Given its status as a hipster hub, it’s no surprise that Williamsburg is brimming with well-curated vintage stores, music stores and gift shops. Sure, the neighborhood has been flooded with chains like J.Crew and Urban Outfitters, but judging by the list of local indie stores and some of the best shops in NYC, it’s safe to say that the 'hood is still rad as hell. Whether you’re shopping on a small or large budget, this Brooklyn treasure trove is the place to go for one-of-a-kind shopping.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Book and gift stores
Tracie Howarth’s story is a Brooklyn-crafting fairy tale come true. After becoming a Top 20 Seller on Etsy and manning a sought-after booth at Williamsburg’s Artists & Fleas market, she opened this brick-and-mortar shop, where DIY types can choose from a plethora of gems displayed on a giant rustic wood table, including vintage brass lockets ($7) and Swarovski rhinestone charms ($3). Howarth also offers jewelry-making classes, like assemblage basics and wire wrapping.
Don’t expect to dig through long boxes full of dusty old comics. The stock here comprises new titles, back issues, graphic novels, children’s books, and signed prints from artists like Dash Shaw, Paul Pope and Lauren Weinstein. Remember to pick up a copy of Smoke Signal, the shop’s free newspaper, which highlights underground and emerging authors and artists.
Brothers Michael and Rick Mast operate this retail store, selling their entire line of specialty chocolates crafted directly from the bean in Brooklyn as well as confections and beverages (including the brand-new Chocolate beer). Bars include an 81 percent dark chocolate brightened with fleur de sel, while a rotating selection of new creations will be available at the flagship location only. And in case you're interested in how all the chocolatey-goodness is made, the shop offers walking tours, which are available daily.
We’ve all experienced that “Oh, shit, I forgot my best friend’s birthday” panic, so we’re especially grateful for this budget-friendly gift emporium. As the third installment to Grace Kang’s sea of stationery boutiques, this Williamsburg outpost primarily sells quaint items like New York art prints ($30), teakwood-and-tobacco-scented candles ($24), you are loved mugs ($18) and Freaking Awesome greeting cards ($8). The spot also hosts frequent events, like the upcoming Valentine’s Day jewelry trunk show, where you can get complimentary jewelry stamping by the designer from Brooklyn Rehab.
Married couple Kimberly and Enrique Sevilla have been helping urbanites spruce up their living spaces since 2008, offering indoor-friendly air plants that flourish without soil and hanging ferns encased in globes of moss from their bright blue shop. The focus here is on greenery, and plants such as temperate bonsai trees abound in the store’s neighboring outdoor space, where the Sevillas churn out floral arrangements daily. There’s also a smattering of small gifts.
Iconic London indie-music emporium Rough Trade has opened a Williamsburg outpost, destined to become a community staple thanks to its impeccable selection and snazzy series of in-store gigs.
Designer Erica Bradbury is relaunching her boutique (previously A Thousand Picnics), highlighting the jewelry ($12–$250) and handmade accessories ($30–$210) she creates with partner Michele Colomer. The shop takes on a darker aesthetic with peeling wallpaper, rugged wood paneling and white exposed brick.
Indie and vintage stores
This sprawling vintage emporium shills just about anything you’d want in your closet: ultrasoft ’80s logo tees, flannel shirts, Chucks in every color, deadstock denim, vests, ties and special-occasion dresses. Slip into the back room for rarer (and pricier) vintage, including va-va-voom lingerie, frilly 1940s–1960s prom dresses and handsome letterman jackets. Across the street, the recently opened Stella Dallas Living offers vintage fabrics and textiles, including curtains, blankets and 1980s bedsheets adorned with Star Wars and Peanuts characters.
When we heard that one of our favorite indie boutiques was opening a third location in Williamsburg to join its men’s and women’s Greenpoint shops, we could hardly contain our glee—no more waiting for the G train! With the arrival of this unisex locale, we now have easier access to our favorite brands including MinkPink, Kill City and Mary Meyer. In addition to such effortlessly cool styles at nice price points ($5–$300).
Vintage fanatics, start your engines: Fashion Institute of Technology graduate Lexi Oliveri has raided her stylish mother’s stash to curate a well-edited collection of pieces, tagged at surprisingly gentle prices. Garb like Coach leather flap bags ($35–$50), a cotton 1970s maxidress ($30) and Sassoon and Jordache high-waisted denim jeans ($25–$35) are offered on the racks. The space is outfitted with industrial pipes, French damask wallpaper, and a 1960s bamboo shelf stocked with assorted purses ($30–$65) and jewelry ($25–$85). Ladies who wear size 6 shoes will be happy to hear that Antoinette, the store’s namesake, wasn’t one to turn down a great pair of boots.
A rotating selection of around 30 vendors, including local craftspeople and artists, sets up shop in a warehouse every weekend. The browsable mix includes everything from original T-shirts and handmade jewelry to Lauren C. Pratt’s reconditioned vintage Boyfriendbags, decorated with song lyrics and poetry.
Finding the perfect pair of jeans can take hours, which is why we prefer to do all of our trying-on in one shop. This Williamsburg boutique carries men’s and women’s staples, including Hudson, James Jeans, Habitual and lesser-known American-made brands like Simon Miller and Kill City. BDC is also one of the few stores in the country to stock LVC, a line that replicates Levi’s jeans from the 1960s–80s ($250–$395). As an added bonus, an in-house tailor will hem your jeans pro bono.
Amid textured antique wallpaper and chandeliers is all a gal needs to look and feel, well, foxy—including garters, corsets and the store's own glow-inducing lavender shea butter ($15). Requisite silky, lacy things by Chantelle, Huit and Dirty Dolls hang alongside more outré options like Bebaroque Bows ($69) and Suki ($65).
Nylon messenger bags sporting the skyline label and zippered sweatshirt hoodies are just the tip of the iceberg at this New York-born chainlet. You'll find reasonably-priced items for the entire for the family, including Brooklyn-emblazoned onesies, casual pants for men and graphically printed dresses.
Rony Vardi's jewelry and accessories shop is a cult fave among Williamsburg shoppers. The boutique is filled with a well-edited selection of timeless and trendy pieces by contemporary designers such as Digy + Iona, Bittersweets NY and Polly Wales. In addition to the cool indie designers, the shop has sells items from its popular in-house brand.
This lifestyle shop in Williamsburg sells high-quality goods during the day, but will host occasional dance parties at night. The 1,300-square-foot boutique carries menswear, womenswear and home goods from emerging brands and well-known designers such as Samantha Pleet and more.
Designers Nicole Tondre and Lisa Fuller have been selling their local denim line ($97–$135) from a Nolita storefront since 2008. Now the duo has packed up and moved to a larger space that’s also home to their production studio. The 700-square-foot boutique carries comfortable and stylish jeans, such as high-waisted skinnies ($127), and pocket-front ($115) and pinstripe shorts ($97).
Home good stores
Find sleek styles, bold colors and cool graphics in Tony Wong’s contemporary housewares shop. Nothing here is clunky or unwieldy, and most of the items fit just right in small apartments. Look for that perfect pop of color in Abode’s many bowls, serving trays, linens, bedding and rugs from eco-friendly brands like Goldiehome, Paper Cloud and Teroforma.
Sleek sofas and haute household goods line the walls at this haven for hip urban apartment dwellers. The spacious shop is an offshoot of Billyburg design mecca The Future Perfect (founder David Alhadeff is the “A” in A&G’s name; the “G” is for co-founder Jill Goldhand), hence the überstylish pieces you’ll find—like small, modular items named after Brooklyn nabes, the brand’s plush Bedford lounges ($1,599) and trendy Red Hook dining sets (table $769, chair $219, bench $319).
This everything-cooking store is a two-level facility: The first floor shills essentials for every home chef, including bulk food ($2/lb for bulk flour), knives ($25–$300), and pots and pans (vintage Pyrex starts at $25), as well as coffeemakers and food processors. The second floor, meanwhile, is reserved for bakers (an entire wall is devoted to cookie cutters). The store also houses two teaching kitchens for classes and private parties, and an in-house butcher shop (the Meat Hook) ensures that shoppers browse to the scent of freshly made sausage. Browse and sign up for classes at the Brooklyn Kitchen
If Julia Child were alive, we suspect she’d coo with pleasure over this brightly lit, well-stocked kitchen store (and not just because they sell aprons with her friendly visage screenprinted on them). Both cooking novices and seasoned chefs will find an abundance of supplies to keep a kitchen running smoothly, including essential pieces like quality pots by Le Creuset and Calphalon; knives by J.A. Zwilling Henckels; and quirky items you didn’t even know you needed, like a salt shaker shaped like a dove.
If any store or brand summarizes 21st-century style, it's American Apparel: stark white walls, garish flourescent lighting, scarily underdressed workers, and oodles of neon basics (leggings, tights, tees, short shorts).
As the sister of J.Crew, it's clear that this boutique is not for prepsters. Housing a “denim bar” featuring jeans in various styles and washes, shop typical Madewell goods such as leather jackets, boots and bags. Also, check out exclusive products from local brands and artists like Thursday-born, NOVA and Freundeskreis for sale at this Williamsburg outpost.
Urban Outfitters opened Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, and Space Ninety 8 in Brooklyn is the latest outpot in the company's address-as-name brand extension. The multi-floor market features products you'd find at any Urban Outfitters (moderately-priced men's and women's clothing, jewelry, home-decor goods), plus an expanded record shop and a gallery space that features pop-up shops. The Market Space, located on the first floor, is home to handcrafted, one-of-a-kind pieces—many created in New York.