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  • best place to buy nautical gear

    NEW YORK NAUTICAL

    Need a housewarming gift for someone with a view of the water? NEW YORK NAUTICAL has harbor charts, tons of boat crap, and books for the armchair merchant mariner. The guide for decoding smokestack colors is out of print, but my second favorite is What Ship is That?, by Bob Basnight, which at $15.95 could almost help you pass for… More >>
  • best mermaid-centric boutique

    LOLA STAAR SOUVENIR BOUTIQUE

    Next to Ruby's Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk, the tiny LOLA STAAR SOUVENIR BOUTIQUE celebrates Mermaid Day yearlong. Memorabilia includes sexy or sweet sea nymph T-shirts, undies, bags, and dolls. Other tees play up Coney's past as "Sodom by the Sea," featuring the freaky grin of the Steeplechase Park icon or referencing '40s tattoo parlors with a cartoon sailor.… More >>
  • best preserved junkyard habitat

    MANHATTAN CASTLES AND PROPS

    Every city has its Central Park; what really distinguishes the exurban outskirts' wide-open spaces is how they can be wasted. No sprawling automobile graveyards here, but you can see the next best thing at MANHATTAN CASTLES AND PROPS, the mostly open-air antique store stuffed into a sliver of Nolita sidewalk. It's a mini reliquary of consumer grandeur, with commercial signage,… More >>
  • best garage full of dime-store overstock

    LEVY TIME & CO

    "You never know what you may find?" [sic] announces a huge banner at LEVY TIME & CO, blessing the chaos below. This large Gowanus garage, while perfect foraging ground for the design staff of your Fringe Festival show, is clearly where detritus from Canal Street goes to die. But it's far from eternal rest. Pell-mell across this plastic dystopia lie… More >>
  • best new mall

    BROOKLYN'S FIFTH AVENUE BETWEEN FLATBUSH AND 12TH STREET

    In just two years BROOKLYN'S FIFTH AVENUE BETWEEN FLATBUSH AND 12TH STREET has become like a tightly bound suburban mall stretched linear over 25 blocks. Many "Walk-A-Mall" trappings are present: smaller specialty shops (Slang Betty, Bob & Judi's Coolectibels) Americanized ethnic food (Long Tan, Chip Shop, Aunt Suzies), ornery teenagers, seniors on Mall Walks, and bad parking. All that is… More >>
  • best place to shop for a hoochie mama

    FULTON STREET MALL

    Whether you are shopping for the company of a slightly bad girl or just for some clothes for such a girl you are already fortunate enough to call Baby, get thee to FULTON STREET MALL. Most of the cool, scruffy street vendors have been swept away, and ranting black supremacists still claim center stage on the street, but there are… More >>
  • best twin shops for hipster moms and tots

    BIRD AND BABY BIRD - CLOSED

    Just because you're a Park Slope soccer mom doesn't mean you ought to dress like one. So if you need something chic for dropping off the kiddies at their exclusive preschool, and a classy number for the kiddies themselves, give your Filipino nanny the day off and pop into BIRD AND BABY BIRD. These luscious twin boutiques feature kicky sundresses… More >>
  • best absurdist name for a store

    LAUGHING GIRAFFE AT THE MONKEY'S WEDDING

    It may sound like a Dadaist manifesto, but the LAUGHING GIRAFFE AT THE MONKEY'S WEDDING is actually a long-standing toy store in Cobble Hill. Owner Helen Abegg explains that the mouthful of a name came about when her store the Monkey's Wedding (the title of an African folktale) merged with another kids' shop, the Laughing Giraffe, back in the late… More >>
  • best inappropriately named store

    CHEAP JACK'S

    With the grubby Williamsburg scene spawning smirky handbooks and perpetuating ill-conceived use of the now ubiquitous mesh hat, vintage clothing stores were perfectly primed to start mainlining trust funds in 2003— granted, three-floor emporium CHEAP JACK'S has never really lived up to its moniker, but at $180 for a used leather jacket, you're probably better off just waiting until your… More >>
  • best place to lose weight buying and returning flimsy furniture

    SURPRISE, SURPRISE

    If you are feeling like you have lost muscle tone, start shelling out for flimsy furniture at SURPRISE, SURPRISE. Haul it home, work to assemble it, and use it in the intended way. (If it's a chair, sit in it.) Then, the furniture will start barking at you like some sort of crazy physical trainer: "Surprise! I'm broken! Won't you… More >>
  • best belly dance shop

    HELLO SARI

    Yes, the Jackson Heights sari strip could eat this tiny, multicolored Lower East Side boutique as a tapa. No matter; this is a belly dancer's type of sari shop. Here you can find tentative beginners and shimmy pros paw-ing through multi-hued piles of saris, skirts, dresses, jewelry, shirts, slippers, and of course, hip scarves. One can score a perfectly shake-worthy… More >>
  • best place to find south asian art

    BOSE PACIA

    South Asian art is more than just antiquities like the Taj Mahal and tacky tapestries. It's also six-foot-tall paintings alluding to political violence or making fun of stereotypes and gender roles in Bollywood. BOSE PACIA is the first U.S. gallery to specialize in South Asian avant-garde art. The Chelsea space plays host to established artists; for lesser-known up-and-comers, check out… More >>
  • best chinatown sanrio supplier

    IKI IKI GIFT SHOP

    Located at the far south end of Mott Street and hidden behind an outdoor sign that reads "Dragon Bazaar" is IKI IKI GIFT SHOP, whose Hello Kitty bed and bath products ensure that you need never buy noncute again. The angelic feline appears in various guises on merch ranging from adult-size T-shirts and pajamas to tote bags and umbrellas, while… More >>
  • best magazine browsing

    KINOKUNIYA

    Japanese expats practice the art of tateyomi, or reading while standing, at this Rockefeller Plaza outpost of the venerable KINOKUNIYA booksellers. Jockey for space between them, and the occasional trendspotter, to peruse the latest fashion bulletins, from the zany (Cutie, Fruits) to the demure (Non-no, Spring) to the avant-garde (Ryuko Tsushin, So-en). For those put off by foreign text, occasional… More >>
  • best place to check your bag

    THE STRAND

    In 2002, owner Fred Bass told the Times that the titles most frequently lifted from THE STRAND were tomes on philosophy, fancy mathematics, and erudite religious studies—making it fairly safe to assume that the Strand attracts pilferers with higher-than-average reasoning skills. Reason this: if you're gonna shamelessly pinch texts, at least do it at a place where you can't also… More >>
  • best reason to shop on the lower east side

    "GO EAST" SHOPPING AND DINING DISCOUNT CARD

    The Lower East Side has gotten such a ton of press as the place to go for cheeky wares, offbeat clothes, and nonstop nightcrawling, you could forget that a poor economic climate has meant sluggish business. The Lower East Side Business Improvement District's "GO EAST" SHOPPING AND DINING DISCOUNT CARD, available at some of the nabe's shops or at lowereastsideny.com,… More >>
  • best business cards for the wannabe artist

    VISTAPRINT.COM

    There is a special place on the Web, VISTAPRINT.COM, where desperate artists may buy 250 business cards for basically the price of shipping. Unfortunately, there is a logo on the back and the loud phrase: "Business Cards are FREE at vistaprint.com!" The second you hand someone that back-branded card, it will become immediately apparent that no kind of business is… More >>
  • best anglophile clothier

    99X - CLOSED

    The mod revival is alive and well at the second-story shop 99X, where the coed school wear of the window display hints at inside treasures: Fred Perry polos, Ben Sherman shirts, cardigans with star or skull motif, tartan kilts, Sta-Prest pants, and skinny monochrome ties. Footwear ranges from punkish Dr. Martens to '50s-retro brothel creepers, and accessories include Lonsdale and… More >>
  • best ugly clothes

    DIESEL

    Remember when Teenage Mary said to Uncle Dave, "I sold my soul, must be saved—gonna take a walk down to Union Square, you never know who you're gonna find there?" Now you know: post-jocks and lame-o fashionistas all done up head to toe in so-ugly-they're-still-ugly threads from DIESEL. Here's a slogan: Diesel—good for burning!… More >>
  • best hipster frames

    NAKEDEYE

    Find every possible variation of the requisite chunky black eyeglass frame at George Lee and Owen Long's new LES optical shop, NAKEDEYE. The service is knowledgeable and super-friendly, and a well-edited selection ensures an unusually pain-free purchasing process. The duo also stocks the retro specs so popular these days, like big '80s sunglasses by Cazal. Looking like you just stepped… More >>
  • best place to buy earrings for four times what the exact same pair costs in chinatown

    BARBARA FEINMAN MILLINERY

    A pretty set of dangly costume earrings at BARBARA FEINMAN MILLINERY costs $4X, but feels worth it . . . until you spy the exact same pair unceremoniously tacked up on a vendor wall in Chinatown for $1X. (You do the math.) If even a single bead was different, that would be a bead to cling to with conviction.… More >>
  • best place to get the world's most generic gift for a lady

    CHELSEA WHOLESALE FLOWER MARKET

    I love buying things for the ladies. That's why I browse the CHELSEA WHOLESALE FLOWER MARKET's huge selection of pretty flowers—flowers so pretty, baby, I just had to buy them for you. You like those flowers, girl? I bought 'em for you. Yeah, just for you. Now gimme some sugar.… More >>
  • best sweet shop for perplexing gifts

    MINAMOTO KITCHOAN

    If you want to send a thoughtful but noncommittal gift to your sweetheart, MINAMOTO KITCHOAN has just the confounding confections. No telling what that special someone will make of "dry persimmon, filled with white beans coated with sweet red bean jelly." Or "sweet red bean paste sandwiched in sweet mini pan cakes." In the cold months, you can get sugarcoated… More >>
  • best new simpatica girl-run mercado for luscious, dewy fruits and green vegetables

    LOWER EAST SIDE GIRLS CLUB FARMERS' MARKET

    If Raising Victor Vargas's wry, self-determining Judy Marte seems like the avatar of Loisada girl power, her inner-sorority circle lives at the LOWER EAST SIDE GIRLS CLUB FARMERS' MARKET. Organic fruits and veggies, herbs, salsa fresca, apple pie, granola, soap, and other comidas y cosas are sold Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., between June 28 and October 25. Proceeds… More >>
  • best apothecary just like colonial williamsburg, but with more lavender tonics and fewer butter churns

    SCRIPS ELIXERS

    Outside Josiah Chowning's Tavern, a flotilla of maidens flounces down Duke of Gloucester Street in petticoats like puffy marshmallow barges. Eldress Spotswood winks at a winsome wig maker. Inside SCRIPS ELIXERS, it smells like heaven: figs and lime. Mavis ginger-mint toothpaste and Burt's Bees herbal deodorant with sage oil are stacked above Epsom salts and ear drops. A gingham-print broom… More >>
  • best devilishly saucy greeting cards

    280: DESIGN

    Lovey Howell's minxish novitiates could one-stop seduce the standard slavish cabana boy with greeting cards from 280: DESIGN. These belle, beguiling objects de vampola are three dollars each and seem Morse coded in Greta Garbo stand-off sighs. Observe "Nice Head," a black-and-white montage of nine simpering brunettes buttoned into prim Peter Pan collars and various millineries. Warning: "Femme Fatale," with… More >>
  • best mainstream video game store

    GAMESTOP

    The people who work in GAMESTOP are so damn nice—knowledgeable, friendly, and surprisingly free of zits—that I'd rather buy a game from them than rent one from the douches at Blockbuster. OK, I trade in games I get for free instead of renting. But you get the idea.… More >>
  • best underground video game store

    MULTIMEDIA 1.0

    The Kim's (or Forbidden Planet or Toy Tokyo) of gaming, MULTIMEDIA 1.0 carries cartridges for the Commodore 64 on up through Nintendo 64, plus nerd-punk zines, old hardware, and, of course, the latest and greatest discs. It's the only game in town!… More >>
  • best all-purpose video renting

    CINEMATHEQUE

    Looking for Dirty Debutantes 12, the New Zealand tearjerker Rain, the Scott Campbell vehicle Roger Dodger, or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? On video or DVD? In multiple copies? CINEMATHEQUE in Park Slope will satisfy all your movie desires, with reasonable fees and a newly elongated rental period. Not to mention no attitude, corporate policies, smirks, or back… More >>
  • best reason for film students to switch majors

    KIM'S VIDEO

    By all accounts, the workload at NYU's Tisch School is rigorous. But judging by the counter people at KIM'S VIDEO, the core curriculum could still use a few credits' worth of Professional Etiquette for Minimum-Wage Slaves. Lesson No. 1: Stop sneering. Until these Donnie Darko devotees grow up to be Oscar-winning screenwriters (or night managers at Blockbuster), their dreary faces… More >>
  • best store to buy authentic sari fabric

    INTERNATIONAL SARI PALACE

    Screw ABC, Anthropologie, Urban. Screw any stores making big bucks overcharging us for stuff they paid a third-world worker 50 cents for. Instead, DIY: new curtains, silk skirts, or bed throws with fabric sold to you by helpful employees like Mita (pictured) at the INTERNATIONAL SARI PALACE. Around since 1971, ISP has over a hundred different designs—from synthetic chiffons… More >>
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