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  • Best Place To Buy Multi- Colored Vinyl

    INDUSTRIAL PLASTICS - CLOSED

    Upon entering INDUSTRIAL PLASTICS, one first encounters inexplicable bins of bite-sized synthetic cylinders and amorphous industrial extras just begging for a small child's art project. But one is quickly drawn to the nearby plastic fruit display, which rivals the selection (and waxiness) of the produce at most New York grocery stores. The huge translucent boards of neon plastic, gold-plated domes,… More >>
  • Best Shop for Things Made of Trees

    IN THE WOODS

    At the wonderfully out-of-place store for rustic wooden crafts called IN THE WOODS, smack in the middle of St. Marks Place—the door a bit concealed below street level—you can find all kinds of hand-carved, bark-trimmed items you thought were only available in such quantity at Renaissance festivals. Beautiful bird's-eye-maple cutting boards make unique wedding gifts, while inexpensive knickknacks like animal-shaped… More >>
  • Best Cheap Chairs

    CHAIRS, STOOLS, ETC.

    For more than 30 years, CHAIRS, STOOLS, ETC. has been offering heaps of classy wooden chairs with patterned cushions, minimalist Bauhaus-type chairs, slender curving metallic ones, etc.—to those in the restaurant or catering business. The catch, see, is that you have to buy them in sets of at least two, if not 12 or more. The outlet is located in… More >>
  • Best Expensive Bags

    VERVE

    Not only is the selection fabulous, ranging from special-occasion justifiable to rare-treat affordable to expensive but practical and so good therefore worth it, the service is a bubbly and curious experience. The store space is small, so don't go when you're not in the mood for chitchat. They know their customers, however. And whether it's a canvas shopping bag, a… More >>
  • Best Free Samples

    GARDEN OF EDEN

    Forgetting your lunch money doesn't inspire the panic it used to as long as the upscale GARDEN OF EDEN groceries continue to lard their customers (and freeloaders cleverly disguised as customers) with such generous amounts of costly but costless delicacies. There's always a tray of fresh bread with olive oil for dipping. Near the bakery, baskets are stuffed with sample… More >>
  • Best Spoonful Of Sugar

    C.O. BIGELOW APOTHECARIES

    If I had a child, I bet she'd love to try tutti-frutti-flavored Tylenol. With piña colada-flavored pain killers for parents, and Angus beef and tuna tinctures for pets, it is actually possible to administer medication to the entire family with minimal effort. C.O. BIGELOW APOTHECARIES is magical in other ways as well: The oldest apothecary in the country, it's been… More >>
  • Best Cheap Unusual Produce

    PATEL BROTHERS

    PATEL BROTHERS is a supermarket of Indian foods, smack in the middle of Jackson Heights' main drag. As you might expect, they've got top-quality rice, dal, and spices galore. Their real draw, though, is their very reasonably priced produce, which is so good they display it out front. They've also got lots of subcontinental specialties you don't see at normal… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Pocky

    SUNRISE MART

    Pity the poor fool scarfing Subway over on St. Marks, when snappily-packaged-snack mecca SUNRISE MART lies just around the corner. Proffered Pocky biscuit sticks range from coconut to mousse, with suave Men's Pocky recommended for post-pubescents (but where's Womyn's?). Other standouts include various Collon permutations (Spastic not recommended) and—Dirty Southerners take note—Crunky chocolate bars; for a more personal nosh, try… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Toys That Pee

    PEARL RIVER

    Chinatown in Manhattan is a world of exotic wonders—unless, of course, you're Chinese. Sure, the dim sum is incredible, but you'll also find a couple places selling everything from gifts for grandma to toys that urinate. It's really water, though you could fill them with . . . let's not go there. Fans, slippers, lamps, snacks, furniture—believe me, at PEARL… More >>
  • Best Last-Minute Birthday Presents

    RICKY'S

    Walking into RICKY'S past a Rockette-line of mannequin legs outfitted in clashing patterned tights, you know you've entered a world full of kitschy knickknacks that no one would ever buy for themselves but everyone wants for their birthday. Kids don't exactly need individual Kleenex packages printed with Simpsons characters or Japanimation office supplies, but those are both really exciting gifts.… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Something for Your Little Sister or Brother

    FORBIDDEN PLANET

    If action figures, comics, and other toys enable kids to acclimate to, claim some control over, and even improve on the adult-ruled society that surrounds them, FORBIDDEN PLANET might as well be their real world. The store thoroughly represents the cartoonish, sci-fi, fantastic, freaky, furry, squeaky, and scary milieu shared by Pokemon, Star Wars, Nightwing, and countless other (sometimes even… More >>
  • Best Place To Rue Blowing Up Your Action Figures

    LOVE SAVES THE DAY

    Remember strapping Cobra Commander to a cherry bomb in the name of national security? Remember how liberating it was watching Optimus Prime burst into a million untransformable shards while all the Decepticons stood around and high-fived? No? Well, a trip to LOVE SAVES THE DAY should jog your memory, 'cause every damn robot or superhero you loved to death is… More >>
  • Best Tchotchke Store

    REMINISCENCE

    Establishments like Mod World and Love Saves the Day provide some fashionable competition, but the best-quality junk that you'll find outside of a Staten Island landfill is at REMINISCENCE, a quarter-century-old institution. You call it "cheesy, tacky," they call it "fun, unusual." Those in search of leis, rubber duckies, potato guns, fuzzy dice, Pez dispensers, kazoos, Magic 8-Balls, inflatable trees… More >>
  • Best Sparkly Princess Hello Kitty Stickers

    SANRIO

    True to its "Small Gift, Big Smile" slogan, SANRIO proffers the ultimate in cute, cuddly schlock you can't possibly live without. Some recent booty includes the aforementioned sticker, with Hello Kitty driven by a teddy-bear chauffeur tickling two pastel unicorns—mush! mush!—on a rainbow ($1); Hawaiian Hello Kitty No. 2 pencil with a transparent pink eraser (50 cents); and Chococat 8.5… More >>
  • Best Sticker Booth

    CORNER OF ST. MARKS AND SECOND

    The CORNER OF ST. MARKS AND SECOND is the perfect place to make a pit stop for some wee stickers, when you're struck with that vain or wacky fancy. Here your options include yourself grinning next to Ralph Nader, Kool Keith, Chewbacca, Jet Li, or various Ghostbusters. Or put your pretty mug inside a television frame, dollar bill, or proximate… More >>
  • Best Place To Become Bespectacled

    ALAIN MIKLI SAMPLE SALE

    My current pair came from my optician's basement in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Some little old lady in 1952 never picked up her prescription. My bejeweled frames are pert and pretty and precious, but I'm afraid of breaking them—or so I say, in order to justify my never-ending search for spectacles. But at the semi-annual (May and December) ALAIN MIKLI… More >>
  • Best Original And Wicked T-Shirt Design

    SELVEDGE - CLOSED

    If you've seen a guy walking around wearing a T-shirt with "My Girlfriend Is Out of Town" blazing across the front in iron-on letters, then he's probably cheating . . . and you've seen one of SELVEDGE's tees. One day, Taavo Somer decided to start marking on his old, inside-out shirts some of the bizarre things he was witnessing in… More >>
  • Best Variety of Cheap Socks

    NATIONAL WHOLESALE LIQUIDATORS

    There are all sorts of household appliances you don't know you need until you start browsing through aisles cluttered with fire-retardant file cabinets and bear-shaped oven mitts. At NATIONAL WHOLESALE LIQUIDATORS these things are ridiculously cheap. One of the surplus items they are always eager to get rid of are patterned socks. There are at least three large bins full… More >>
  • Best Vegan Shoe Store Located in a Former Butcher Shop

    MOO SHOES

    A more appropriate name for MOO SHOES, actually the city's only vegan footwear store, would be Moo-less Shoes, but then the pun would be ruined. The Murray Hill shop, run by sisters Sara and Erica Kubersky out of a former meat market, offers the cruelty-free set a good variety of hip footwear (brands include Ethical Wares and Ecolution Hemp Shoes),… More >>
  • Best Brand-Name Sneakers for Pennies

    RICHIES

    You could pass right by this Delancey Street shop with the neon Timberland signs in the window, and never know that in RICHIES basement lies the mother lode of dirt-cheap sneaks. Flip-tongued Pumas and chunky Basics running shoes vie for shelf space with all manner of Nikes, and white and green Jimmy Connors-era Adidas. Corporate logos and swooshes are where… More >>
  • Best Trim Shop

    FRENCH GENERAL

    Even if, in our poor benighted age, there isn't much call for silk sashes or mother-of-pearl buttons for tea gloves, it's good to know where to get them should the occasion demand. At FRENCH GENERAL, damsels and dandies can find new and vintage accessories, often for a song. Glass jars, delicate drawers, and endless spools divulge buttons, snaps, pins, ribbon,… More >>
  • Best Candy Shop of Panties

    CENTURY 21

    Sure, the Lourdes of discount shopping has higher-end lingerie like La Perla, Escada, and Natori, but the real reason for making the trip south to CENTURY 21 is the racks of maximum-cool, candy-colored,100 percent cotton string bikini underpants, arranged by shade and style. Choose from watermelon pink, hydrangea blue, Catholic-schoolgirl white, and myriad stripes and polka dots (and little flowers… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy Women's Pants If You're a Guy

    CANAL JEAN COMPANY

    How embarrassing would it be to waltz into one of those brand-name Broadway boutiques and be told that you were browsing in the "wrong" section? Wouldn't it be better, guys, to shop for women's pants in the large, anonymous CANAL JEAN COMPANY, where everyone would know you know you're in the wrong section, and leave well enough alone? And where,… More >>
  • Best Little Shop of Flowers

    CHAWAN

    Ikebana, the ancient art of Japanese flower arrangement, emphasizes composition as much as color. From her tiny CHAWAN storefront on Grand Street, Masae Yoshino custom-creates strange and beautiful bouquets that mix bells of Ireland, green-centered daisies and lucky bamboo, or alstramaria with the humble clover Gomphrena globosa (here known by its Japanese name, A Thousand Days of Red). Bring your… More >>
  • Best Place To Find Parts for Your 1995 Macintosh

    TEKSERVE

    Even if Apple just opened a new store in Soho, they still don't have the ability to fix older models. New Yorkers have flocked to TEKSERVE for Mac needs since 1990, and their full-service tech center boasts same-day service for most upgrades, plus an ancient Coke machine that spits out glass bottles for 10 cents in the waiting area. If… More >>
  • Best Bookshop for Pulp and Detective Fiction

    MURDER INK

    The joint was small, sure, and on a dry strip of Broadway, up in the low Nineties. But the sign in the window said MURDER INK. It was the place she was desperate for. She went in, stepped over a sleeping dog, and steadied herself on the counter. "Listen, kid," she said to the clerk. "I need your complete Hammett,… More >>
  • Best Place To Feed Your Wanderlust

    COMPLETE TRAVELLER

    Not just Fodor's, Lonely Planet, and Frommer's, but Michelin rouge manuals, Azerbaijan atlases, and old WPA guides. That's one-half of the COMPLETE TRAVELLER. The other? Stimulating out-of-print travel diaries, documenting everything from outdated travel modes like heart-of-darkness yawls and underworld hacks to turn-of-the-century bohemians who wrote things like, "I came to New York, mainly to see Greenwich Village" and well-educated… More >>
  • Best Place To Feed Your Wanderlust

    COMPLETE TRAVELLER

    Not just Fodor's, Lonely Planet, and Frommer's, but Michelin rouge manuals, Azerbaijan atlases, and old WPA guides. That's one-half of the COMPLETE TRAVELLER. The other? Stimulating out-of-print travel diaries, documenting everything from outdated travel modes like heart-of-darkness yawls and underworld hacks to turn-of-the-century bohemians who wrote things like, "I came to New York, mainly to see Greenwich Village" and well-educated… More >>
  • Best Lifestyle/Health Magazines

    POZ AND MAMM

    The folks at POZ aren't lying that this mag for people affected by HIV and AIDS is "accessible and isn't homework." Liz Taylor was even on the cover! Both intellectually rigorous and actually useful, POZ is available for free to any person who is HIV positive and cannot afford a subscription (and there's a Spanish-language version, POZ en Español). POZ… More >>
  • Best Feminist Bookstore/Community Enterprise

    BLUESTOCKINGS WOMEN'S BOOKSTORE AND CAFÉ

    Women-focused book events (think all the authors from Le Tigre's "Hot Topic"), workshops, and a meeting and gathering place. The ambitious goal, according to BLUESTOCKINGS WOMEN'S BOOKSTORE AND CAFÉ's mission statement, is "to be trans-inclusive, multi-lingual, open to all sexualities and spirit-ualities, intergenerational and to challenge racism, classism, ablism, sexism, ageism and sizism." Besides an exemplary selection of fiction… More >>
  • Best 'Unimpressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Bookstore'

    DROUGAS

    Noam Chomsky screams out from the front desk and doesn't seem out of place in this Carmine Street back alley, remarkable for being one of the few remaining streets with real "old Village" charm, all the more so because of all the great cheap stuff. From biographies on Joyce to studies on Buddhism, tips on how to have great sex… More >>
  • Best Public Aid To Self-Hate

    TRUE MIRRORS

    New Yorkers search for new ways to hate themselves each day. Enter the brilliant Walter sibling creative team, who offer up non-reversing TRUE MIRRORS, sold by appointment only. Since 1999, a sample mirror has been on display in their storefront window, providing 24-hour access to unflipped self-viewing. Your nightmarish reflection is purportedly a real-deal image of how others see you.… More >>
  • Best Bulk Guilt Supplier

    MIGHTY MUTTS

    If there's no monks with rice bowls around, the next best thing are the stalwarts of MIGHTY MUTTS, who brave the elements and construction crews to hold a roving open-air animal shelter at Union Square each weekend. Their curbside, at-risk dogs and cats create a surreal, political-cartoon tableau of deprivation at the edges of a tourist district's plenty. Such responsibility… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy a Kitty

    KITTYKIND ADOPTION

    Kittens are just so CUTE, aren't they? The way they crawl onto your lap, nose into grocery bags, and—oh!—join you in your soft, warm, comfortable . . . sleepy . . . bed . . . zzzzz. Wake up! It's morning, the sun is streaming through the window, and kitty wants to cuddle. Kitty, who wouldn't instantly fall in love… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy a Sloth

    OBSCURA ANTIQUES & ODDITIES

    Clearly a labor of love, OBSCURA ANTIQUES & ODDITIES feels more like the attic discovered upon the death of an old scientist who lived in a spooky house on a hill. The items catching your attention depend on your particular phobia or fetish. An animal lover can take home her very own sloth, stuffed for posterity and posing on a… More >>
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