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The best shops in Williamsburg

From cool vintage threads to cutting-edge gifts, the shopping scene in Williamsburg is totally hip

The Kinfolk Store
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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

Shopping, Jewelry

Brooklyn Charm

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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.

Shopping, Bookstores

Desert Island

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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.

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Mast Brothers Chocolate
Shopping, Chocolate and candy

Mast Brothers Chocolate

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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. 

Shopping, Gifts and stationery

Pink Olive

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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.

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Shopping, Flower shops

Rose Red & Lavender

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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.

Rough Trade record store in NYC
Photograph: Jennifer Arnow
Shopping

Rough Trade NYC

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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.

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Shopping, Jewelry

Species by the Thousands

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

Shopping

Honey

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Williamsburg was shockingly devoid of classy sex shops before Honey opened in the summer of 2009; owner Cindy Yip helped her sister run the Vancouver-based store for nearly a decade before opening her own. “The concept is the same,” she says. “[We offer] lingerie and toys in a safe environment; it’s comfortable and fun.” Peruse the wall of sex toys at the back of the store, which includes both inexpensive and luxury options (we’re fond of Jimmyjane’s sleek Little Chroma vibrator, $125); if that’s too porno-crazy for your Puritan blood, you can stock up on love notes from the small selection of letterpress cards, like one that says “XXXOOO” by May Day Studio near the front of the shop.

Shopping, Womenswear

In God We Trust

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Step onto the wildly colorful floors, take a seat on a plush red couch, and peruse men’s and women’s clothes endearingly displayed in large old suitcases, wooden crates and a hanging rack crafted out of a boat paddle. You’ll fall for cheeky accessories, including gold heart-shaped pendants engraved with blunt sayings like "Talk to the hand" ($40), rifle-shaped tie bars ($50) and the store’s best deal: a wide selection of retro sunglasses, none a cent more than $15.

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Shopping, Design and interiors

Joinery

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After starting her lifestyle, culture and fashion blog, How to Change a Flat (howtochangeaflat.com), in March 2009, Angela Silva became passionate about making new discoveries and cataloging her unique ideas and interests. With encouragement from her boyfriend, Emil Corsilo, who owns men’s store Hickoree’s Hard Goods, Silva decided to open a shop to house all of her favorite objects. A brass chandelier hangs from the torched-pine ceiling and matches the brass-and-black-piped garment racks throughout the space. The stock is an eclectic mix of home goods, women’s clothing and accessories from both international labels and New York designers.

Shopping

Jumelle

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In 2006, Candice Waldron left her job as a producer at PBS to open her Bedford Avenue shop: She treats the simple brick-walled store like her own dream closet, filling it with elegant threads from local and international designers. You’ll have to fork over big bucks for statement indie pieces like A.P.C. striped knit shirts ($165), Bruce knit sweater tanks ($325) and Raquel Allegra slouchy button-front dresses ($360), but it’s unlikely you’ll see anyone else in Brooklyn rocking your look.

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Shopping, Boutiques

The Kinfolk Store

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At the very front of Kinfolk’s event space lies the brand’s recently opened menswear boutique, stocking labels such as Bleu de Paname, Lewis Leathers and the company’s very own line. Fellas, scoop up items like Smoking Hot tees ($40), Parker dip-dyed cardigans ($210) and Brooklyn-made Utica corduroy hats ($50). And after peering through the racks inside this rugged yet refined shop, enter the geodesic domelike bar space (in back), which offers daily cocktail service.

Shopping, Boutiques

Milly & Earl

After running her locally sourced accessories and gift shop Honey & Hazel for two years, owner Melissa Gorski had to shut her doors in February 2012 when her family moved to California. Luckily, Gorski found a new owner in friend and former Playboy colleague Bernadette Libonate, who renamed the store and changed up the merchandise. Where Honey & Hazel was girly and craft-inspired, Milly & Earl is more clean and modern, with natural-colored walls and vintage furniture. Inside you’ll find a bounty of well-priced ladies’ accessories, and for the boys, there are vintage cufflinks and Izola stainless-steel flasks. Libonate also stocks plenty of Brooklyn-made home and gift items.

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Shopping, Boutiques

Myths of Creation

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Bartender Xenia Viray aimed to open a store that boasted similar styles you’d find on the racks at Anthropologie—but for a fraction of the price. Succulents planted in vintage beer cans and distressed mirrors lend a homey vibe to this off-kilter joint, where you can score items like sweaters and skirts by English Factory, high-waist jeans and handmade jewelry by Pigeon Dynamite. And Viray’s signature aesthetic—think collectible shopping bags inspired by vintage airline messengers and a kitschy “bunnies eating pizza” greeting card collection by Jessamy Dipper—only adds to this shop’s indie charm.

Shopping, Sex shops

Shag Brooklyn

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Samantha Bard and Ashley Montgomery-Pulido’s shop boasts a top-rate selection of toys, including wood and marble dildos, plus hats, jewelry, home goods, fine art and even vagina doorknobs, cast from real vajayjays. (Coming soon: cock knockers!)

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Shopping, Shoes

Shoe Market

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Your poor, unstylish dogs will thank you for stopping by this shoe boutique, which opened in 2007 as an offshoot of Mini Mini Market in the Williamsburg Mini Mall. Though the shop itself is small, you can ogle more than 50 footwear brands for dames and dudes. Women can shop an array of styles like Jeffrey Campbell block-heeled boots ($168) or dressier finds like Vagabond booties adorned with chains ($180), while guys can browse the vibrant outpost for stitched Cole Haan chukkas ($228) and Bed Stu lace-ups ($115).

Shopping, Boutiques

SlapBack

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After working as a film stylist and corporate fashion buyer for the last 15 years, Renee DiDio has opened her own space dedicated to vintage-reproduction women’s clothing ($32–$180) and accessories ($12–$58) from brands such as Sailor Jerry, Rocksteady and Dirty Dolls. The pink-and-black space is outfitted with leopard-print accents, and old movie posters and photographs. Try on Bettie Page pencil dresses ($128) and Switchblade Stiletto high-waisted skirts ($58). Add-ons include Kitsch ’n’ Kouture razor-blade–shaped necklaces ($24) and Classic Hardware sparrow brooches ($28).

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Home good stores

Shopping, Design and interiors

Abode New York

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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.

Shopping, Design and interiors

A&G Merch

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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).

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Things to do, Classes and workshops

The Brooklyn Kitchen

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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

Shopping, Kitchen and bath

Whisk

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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.

Chain stores

Shopping, Womenswear

American Apparel

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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).

Shopping, Womenswear

Madewell

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.

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Space Ninety 8
Photograph: Driely S.
Shopping, Boutiques

Space Ninety 8

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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.

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