We launched the Love New York Awards to find out more about the local businesses that make your part of the city awesome. The nominations came so thick and fast they were almost overwhelming, with everything from expensive boutiques to tiny pop-ups nominated for a shot at glory.
Now, after an intense voting period in which more than 10,000 of you had your all-important say, it’s our great pleasure to reveal the independent stores you guys love above all others. There were a few close calls (and a few freakin’ landslides), but through it all one thing was absolutely clear: New Yorkers are truly passionate about their neighborhoods.
All of which just leaves us to say congratulations to all of this year’s winners and runners-up, and happy shopping to everyone who voted. Now get out there and show your local businesses some love.
Top local stores
One of H&M’s spin-offs makes its U.S. debut with this Soho outpost. Originally, & Other Stories started as a beauty concept but quickly evolved into a fashion brand offering accessories and Euro-flavored ready-to-wear women’s clothes. While the prices here aren’t as low as what you’d find at H&M, they’re not too steep, either. And items like a coral handbag ($195), a wool striped skirt ($90) and gold knuckle rings ($45) definitely have the added bonus of looking more expensive than they are.
At its original location in the East Village, Amé Amé was a candy store that sold rain gear. But since relocating to a bigger space on the outskirts of Murray Hill, the eclectic gift shop now offers Rudsak leather jackets, silky lingerie by Frances Smiley ($65) and a “man cave” stocked with stylish ties ($89) and Nau trench coats ($280). But don’t worryÑthere’s still a giant wall of candy-filled jars, as well as a beautiful display of European- and Canadian-made rain boots. FYI: AmŽoffers a special (10 percent off your purchase) when you stop in the shop on a rainy day.
In 2003, Artists & Fleas first opened in Williamsburg, and now owner Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer opened a new outpost in Manhattan's Chelsea Market. Just like the original location, this version of Artists & Fleas features goods from more than thirty independent designers including Ava Love, Insider1, Nanako, American Apothecary and more.
Carrie Peterson’s buy/sell/trade store has become a household name in the city since establishing outposts in Park Slope and Greenwich Village, but the original Williamsburg store wass still a prime spot to scope preworn treasures. It has since moved to Greenpoint because the store's landlord didn't renew its lease. "The neighborhood has grown at astronomical rates," Peterson says. Luckily the rent rates are friendlier—for now—in Greenpoint, which is nice considering this new outpost is only six-and-a-half blocks away from its old spot. Expect the same vibe and budget-friendly prices on vintage goods that Beacon's is known for. Sifting through the many racks of gently used clothing for true finds can require a heck of a lot of patience, but the effort is well worth it for fashionistas on a budget. On a recent visit, we spotted a pair of Manolo Blahnik peep-toe pumps ($22) and a Patrizia Pepe china silk tunic ($50); dudes’ duds included a Club Monaco denim jacket ($17) and Sperry Top-Siders ($19). Looking to sell your own cast-offs? Clean, gently-used duds are inspected on the spot for their resale value (which is determined by seasons or what the store needs stocked). You’ll receive either a percentage of the resale value in cash (35 percent) or store credit (55 percent) to put toward your next purchase.
This community bookstore goes above and beyond to make itself a destination for reading and playing alike. In addition to its inviting children's room, packed with puzzles, art supplies and toys, the UWS store attracts mini literati in droves with its weekend storytelling sessions, often featuring guest appearances by kid-lit authors. Its other branch, on 112th Street, carries a small selection of children's books too, but isn't a kid mecca like this one is.
Located just a few blocks from Atlantic Avenue, BookCourt is a long-standing independent seller with a great selection and lots of space to browse. The store carries all kinds of books (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children's books) and literary periodicals, and spotlights new work by local authors. BookCourt's impressive reading series includes a stellar list of children's book authors.
Astoria isn’t exactly known for its selection of clothing boutiques, but Nicole Panettieri is hoping to change that with her new shop, Brass Owl. This Ditmars boutique has a vintage vibe (thanks to its owlcentric decor), but the merch—primarily shoes and accessories—is all new. In addition to boots and shoes from Steve Madden, Dolce Vita and Chinese Laundry ($40–$250), you can shop jewelry from local designers ($10–$150), as well as candles and body-care items. Bonus for locals: Panettieri plans to host monthly events (like a ladies’ night and trunk shows).
Parsons grad Kristy Hadeka and graphic designer Sean Tice started selling their countertop slate creations at the Brooklyn Flea (brooklynflea.com) in 2009, and the brand has since been sold in more than 1,000 stores across the U.S. This 850-square-foot showroom and shop is Brooklyn Slate Company’s first permanent location, and features reclaimed-glass shelving and custom-built furniture. The namesake metamorphic rock is sourced from Hadeka’s third-generation family quarry in upstate New York and then ground, sanded and shaped by her brother and father. You’ll find the entire collection, including coasters (four for $22), place mats (two for $39, four for $70) and signature cheese boards ($26–$44) that come with a soapstone pencil so you can distinguish your Brie from your blue. Also nab grub, such as jars of Sqirl jam ($14) and Castleton crackers ($7). Add a wooden knife ($12) carved from maple in Vermont and a jar of Bee Raw honey ($9) to complete your spread.
Established in 1838, Bigelow is the oldest apothecary in America. Its simply packaged, appealingly old-school line of toiletries includes such tried-and-true favorites as Mentha Lip Shine, Barber Cologne Elixir Red No. 1584 and Lemon Body Cream. The spacious, chandelier-lit store is packed with natural remedies, organic skin-care products and drug-store essentials—and they still fill prescriptions.
Rony Vardi opened her teeny accessories boutique in 2006 as a companion to the larger, clothing-focused outpost of Catbird on Metropolitan Avenue. Though that store closed in 2009, the girly, white-walled Bedford branch is still going strong, offering a carefully curated selection of jewelry, accessories, home goods and more. “I consider it my life’s work,” explains Vardi of her quest to find pieces by new or little-known—but amazing—designers. In addition to sourcing items by Kings County jewelry artisans like Bittersweets NY and Flotsam & Jetsam, Vardi also designs a house line featuring delicate rings and pendants fashioned after letters of the alphabet, seahorses or the great state of New Jersey.