Best late-night fossil retailer (2008)

House of Cards & Curiosities

You're already running late for your friend's birthday party downtown when you realize you've forgotten to get a gift. Sure, you could stop at any of a dozen tiny, interchangeable stores in the West Village and buy the requisite whimsical birthday card with the throwaway pop-culture reference and the inevitable, overpriced kitschy-ironic tchotchke. Or you could get an original Victorian card and vintage tin toy from House of Cards & Curiosities, the gift shop that boasts, "Never a Hallmark here!" For that very special friend—that very morbid special friend—you can get a creepy phrenology head, a mounted insect the size of a lobster, or a hand-carved Day of the Dead tableau (one we fell in love with on a recent visit: a skeleton shower scene—like Carrie, only creepier). Open till 10, so you can take your time browsing through the basketful of 400 million-year-old trilobite fossils one by one.

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