Shopping & Services

  • Best Blow Job

    Blow

    "Why can't you just blow-dry your own hair?" a perplexed boyfriend once asked us as we extolled the virtues of professional salon blow-outs. Well, we can, but a lifetime of television and women's magazines have us convinced that we're hopelessly inadequate at it, and our lack of follicle finesse is keeping us from reaching our truest beauty. Plus, it's just… More >>
  • You Might Want to Lose Those Chains

    Fashion a new life on your road to being free, By Angela Ashman

    On Fashion's Night Out—Anna Wintour's citywide September party to get everyone shopping again—I was speaking with local designer Maria Cornejo, one of Michelle Obama's favorites, about something that has been bothering me for a long time: the popularity and proliferation of fast-fashion chains. Cornejo, who was having a trunk show at Barneys, predicted that, in our new economy, more shoppers… More >>
  • Best Remaining Video/DVD Store

    Alan's Alley Video

    Most of the video/DVD places left in town are chain stores overstocked with Nicolas Cage films and Care Bears adventures, but Alan's Alley Video remains a sprawling, casual, neighborhood gem of a place with some real finds on the shelves. Filling in where the departed Kim's Video left off, the old standby Alan's has its share of movie-channel-ready women's classics… More >>
  • BookCourt

    Best BookStore Expanding in the Face of a Vanishing Industry

    BookCourt

    Last fall, we were walking past our favorite independent bookstore, BookCourt, when we stopped and did a double-take. The once-crammed shop in Boerum Hill had doubled in size, adding an extra 1,800 feet, with a new sky-lit ceiling and a large room for hosting the kinds of readings and panel discussions you would never find at the nearby Barnes &… More >>
  • Best Bodega

    Mexico 2000

    UrbanDictionary.com defines a bodega as a "Latin mini-mart," and who are we to argue? The key word, of course, is "Latin." And for lovers of Mexican goods in particular, the sun shines upon Mexico 2000, a quaint shop under the J/M/Z line in East Williamsburg. Here, the imported treats range from Jumex juices, Abuelita hot chocolate, pulp of tamarind, Bimbo… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor Straight Out of 'Cry Baby'

    Glamour Garage

    To achieve the look of a real pin-up beauty—Bettie Page, say, or perhaps someone more current like Katy Perry—Williamsburg's Glamour Garage is your destination. This drag spot, sister salon to Hello Beautiful and led by stylist Rebecca Faye, recently joined forces with Patricia Field's place in Noho, which should automatically tell you something about GG's m.o.: unique and sexy. The… More >>
  • Best Wine Shop

    Chelsea Wine Vault

    "Fabulous," says the cashier as he takes your selection. "Wonderful," he breathes as he accepts your credit card. "Lovely," he crows as he hands back a receipt. And yet somehow, it doesn't annoy the hell out of us. Chelsea Wine Vault really is the happiest place on earth, a cheerful and airy oasis amid the industrial-chic Chelsea Markets. Sommelier/manager David… More >>
  • Best Local Men's Clothing Designer

    Unis

    Eunice Lee was a Parson's grad toiling in the '90s for large companies such as DKNY and Colours by Alexander Julian before she finally threw up her hands and went into business for herself: Unis Inc., her appealingly cheery retail outpost on Elizabeth Street, soon followed. Lee's well-fitting, subtle-colors-saturated men's wear is almost reassuring to put on and, more importantly,… More >>
  • Best Shop for the Williamsburg Girl Who Has to Grow Up

    In God We Trust

    Wearing, say, a long, ripped T-shirt over shredded leggings is fine for Bedford Avenue, but when the Williamsburg girl needs a grown-up look, In God We Trust is her shop. Tattooed clothing and jewelry designer Shana Tabor makes vintage-inspired clothes that are classic, timeless, and perfect for any occasion. Whether you're trying to impress the boyfriend's parents or a new… More >>
  • Best Shop for the Bookish Fashionista

    Dossier

    At first glance, you may think you have the wrong address. Concealed inside the garden apartment of a landmark brownstone, Dossier is one of the finest new additions to the Fort Greene shopping scene with its well-edited selection of clothing, jewelry, books, and other curiosities. Co-owned by friends Skye Parrott (who lives above the shop), Katherine Krause, and Molly McIver,… More >>
  • Best Clothes for Under $100

    A-OK

    Yeah, we knew that would get your attention. A-OK is the new, more affordable offshoot of the experimental clothing boutique Oak. What you'll find—in the basement of their Noho shop and at the back of their Williamsburg shop—are incredibly cool pieces for women and men at excellent prices, ranging from $5 to $275, with much of the stock under $100.… More >>
  • Best Latin Arts Store

    Fuego 718

    It's been five years since Fuego 718 opened its doors, which is like an eternity for businesses in the financial churn of Williamsburg. The longevity can be credited to the eclectic handmade merchandise sold here by owner Alex—an outgoing señor who seems like an old family friend who knows the story behind all the handbags made from recycled rice bags,… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Sisters Community Hardware

    If, like many New Yorkers, you find that you've moved into an apartment that was less than cared for by its previous occupant, you know how handy the neighborhood hardware supplier is. And if you happen to be in Clinton Hill, you're in luck: Sisters Community Hardware is a one-stop, 2,700-square-foot shop for everything you need. In addition to having… More >>
  • Best Store Where a Weight-Watcher Can Pig Out

    Lifethyme Natural Market

    Anyone who has attempted a diet for more than five minutes knows how the cookie cravings begin just moments after the calorie-counting does. The standard advice to beat the snack attack usually involves munching on something green, taking a walk, or doing everything in your power not to pass a cupcake shop (like that's possible in New York). One store… More >>
  • Sweet Virginia

    Best Modern Vintage Shop

    Sweet Virginia - CLOSED

    There's a certain aura to Sweet Virginia, the vintage shop on the south side of Williamsburg. It's as if you've stepped into Marilyn Monroe's walk-in closet—and by that, we mean Monroe when she was Norma Jeane. The quaint boutique is adorned skillfully as if it were a part of someone's classic '50s home, with unique outfits aligned on each side… More >>
  • Best One-Stop Asian Market

    m2m

    Asian convenience store m2m, of the pea-green signs and boisterous pop music, is stocked with more than authentic grub. Next to the chili sauces and Philippine pancit, the tiny market carries typical bodega goods, including toiletries, Lean Cuisines, and a wide selection of American and Czech beer. This makes m2m an efficient stop for the East Village chefs who peruse… More >>
  • Best Pain-Free Acupuncturist

    Mark Kuebel

    Americans are generally not big on sticking themselves with needles—and for very solid reasons: It usually hurts. But many who venture on the wild side, medicine-wise, swear by the benefits of acupuncture, that ancient and peculiar Chinese method for combating illness. It takes a brave and trusting patient to stretch out on a treatment table and let someone stick you… More >>
  • Hayden-Harnett

    Best Bag Lady (and Bag Man)

    Hayden-Harnett - CLOSED

    Handbags ain't cheap. And New York women don't tote their lives around in tiny, delicate clutches—we need huge, cavernous shoulder bags, ones that can contain all the essential detritus of our unpredictable days and nights. Often enough, these can break both the back and the bank, but Greenpoint designer duo Hayden-Harnett takes our side on this: Their handbags are spacious… More >>
  • Steven Alan

    Best Shirts to Steal From Your Boyfriend

    Steven Alan

    Yeah, it sounds a little selfish, but if you're going to buy your boyfriend a gift, shouldn't you get him something you can both enjoy? He won't even see your ulterior motive when you hand him a box with a classic plaid button-down shirt from Steven Alan inside. "I've never had a shirt fit me so perfectly!" he'll exclaim as… More >>
  • Best Boutique for Effortless Style

    Built by Wendy

    See that girl over there with the pinstriped empire-waist dress and adorable built-in tie at the neck? Or that one in the red dress with a ruffled hem under the tweed trench that flares out just so? Sweet and preppy, but always with a punk-rock edge, the girl who wears Built by Wendy is easy to spot because she looks… More >>
  • Best Special Forces

    Burlington Toys

    As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, the Army has had a difficult time attracting new recruits, thus forcing existing troops to return for multiple tours of duty. Perhaps the generals should look in the basement of a small bookshop on the Lower East Side, where legions of combat-ready troops have amassed. In the slightly dusty display cases at… More >>
  • Best Way to Get Your Kicks

    Leonard's Sports Shop

    American football is for sissies. Sure, our meaty linebackers could probably take down the average tank or comfortably afford to buy one, but it's soccer—which the rest of the world calls football—that is the real tough guy's game. Its players are more athletic, and its owners more brutal—they've occasionally shot team members for poor performance—and its fans are way, way,… More >>
  • \'Golden Girls\'–themed gifts

    Best Trend in Crafts and Jewelry

    'Golden Girls'–themed gifts

    Whether you are a die-hard fanatic (like us) or just want to thank someone for being a friend, you'll be pleased to know that there's a whole plethora of 'Golden Girls'–themed gifts making their way into flea markets, craft fairs, and artsy Web shop Etsy. Recently, a light combing of such places revealed tote bags, stuffed dolls, "Stay Golden" T-shirts,… More >>
  • McGovern Florist

    Best Morbid Florist

    McGovern Florist

    Really, the sign says it all: "Cemetery Plots Cared for * Fruit Baskets * Balloons * Plants for all Occasions." Sure, McGovern Florist has the usual botanical paraphernalia—out front, trays of daisies and impatiens await implantation, and bags of soil huddle; inside, a cooler chills buckets of roses, lilies, and tulips—but alongside this flora, more macabre items nestle. There are… More >>
  • Most Stylish Yet Reasonable Furniture

    Gramercy Thrift Shop

    That sprawling Salvation Army on 46th and Eleventh has scads of discarded furniture, but it's hit or miss, with usable furnishings no easier to find than a cab (or minivan) to get you home. Stick to the Housing Works–operated Gramercy Thrift Shop, where most of the pieces reek of some sort of class, but are hardly overpriced—from perfectly reasonable loveseats… More >>
  • Best Offline Game Geekdom

    The Compleat Strategist

    Game consoles like Xbox, Wii, and Playstation have become such entertainment juggernauts that they've rivaled music and movies for years now, but don't count out the lo-fi game market: Starting out in 1975, board game haven The Compleat Strategist has branched out into three stores, with Gotham as its home base. Featuring some 1,200 game titles, the store caters mostly… More >>
  • Best Way to Literally Get Your Clock Cleaned

    Sutton Clock Shop

    On the Upper East Side, a 93-year-old Danish immigrant still applies the same trade he took from the Old Country and has practiced here for over six decades. Knud Christensen set up Sutton Clock Shop in its current location in 1965, later bringing in his youngest son, Sebastian Laws, into the trade as an apprentice. Since they're perched over a… More >>
  • Cake Man Raven

    Best Place to Get a Weird-Themed Cake

    Cake Man Raven - CLOSED

    Sure, we all love cake, but why bother with a boring flat sheet of icing when you can gorge on an elaborate structure crafted by confectioner Raven Patrick De'sean Dennis III a/k/a Cake Man Raven? In April 2000, CMR opened his namesake Fort Greene shop, which features his signature red velvet cake (a Southern delicacy), but he makes his rep… More >>
  • Best Bikini Waxer

    Acqua Beauty Bar

    Think of the most uncomfortable, invasive, embarrassing physical process imaginable. Now, if you're a man, you've only picked a runner-up—as any woman will tell you, bikini waxing wins hands-down. Add to it the mild indignity of paying upward of $50 monthly for this service, and the entire experience feels downright sadistic. Fortunately for our feminine mystique, the posh Acqua Beauty… More >>
  • Best Consignment Store

    Tokyo Joe

    You're not doing yourself any favors by letting last season's 3.1 Philip Lim dress molder in your closet. But selling designer duds in New York is a frustrating process: The Upper East Side charity closets are fussy and overpriced, and the Williamsburg warehouses are snobby and fickle (and they'll mock your haircut). The East Village's cute, chic boutiques are the… More >>
  • Best Ongoing Sample Sale

    Clothingline

    Clothingline in the Garment District is the best-kept secret in sample sales, except for the twice-annual explosion when it's the absolute worst—you know, the handful of days when preppy young women line up five blocks deep for the Tory Burch blow-out bazaar. (You've heard the shrieking.) But except for those over-publicized days, the permanent warehouse hosts an impressive and under-publicized… More >>
  • Best New Antiques Shop

    Kill Devil Hill

    With everyone talking about getting back to basics, antiques shop Kill Devil Hill in Greenpoint is the place to start. Opened in 2008 by Mark Straiton and Mary Brockman (a young, stylish duo who look like they just stepped out of a 1930s movie), this gem of a shop specializes in antiques that are more functional than decorative, like old-timey… More >>
  • Best Shop for Designing the Shoes of Your Dreams

    East Village Shoe Repair

    Whether you want your Converse to be thigh-high or your Nikes to have a fierce stiletto heel, there's nothing—and we mean nothing—the savvy shoe artists at East Village Shoe Repair can't do. Located on the bustling St. Mark's strip (just look for the raggedy Barney doll out front), this closet-size shop is brimming with old heels, boots, and sneakers just… More >>
  • Best Jewelry for the It-Girl in Your Life

    Catbird

    Maybe it's the way she rocks out at the Shank or knows how to put together an amazing outfit from the Salvation Army, but there's just something about your girl that tells you Tiffany & Co. wouldn't impress her much. So, what would? Anything from Catbird, a teeny Bedford Avenue boutique that specializes in local jewelry designers with styles that… More >>
  • Best Biker Chic

    Smith + Butler

    If you're planning to take a road trip (maybe of the "funemployed" variety, perhaps?), Smith + Butler in Carroll Gardens has you covered, from rugged-looking plaid flannels and vintage jeans down to your mode of transportation. Yes, this incredible boutique actually sells vintage motorcycles—that really work!—and proudly displays them throughout the shop. Last time we visited, there was a powder-blue… More >>
  • Best Party Supply Store

    Village Paper Party Store

    Looking to throw a party for next to nothing? Village Paper Party Store is where you'll find all the things you know you need (colorful plates, cups, utensils, glittery sparkler candles, noisemakers, streamers, confetti) and then a whole lot of stuff you suddenly have to have (a golden tiara, a cheetah mask, parasol straws, glow sticks, award ribbons, paper lanterns)—all… More >>
  • Best Vintage Eyewear

    Fabulous Fanny's

    You'll almost feel overwhelmed when you step inside the vintage eyewear boutique Fabulous Fanny's, which is stuffed with hundreds of one-of-a-kind glasses and shades. It's easy to lose an hour or two in this tiny shop, where all the frames, except a select expensive and antique few (some date back to the 19th century), are stacked on racks and in… More >>
  • Best Place to Make Your Own Rubber Stamp

    Casey Rubber Stamps

    Whether you're searching for a unique gift or a quirky place to go on a first date, Casey Rubber Stamps is one of the East Village's hidden treasures. This sliver of a shop—a mess of ink stamps, wood blocks, strips of rubber, and boxes—is fun not just for flipping through the catalogs of stamp designs (ranging from $2.50 to $9)… More >>
  • Best Movers for Less

    Park Slope Movers

    Here's a typical moving day experience: You've been up all night packing boxes for the movers, carefully labeling them "FRAGILE," only to have a few gruff men throw them around with gleeful abandon and then charge you a couple hundred dollars extra in hidden fees—which, of course, you give them because you're too tired to fight and, frankly, a little… More >>
  • Best Plant Shop

    Plantworks

    On a recent afternoon, inside the gardening store Plantworks, an anxious man in a business suit pleaded for help. "I need a consultation. My plant—it's turning yellow! And I water it every day!" After getting more details, the incredibly patient Chris Baptiste, who manages the store for his stepdaughter and her husband, determined the man was overwatering his fern and… More >>
  • Best Spice Shop

    Kalustyan's

    Whether you're a cooking pro or get frightened by the sight of a frying pan, there's no doubt that your taste buds crave flavor. The only way to achieve that, subtly or otherwise, is to have the right ingredients or—better yet—the perfect spices that'll make your meal a memorable one. Kalustyan's carries every spice imaginable, as well as an impressive… More >>
  • Best Comics Outpost

    Rocketship - CLOSED

    Getting into comics—a/k/a graphic novels, a/k/a "Don't call them 'graphic novels,' you sound like a douchebag"—is daunting for newcomers: so much to absorb, so many stigmas and clichés to roll your eyes at, so many X-Men titles to choose from. Brooklyn's Rocketship, on Smith Street in Cobble Hill, tends toward the lit-scene-approved side of things: You're more likely to find… More >>
  • Best Shave

    Barber Shop

    A good shave is . . . exhilarating, but surprisingly hard to find. Most barber shops don't perform them, and for good reason: They rarely make sense economically, unless a shop can be assured of the kind of return business you find at Barber Shop (yes, that's the full name). The Russian trio of Yosef, Ross, and Albert are master… More >>
  • Best Reminder of the Pre-Corporate Village

    Shakespeare & Co.

    The Astor Place Barnes & Noble shuttered and became a gym, but around the corner, the small and purposeful Shakespeare & Co. is still kicking. What began as an Upper West Side bookseller (that site closed in 2000) is now one of the last non-evil chain stores in the city. Of the remaining locales, which include the UES, Gramercy, and… More >>
  • Best Emergency Backrub

    Dorit Baxter New York Day Spa

    When we were working a midtown office job, we naturally had neck and back problems. Not spa people, we first availed ourselves of little Chinese storefronts because they were cheap and didn't require advance booking. These gave relief, but only for a few days. We eventually deduced that you get what you pay for, and collected recommendations for an upgrade—even… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Housing Works

    The boroughs have charming little thrifts, like Carroll Gardens' Union Max, where you can get Bakelite, glass beads, and weird printed matter like '70s concert programs (Elton John—with these photos, how'd we miss he was gay?) and '50s educational comics about VD. But you can't much furnish a home or wardrobe with those. Housing Works' several Manhattan thrift shops are… More >>
  • Best Retreat Salon

    The Parlour Brooklyn

    Located at the end of Greenpoint Avenue, adjacent to the waterfront, lies the newly built The Parlour Brooklyn, a spacious oasis that seems to have been specifically constructed to make you chill out. Greenpoint resident and stylist Nackie Karcher opened up this slice of heaven when she noticed big changes in her neighborhood and sensed an opportunity. The salon, with… More >>
  • Best Bookstore for Commuters

    Penn Books on the Long Island Rail Road Corridor at Penn Station

    The best little bookstore in the nation's busiest train station—hell, North America's busiest passenger-transport facility, period—is the Penn Books on the Long Island Rail Road Corridor at Penn Station. Featuring the retail world's thinnest aisles, the independently owned shop in the station's Central Corridor plays a role in preventing meltdowns from hundreds of thousands of harried LIRR commuters by giving… More >>
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