My Brooklyn Is Better Than Yours
Manhattan? Fuhgeddaboudit. These days, the most interesting part of New York is across the East River.
Across the street is a little jewel box of a shop called Sleep. It carries top-notch versions of what the name implies--bedding, pillows, blankets, and lingerie--and it always seems like a great place to take a nap. Resist the urge to slumber and pick up a pair of silk PJ's or even a new quilt if you've got the dough. The bedding can be a bit pricey, but the quality is excellent.
Independent boutique Sodafine recently relocated from Fort Greene to Williamsburg. Artist Erin Weckerle stocks her cheerful olive-green shop with cutting-edge fashion, such as one-of-a-kind handmade shoes and crocheted earrings. This is the place to snag a piece that you won't see on your friends at home.
Before you leave the 'hood, stop by Ugly Luggage on trendy Bedford Avenue and PS9 on North Ninth Street. The former specializes in retro furniture and accessories (such as old church pews, desks, and typewriters), while the latter stocks the coolest of the cool in pet gear. I love the modern cat scratchers in hot pink and electric blue.
Traveling south (on the subway's G line) you'll bump right into Atlantic Avenue, home to a long stretch of vintage and antiques stores. Darr, where there's everything from mid-20th-century chairs and tables to outright oddities (think antique surgery tools, masonry, and glass apothecary jars), is probably my favorite on the avenue.
If you're craving more antique furniture and feeling brave, walk down Atlantic to Horseman Antiques; the staff can be surly, but the selection is worth a trip. I've been snapped at for touching things (in a furniture store!) but the store has the stuff to back up the attitude. The things I'll endure for good vintage furniture . . . .
A short ride from the Bergen Street stop on the F line is Tivoli Home, a tiny Scandinavian store tucked into a corner of the General Store (a coffee shop) in Dumbo. Tivoli carries a nice collection of Danish dish towels and ceramics and larger pieces like pendant lamps and glass candelabras.
One of the reasons I moved to Park Slope was the fantastic selection of shops, like Cog & Pearl, a Fifth Avenue institution carrying goods such as blown-glass jewelry, ceramic bowls, and trays refashioned from street signs; Bird, a chic clothing shop with a branch for babies next door; modern-design store Matter, which is often compared to The Future Perfect but deserves distinction of its own; and Rare Device, a small shop specializing in indie clothing, accessories, and home decor.
Park Slope is also where the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. makes its home. The store is affiliated with the 826NYC literacy program, founded by writer Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and What Is the What). The front half of the store sells gallons of "invisibility powder," secret identity kits, capes, and other superhero necessities. Proceeds go toward a free tutoring service, reachable through a hidden door in the back.
Grab a cab or the B77 bus and make your way to Red Hook, one of the borough's hotter spots. At Erie Basin, Russell Whitmore has pulled together an exceptional collection of antique furniture, accessories, and jewelry. Check out the vintage cameos--they're stunning.