Top ten online-only gift shops

Skip the crowds and surf the Web for a unique present.

Artma Studio multicolor clock, $49, at

1. Etsy (
Don't dismiss this marketplace, based in Dumbo, Brooklyn, as purely a purveyor of kitsch: While you will find Creepy Glowbugg Concoctions clay magnets shaped like brains (three for $4) and SweaterNana crocheted animal hats for adults ($21), there are also chic gifts, such as Xmittens recycled-fleece fingerless gloves ($32) and TheArtofChic vintage mirrors ($48). Rob Kalin (a painter, carpenter and photographer) created the site in 2005 with his NYU classmates Chris Maguire and Haim Schoppik. If you're overwhelmed by the 11 million items currently listed on the site, try browsing Etsy's recently launched shopping hubs, organized by theme (including Fashion, Home and Garden, Holiday). You can also sign up for free weekly themed shopping newsletters, such as Etsy Gifts, Etsy Finds and Etsy Dudes. That way, you won't miss hilarious Welcome to Color Lego cufflinks ($10) and hip MontanaTreasuresbyMJ beaded fringe necklaces ($50--$60).

2. Supermarket (
Like Etsy, this site is a platform for up-and-coming designers from all over the world, but that's where the resemblances end. Ryan Deussing and Randy J. Hunt started this e-commerce site in 2007 with a curated collection of design stars. Just because you have a glue gun handy doesn't mean you can sell on Supermarket, though: The founders review every single product pitched by designers. Our picks include Rogue Empire wallets made from recycled neckties ($58), May28th floral-faced plastic watches ($39) and Re-Surface Design's colorful pendant lights ($400).

3. The Spoon Sisters (
Sisters Jill and Bonnie Spoon specialize in quirky yet practical items you didn't know you needed, like Kiho shredding scissors ($20), Tapi cups that make drinking tap water more hygienic (two for $10) and Potting Shed Creations organic basil that grows in a little bamboo pot ($20). The Spoons started this online gift shop about ten years ago, hoping to stand out with their product mix. They've succeeded largely in part to a discernible eye; they hit trade shows, peruse industry mags, and talk to designers and consumers about unique upcoming offerings. We especially love that the Spoon Sisters offer free pickup from their Chelsea warehouse (153 W 27th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, suite 802; 212-691-8200)—that means no shipping fees.

4. Broodr (
Jason Blanck wanted to open up a space where sellers and buyers could converse and interact with each other, so he created Broodr's message system, which makes it easier to commission items or request that they be custom-tailored. He started this online bazaar in July and it's growing daily, currently offering about 1,000 unique products from sellers and artists all over the country. We're fans of Black Gizmo's rustic wood housewares, such as wooden iPhone holders ($11), table lamps ($116) and wall clocks ($69). There's also a large selection of geek-chic tech goods, like the Wand Company magic-wand TV remotes ($79) and 8-Bit Memory NES controller USB drives ($40). And don't miss the humorous apparel offerings, such as 5 O'Clock Shadow knitted beards ($25) and SceeneShoes sneakers hand-painted with '90s video-game images ($50--$55).

5. Fred Flare (
We still miss Fred Flare's Greenpoint brick-and-mortar store, which closed earlier this year, but founders (and newlyweds!) Chris Bick and Keith Carollo keep us happy with a major online presence, as well as an annual holiday pop-up shop inside Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave at 16th St, Dec 15--23). The duo sources products from indie vendors all over the country, and from more beloved brands, such as Betsey Johnson, Dolce Vita and Volcom. Since 1998, the retailer has been a go-to resource for stylish threads such as BB Dakota faux-fur vests ($66) and Tulle floral frocks ($58), along with kitschy home goods, including ice-cream-cone-shaped lamps ($50) and vegan-friendly inflatable turkeys ($14). The site also collects some stellar holiday offerings; check out Andy Warhol holiday card sets ($14), faux Christmas trees that grow in water ($10) and wine-cork menorahs ($18).

6. Perpetual Kid (
Personal touches are key for this online retailer, which caters to kids of all ages. Wendy Papula and Curt Eastman created the site in 2004; they hawk whimsical items such as lifelike Mollycoddle finger-shaped soap ($5) and Fred & Friends salt and pepper shakers ($10) that resemble magic wands. The duo insist on approving everything in their Virginia warehouse before it gets merchandised, including items like a Kikkerland log-shaped pillow ($16), a Smart Planet mini-doughnut maker ($25) and a Kikkerland hydropowered calculator ($11). We're fans of the site's cheeky personality: You'll receive an "escaped" plastic finger monster in every package. Customers can also have an artist draw pictures of their choosing on package boxes (cupcakes, dinosaurs and zombies are popular).

7. UncommonGoods (
More than half of the items listed on this Brooklyn site, started by Dave Bolotsky in 1999, are handmade or created from recycled materials, such as Green 3 reused-cotton scarves ($28) and Jeff Davis recycled-record bookends ($40). Goods are divided into playful categories: Finds in the Business Women section include UncommonGoods herbal slippers ($32) and Malcolm and Mary Ann Owen metal business-card holders ($45). Grandmother gifts, like Organic Farming organic cotton pillows ($56) and DIY scarf kits ($40), are popular, as are the Music Lover offerings, such as Traci Medeiros-Bagan crocheted headphones ($35) and Hannah Garrison and Steve Bernstein guitar-string bracelets ($10). You can also shop by occasion: Check out Jorge Diego Etienne revolver penholders ($90) for graduates and Anna Rabinowicz agate coasters (four for $64) for a housewarming present. Don't miss all the NYC-centric finds; we adore Cynthia Gale skyline and Brooklyn Bridge earrings ($58 each), and UncommonGoods hand-embroidered pillows featuring city images ($149). The generosity continues during the checkout process: $1 from every purchase goes to nonprofits such as AmeriCares (, American Forests (, City Harvest ( and RAINN (

8. GreenerGrassDesign (
If you're in the market for an eco-friendly, design-conscious gift, hit up this site based out of Houston. In 2005, Karen Justice and Alberto Bonomi (with fine art and architecture degrees between them) set out to launch a site that would use their skills and offer a manageable selection of gifts so as not to overwhelm their customers. Wares include Roost Porcelain fruit baskets ($16), Glo Boy solar-powered night-lights ($35) and Siwa water-resistant eyeglass cases ($28). Other standouts: flexible Nooka belts ($50), Unison graphic-printed organic cotton blankets ($72) and Suck UK umbrellas that change color in the rain ($40). Sign up to receive e-mails featuring special shipping offers and secret sales.

9. Apartment 48 (
Founder and interior designer Rayman Boozer believes that decorating your pad should be both enjoyable and affordable. He made good on his mission in 1994 when he opened a shop in the Flatiron District; when it shuttered this past April, Boozer expanded his online store. The e-tailer provides apartment essentials sourced from brands from Mexico, Belgium and France, among other countries, each with a twist: We like the colorful biodegradable cotton napkins (12 for $38), bamboo cheese-board sets ($38) and ceramic pitchers ($68). Since Boozer refreshes the entire site every two months, the stock always stays current. Hit up Boozer's blog ( for decorating tips.

10. Artful Home (
It isn't easy to sell your wares in this online shop, thanks to an advisory panel headed by former Smithsonian curator Michael Monroe. The team judges each item that goes into Artful Home's inventory, and looks for inventiveness, imagination and ingenuity. Items that fulfill the criteria include Nicholas Kekic blown-glass opaque bowls ($350), Tom Stoenner colored glass tumblers (two for $55) and Emi Ozawa flower-shaped wall clocks ($46). Home goods are not all that's for sale: Jutta Neumann leather clutches ($225), Yuh Okano colorful scarves ($60) and Lisa Crowder men's sterling silver rings ($95--$125) are standouts among the accessory offerings.

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