Slovak currency ($3) make fun prevoyage mementos for anyone jonesing to visit Eastern Europe.
Antique aficionado Sung Park, who also owns nearby deli Paris Health (49-11 Vernon Boulevard between 49th and 50th Aves, Long Island City, Queens; no phone), accomplished a long-term dream of sharing his mid-19th-century cast-iron pieces with New York by opening this museum-shop. While everything found on the right side of the small space is for viewing only (penny banks, trivets, wood planes), the miscellanea on the left is for sale. Start your own collection by picking up a pocket-size checkers board ($10) or a cash register from the 1940s ($275).