Just about every major retail chain, it seems, has a store in the Flatiron District, which certainly makes life convenient for residents. But there are numerous places to shop for uncommon goods as well. For starters, just about every weekend year-round at the Chelsea Flea Market (West 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue), up to 135 dealers sell antique and vintage apparel, furnishings, jewelry, and collectibles. A number of local, independent stores also make the neighborhood their home, including those listed below.
19 West 21st Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
Every day is Halloween at this shop, which sells and rents costumes that range from scary to saucy. Whether it is a beaded flapper dress for a Gatsby party or a steampunk hat for a day at Comic Con, Abracadabra is certain to have it. The shop offers a full line of specialty cosmetics, wigs, and prosthetics too—even contact lenses that will turn your irises pink or your entire sclera red. The store also sells and rents props and decorations. The next time you plan an elaborate theme party, this should be one of your first stops.
18 West 18th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
A visit here will have even the most reluctant young readers eager to get lost in a good book. The store carries picture books, chapter books, and young-adult books, both classic and contemporary. Collectors and adults who have fond memories of whiling away afternoons at the local library will delight in the limited-edition, rare, and vintage editions of their former favorites and in browsing the gallery of posters and original children’s-book art. The gallery is also where Books of Wonder hosts its numerous book signings, launch parties, and other free events.
889 Broadway (at 19th Street)
Fishs Eddy began in 1986 as a small shop selling vintage and overstock restaurant ware. Today it also sells its own line of tableware, in designs that are as charmingly retro as the table settings of a 1950s diner. Barware, serveware, dish towels, cookware, trays, storage, and quirky decorative items make up the rest of the merchandise mix, which is displayed on shelves, on tables, and in crates and barrels, giving the shop a country-store-meets-city-flea-market vibe.
60 West 15th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
Kidding Around is a respite from the plastic, electronic, and easily destroyed toys on display at most chain stores. For babies there are wooden rattles that resemble frogs and plush birds to dangle from a stroller. Toddlers will delight in wooden blocks, balancing toys, and some of the cutest dollhouse families you will ever see. Older kids will clamor for the shop’s puppets, kits to create clay dinosaurs and origami animals, board games, chemistry sets, puzzles, and plush pillows that look like bacon or bananas. In addition to toys such as Raggedy Ann dolls that you might remember from your own childhood, you will find toys—the Loog Pro guitar with app, perhaps?—that you will wish you had.
867 Broadway (at 18th Street)
Name a sport, and chances are Paragon sells the equipment and apparel you need for it. Badminton racquets, carabiners for climbing, golf putters, hockey sticks, in-line skates, ski bindings, wetsuits, wrestling shoes, yoga mats… This 50,000-square-foot store really is a one-stop shop.Those who prefer to look the part of an athlete than actually engage in a sport can buy parkas, hoodies, sweaters, sneakers, and boots from such well-regarded brands as Barbour, Canada Goose, Merrill, North Face, and Timberland. Among the numerous in-store services are a gait analysis to help ensure you choose the optimal running shoe, racket stringing, baseball-glove breaking in and repairs, and skate-blade sharpening. Once you step inside, you will understand how this family business has managed to thrive since its founding in 1908.
40 West 25th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
Located in the Showplace Antique & Design Center, this jewel box of a shop sells vintage jewelry and accessories, as well as jewelry designed by owner Alison Woodward and handcrafted from vintage materials. Reverie is a fabulous resource for brides in need of “something old” to complete their wedding-day ensemble or for anyone in search of, say, a diamond-studded Art Deco platinum ring, a cloisonné floral bracelet enhanced with pearls, an Edwardian filigree necklace, or a one-of-a-kind necklace made with Victorian jet, 1930s glass, and 1980s decoupaged beads.
1133 Broadway (at 26th Street)
Rizzoli bills itself as “the most beautiful bookstore in New York”; it might be one of the most beautiful in the world. Located on the ground floor of the 19th-century St. James Building, the 5,000-square-foot store features 18-foot ceilings, cherrywood bookcases, and ethereal wallpaper panels designed by Fornasetti Milano exclusively for Rizzoli. All of this is perfectly appropriate for a store that specializes in lushly illustrated tomes about art, design, fashion, and photography. Rizzoli also sells fiction, cookbooks, children’s books, biographies, reference books, and general-interest books—in other words, the sort of works one would expect to find in an especially well curated neighborhood bookstore—along with music, films, stationery, and magazines.
933 Broadway (between 21st and 22nd Streets)
This kitchenware store caters both to experienced cooks looking for a slicer that will allow them to make their own waffle fries and to novices shopping for their first set of pots. The selection of knives alone includes those from Aritsugu, Kyocera, Schmidt Bros., Victorinox, and Wüsthof. Along with appliances, cookbooks, bakeware, and cookware, Whisk sells tableware, linens, serving pieces, and even picnic baskets. Mixologists will especially appreciate its comprehensive assortment of bitters and mixers.