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feb 05 2009

Shopping: Fred Flare's weird-but-useful travel items

Retro Block iPod Speaker (Courtesy Fred Flare)

I'm obsessed with Fred Flare, an online boutique that sells unusual clothes, home items, jewelry, gadgets, and oddball items—including Bacon-strip band-aids, Sparkling Toothy Earrings, and an Eiffel Tower cheese grater.

The company doesn't have a "travel" tab on its site right now, but lots of its weird products are also useful for travelers, including the cute Tetran Headphone Winder ($14), an easy-to-pack 2 inches tall, and Rain Parade Mini Umbrellas ($32). Want a conversation-starter for plane or train rides? Animal ear-buds ($15) will do the trick. Bored with your digital camera? This Pop Art Color Camera—on sale right now for $15—takes four pictures in one second with 35mm film. When you get them developed, all four shots print on one page in four different colors. Oh, and for you people with lots of gadgets, there's the Electro Man Outlet Hub ($24), which can plug in four devices. I take the Retro Block iPod Speaker ($25) on road trips, when I don't have an iPod hookup in the car; you could also blast it in your hotel room (no need to plug in—the speaker is powered by the iPod.)

Fred Flare has been around for about 10 years and is run by two guys in New York City. They sell a collection of their own designs and other things they love. A bricks-and-mortar store opened last fall in Brooklyn, and is just as cheerful as the online store.

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Read a review of the store on nytimes.com

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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