( Featuring the Bolsa Bass by Critter and Guitari, availible at DijitalFix)
Just because you need some new headphones or a new iPhone dock or whatever doesn’t mean you need to lower your standards and buy whatever ugly shit is on sale at the local big-box retailer. DijitalFix offers an extensive selection of high-end gear for audio and electronics enthusiasts who aren’t willing to sacrifice either quality or good design.
218 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg.
For all the potentially fruitful crate-digging there is to be done at record stores across Brooklyn, there is something to be said for having a spot you know will stock just about every notable new LP you might be looking for. Whether it’s standard indie rock fare or reissues of psych, folk, blues and jazz, Sound Fix has you covered. Perfectly reasonable prices and a consistently friendly staff are added bonuses. Plus, you can buy records, then walk around the block to Brooklyn Brewery and inspect your liner notes while drinking beer.
44 Berry Street, Williamsburg.
No big surprises here: the Williamsburg outpost of W. 18th Street institution Academy Records has the best used bins in Brooklyn. Overwhelmingly deep and yet still masterfully curated, the selection is predictably heavy on obscure punk, indie and classic rock but also notable for its breadth of focus, with impressive sections dedicated to hip-hop, classical, blues, soul, and disco, plus the most extensive international offerings you’ll find anywhere. And would it be lame if we mentioned that the store’s not all dusty and gross like other used record shops? We’re pretty into that.
96 N. 6th Street, Williamsburg.
Lots of Brooklyn neighborhoods—Greenpoint, South Brooklyn, Park Slope—have great neighborhood bookstores. But trust us, because we live in a neighborhood without one, that if we’re getting on the subway to buy a book, we’re going to this clean, well-lighted place in Fort Greene. Most likely, we’re going for one of its A-lister readings, but also likely just to browse its well-organized and well-curated selection, which places subtle but much-appreciated attention on local authors.
686 Fulton Street, Fort Greene.
Photo by Lance Edmonds
Truth be told we spend a lot of time buying and selling at PS in DUMBO, but every time it feels like cheating because our heart belongs to this cramped and creaky Windsor Terrace shop, whose selection is as smart, varied and unusual as the neighbors who stock it.
242 Prospect Park West, Windsor Terrace.
This spot has been open on Metropolitan Avenue since 2008 under a whimsically altered vintage sign reading “Italian, French, Sicilian Bread…and Comic Booklets.” The owner, Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival founder and friendly conversationalist Gabriel Fowler, curates the small store’s not-snobby stock, where sad-sack, high-art masterpieces by Chris Ware mingle with insane collections of superhero space opera from Jack Kirby’s disgruntled, ambitious 1970s, and single issues by local artists sit on the racks next to the weirder, smarter titles from the mainstream.
540 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg.
Photo by Charlie Gower
Any Barnes and Noble or Rite Aid is a good place to pick up the latest GQ, but it’s only the independent booksellers who can be relied on for less mainstream, more vital publications, probably none more so than the one in Williamsburg—because it’s right in the belly of the beast, man.
218 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg.
This artist-run storefront space on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope regularly hosts exhibitions and openings—it’s a great spot to pop in to peep art and sip free wine before going out to dinner. Plus, the art on display is usually reasonably priced, meaning you could almost actually think about maybe buying it, and around Christmas it hosts a holiday sale at which you really could buy some gen-yoo-wine art for as little as $4.40.
440 Sixth Avenue, Park Slope.
Last year, NYC film-scene factotum Aaron Hillis—journalist, director, label VP, theater curator—bought this South Brooklyn video store, an admirable investment in a business-model that most others have been bailing on. Now that the borough is finally free of Blockbusters, it may be time for boutique outfits to reemerge and compete with the Internet like John Henry pounding his hammer. That story had a happy ending, right?
244 Smith Street, South Brooklyn.
If you’re as obsessed with your pet like we are, you probably make sure that they eat, dress, and have way better toys than you. Oh, and you make sure to always buy American because of all of those scary recalls on food and treats made in China. This adorable Bay Ridge boutique always keeps made-in-the-USA treats in stock, along with holistic pet foods and cool toys and apparel from indie purveyors. Oh, and Seamus the Labradoodle is the house mascot. We don’t trust any pet store that doesn’t have a house mascot.
7607 Third Avenue, Bay Ridge.
Photo by Denise Romano
Anyone who rides a bike in Brooklyn or western Queens knows this big Greenpoint spot is the place locally for all things bicycle. Most importantly, it stays open until 8pm while most of its competitors shutter at 7pm, meaning it’s the only place around if you pop a flat on your way home from work.
262 Driggs Avenue, Greenpoint.
This recently established Park Slope toy store strikes the perfect balance between kid-friendly and adult-friendly. Owners and longtime Park Slope-dwellers Avi Kravitz and Courtney Ebner have a background in design and it’s evident in this expertly curated selection of toys and children’s artwork. This shop is so welcome it’s surprising it’s so new, but it’ll definitely be around for some time.
158 Seventh Avenue, Park Slope.
Photo by Austin McAllister
Is it embarrassing that every time we enter this Williamsburg kids’ store we see at least a half-dozen tiny, tiny outfits we wish were grown-up size because we would totally wear them on the spot? Perhaps, but it’s hard to argue with the truly great curatorial taste on regular display here, from hand-embroidered stuffed whales to toddler-size sweaters knitted (seemingly) by Bjork’s cooler, rural cousin.
112 N. 6th Street, Williamsburg.
If you’re patient (and, well, lucky), there’s always a chance the aforementioned awesome sweater will wind up just down the street at used/consignment store, Flying Squirrel. Sure, it’ll be six months later, after Richie McRichparent’s little Calliope or Crif has gotten too big, but it’ll be worth the wait. With a great eye for value, the staff here stacks the racks with the stylish castaways from Williamsburg’s nouveau riche breeders. Everybody wins!
96 N. 6th Street, Williamsburg.
There are plenty of great women’s boutiques around, sure, but if we have to pick just one, the honor would go to Fort Greene’s Thistle & Clover. Since opening in 2008 it’s gained a reputation for championing independent and local designers—like our friends over at Catbird—and regularly holds open calls and trunk shows to seek out (and showcase) new talent. It’s also just an incredibly pleasant place to do your shopping with a consistent, well-curated selection and above-and-beyond customer service.
221 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene.
It’s tempting to give this one to many of the new shops that have popped up over the past couple years, but Epaulet remains at the top of the pile for the effortless, not-at-all-intimidating way it combines of-the-moment street style with classic menswear. Its slim-fit pants became a staple for style-conscious dudes all over the country; its collaborations with the legendary Alden Shoe Company are consistently stellar, and its line of oxford cloth button-downs incorporate the best aspects of stodgy old-school brands like Brooks Brothers (a substantial collar and a heavy weight) without any of the unwanted boxiness.
231 Smith Street, South Brooklyn.
Beloved both by locals and industry pros (thrift stores tend to rely on it for the attention to detail), this Bensonhurst cobbler has stayed a reasonably priced, reasonably well-kept neighborhood secret. Well worth the trip.
7803 17th Avenue, Bensonhurst.
Sure, you could find a fancier selection of frames at the Brooklyn Flea, but nobody’s going to sell you cheaper prescription glasses than the folks at this Borough Park spot. We understand the idea of glasses as a fashion statement, but we also need them to see, and can’t drop $100 every few months when some mosh-pitter smacks them from our faces.
907 48th Street, Borough Park.
Jewelry is one of the more intimate things you can wear. Maybe it’s not the most intimate thing that you wear, but because you wear it day after day, it needs to be something you feel strongly about and it needs to be something that represents you. So do you really want to wear what everyone else is wearing? No. You don’t. And, ideally, you want something with a little history. Red Hook’s Erie Basin offers a beautifully curated selection of antique jewelry so that you can adorn yourself with things like a Dragon’s Breath ring from the 1890s or a 200-year-old ring that looks like a bejeweled fly. Don’t you want to wear multi-colored, sparkly insects on your fingers? Of course you do. We know you do.
388 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook.
Photo courtesy Erie Basin
Well, right, this isn’t a stationery store, but they do offer a selection of beautiful, fancy pencils and notebooks. We’ve hopped on the East River Ferry just to score some of their red-and-blue editing pencils, then saw the same pencils on Mad Men weeks later—meaning they made us as cool as Mad Men before even Mad Men was that cool!
75 S. 6th Street, Williamsburg.
Photo by Jillian Lieboff
The rare New York thrift store that actually charges thrift store prices, this branch of the “L Train Vintage” chain still manages to maintain a higher-than-average quality level—no unexpected stains or burns—and surprisingly diverse selection on-hand. Another rarity? Its men’s section is nearly as big as the women’s!
118 Knickerbocker Street, Bushwick.
Brooklyn Farmacy manages to capture the vibe of the 50s ice cream parlor without veering too far into novelty territory the way those horribly lighted suburban chains do. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that they’ve actually set up shop in a musty old pharmacy and kept many of the original touches intact, but it also doesn’t hurt that they’re making egg creams worthy of the borough’s name, plus an assortment of classic and inventive sundaes. It’s kid-friendly if that’s your thing, but also perfect for visiting parents who maybe think you only know about bars because, let’s face it, you only know about bars.
513 Henry Street, South Brooklyn.
Photo by Austin McAllister
Sure, you can cobble together a workable assortment of pots, pans and dishes from 99 Cent stores, but once you decide to grow up, it’s time to pay a visit to A Cook’s Companion. The Atlantic Avenue store carries everything the budding foodie or die-hard chef could ever desire, from a full set of Wusthof knives to Le Creuset enameled cast-iron cookware. And who doesn’t need a strawberry huller or a 3-in-1 folding grater?
197 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights.
This place definitely gets points for decoration—aesthetic is half the fun of candy stores, after all—with its immaculately white shop and color-coded candy selection. But they also won our hearts this fall when a series of candy thefts prompted them to hire a burly security team. We’re glad things have calmed down, but also will never get sick of the mental image of “candy security guards.”
254 Baltic Street, South Brooklyn.
It’s not only the excellent selection and knowledgeable staff that make Windsor Terrace’s Juice Box the best wine store in Brooklyn—there are also so many other things that the people behind Juice Box do to make it a special place in a community sorely lacking in retail options. Juice Box hosts frequent tastings, music events, and involves itself in the neighborhood by doing things like sponsoring kids’ sports teams and donating to the local public school’s PTA. The owners are Windy T residents and their dedication to the neighborhood is evident and appreciated by all who frequent the store.
1289 Prospect Avenue, Windsor Terrace.
Don’t get us wrong: we love places like Breukelen Bier Merchants, Brouwerij Lane and especially, given their longtime commitment to the craft-beer movement, Park Slope’s Bierkraft. But the little known First Place Provisions on Court Street in Carroll Gardens offers an even more gratifying, if slightly confusing, experience. The perimeter of the store is lined from floor to ceiling with a crazy selection of craft beers, ranging from the usual suspects to some of the more freakout-worthy rare stuff. The stock is constantly rotated and refreshed with the newest releases and freshest bottles—impressive considering the store’s relatively low profile. Prices are generally reasonable, and you can even forgive them the slight gouging on that one particularly rare beer they inexplicably still have behind the counter.
414 Court Street, South Brooklyn.
This Bay Ridge spot closely curates its stock, which is more than you can say for most liquor shops. The wine selection is excellent, but we’re often just as impressed by the spirits: here you can find Bombay Sapphire, sure, but also local selections like Breuckelen and Greenhook, plus other varieties from around the country and globe chosen not for their mainstream name-recognition but for their taste and quality.
7917 Fifth Avenue, Bay Ridge.
No one makes a practice of traversing the borough in order to shop at a particular bodega. Essentially, the best bodega in Brooklyn is whichever one is closest to you, that you can reliably hit up at any time of day or night for 50-cent bags of Funyon’s, semi-dented cans of creamed corn, and dusted-over jars of Heinz Homestyle Gravy. But Hana Food in Williamsburg does the run-of-the-mill minimart one better, offering an extensive selection of intriguingly named sandwiches (like the Try Me Beeyotch, with egg white, spinach turkey, basil, and avocado on a wrap, or the Camel Killer with roast beef, brie cheese, basil, tomato and honey mustard on a baguette) that won’t commit you to hanging over a toilet 24 hours later.
534 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg.
Photo by David Gettens
Although we so envy anyone that lives close enough to pop into TJ’s for a carton of goat milk and a bag of wasabi trail mix, ours is a once-a-month trip. But trolling the aisles of Key Food on the regular gives us an even greater appreciation of the insane value and quality to be found at Trader’s. While four plastic bags filled with Cheerios, Cracker Barrel cheese, and plastic-wrapped, deli-case mystery meat always seems to cost us upwards of $200, the same amount spent at TJ’s garners us enough goodies to fill all three rows of our Dodge Grand Caravan. We also love that, when we sent an email to HQ in Monrovia, CA, requesting the addition of almond croissants to their easy-bake pastry line, they were there in the case the next time we showed up. Coincidence? We like to think not.
130 Court Street, South Brooklyn.
Lots of Brooklyn java joints flout the fact that they carry Crop to Cup coffee, but why not go right to the source? And we don’t mean East Africa (although that would be hella awesome), we’re talking about Gowanus. The Third Avenue location serves as Crop to Cup’s importing office, coffee equipment and supply shop, pour-over brew bar, and espresso café, and is the ideal place to purchase freshly roasted beans to go. Try the lemongrass- and tobacco-scented Kapchorwa; the chocolaty, fruity Buginyanya; or the smooth and spicy Bunorwa, all sourced directly from small-scale African farmers.
541 Third Avenue, Suite A, Gowanus.
When we need the funk, gotta have that funk, we head straight to Stinky. This intimate Carroll Gardens dairy shop-cum-sprawling specialty foods store has it all… most notably, upwards of 150 different wheels and hunks and logs and pots of cows, sheep, and goats milk cheeses, both super fresh and long aged, from artisan dairy farmers in Upstate New York to award-winning cheesemongers in the South of France.
215 Smith Street, South Brooklyn.
We like nuts on everything. We like nuts on ice cream. We like nuts on salads. We like nuts on pasta. We like to eat nuts by themselves. We can’t get enough nuts. Our love of nuts might be a problem if not for the Nut Box. The Nut Box is exactly what you’d think it is—a place that sells nuts—and that’s all it really needs to be. Because what kind of nut do you want? They have it. They have nuts that you didn’t even know you want. It’s a beautiful thing.
163 Smith Street, South Brooklyn.
We’ve subjected ourselves to numerous side-by-side taste tests to confirm our previous declaration that this tiny Bay Ridge sweet shop makes the best chocolates in NYC… nay, the world. Believe it. And you don’t even need to have a particularly trained palate, or super-sensitive tastebuds, to identify the various fruits and liquors and extracts and flavorings used in each exquisite candy. As Willy Wonka famously said, the strawberries taste of stawberries. The snozzberries taste of snozzberries. You get the picture. And by the way… their $2 hot chocolate shot? We’re pretty sure it’s 100 percent pure melted chocolate with whipped cream on top.
278 87th Street, Bay Ridge.
This large 24-hour pharmacy on Fifth Avenue is right in the middle of a major transit hub, which means you could get there easily if you had to even if you didn’t live right there, whether it was to fill a late-night prescription, peruse its large selection of natural bath and beauty products, to window shop for toys—there’s a whole second floor! Just for toys!—or to admire the old neon sign blazing in the dark of night.
454 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope.
There are plenty of hybrid commercial places in Brooklyn—bars combined with flower shops, bars combined with movie theaters, bars combined with, well, lots of stuff—but rarely has a combo made so much sense as the one employed by Windsor Terrace’s Juice Pedaler. Part juice bar and part bike store/rental, Pedaler is located right across the street from Prospect Park and is able to take advantage of the current craze for both cycling and juicing. It also offers coffee and pastries for the more caffeine-oriented among us, but their most genius move is offering special juice blends that are supposed to be mixed with alcohol. Because juice is great, but it’s even better spiked with bourbon. Just don’t ride your bike after drinking. That’s all we ask.
154 Prospect Park Southwest, Windsor Terrace.