Brooklyn’s individualist spirit is alive and well in the numerous independent boutiques of Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Cobble Hill. Producing an exhaustive list of entrepreneurial shops would be, well, exhausting—and given how frequently new stores arise where old stores once operated, any list would probably be quickly outdated. Below we have included a sampling of indie shops selling everything from apparel to tableware, furniture to toys, jewelry to bedding.
198 Smith Street (between Warren and Baltic Streets)
The creative professional woman is the target market of apparel and accessories boutique Article&. This is a woman who might wear a black double-breasted blazer with oversize buttons with a shirtwaist-style maxi dress and a handbag reminiscent of an old-school hatbox one day and with skinny jeans and a leather backpack the next. The Fifth Label, Jeffrey Campbell, and J.O.A. are among the better-known brands carried.
377A Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt Streets)
Pewter tableware by Match is among Collier West’s offerings. Image: Didriks/Flickr
The sheer quantity of home furnishings this bijou store manages to hold is impressive enough; the quality and beauty of the items is even more so. Careful curation is the key to Collier West’s success: A midcentury crystal chandelier might hover above a table handcrafted of reclaimed beams and iron; a pillow stitched from antique velvet ikat fabric from Uzbekistan might rest near a gleaming pewter picture frame made by Italian artisans; a John Derian decoupaged tray might sit atop a leather Moroccan pouf. In fact, Collier West did outgrow its main store; its annex at 375 Atlantic Avenue serves as a gallery, selling paintings, drawings, photography, and sculptures from local and global artists.
98 Smith Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street)
Except for the collection of vintage and antique jewelry—primarily cocktail rings and wedding bands—all the pieces sold here are also handcrafted here. It is difficult to narrow the jewelry down to a particular esthetic: For every pair of earrings sporting a cluster of dangling amethyst and sapphire teardrops, there is a hand-carved mother-of-pearl flower hanging from a delicate gold chain. Opals embellish cuff links; cameos are carved from blue agate. If you do not see anything you want, owner/jeweler Nisim will be happy to work with you to create your ideal piece.
360 Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt Streets)
An Erica Weiner necklace. Image: Heidi De Vries/Flickr
Like Elleven just a few blocks away, Erica Weiner offers antique, vintage, and original handcrafted jewelry. Its signature line, the 1909 Collection, is heavily inspired by antiques and features recycled gemstones. Other designs—pendants made of fossilized shark teeth trimmed in gold, slender diamond-studded snakes long enough to be threaded through multiple piercing, delicate gold bracelets punctuated with unrefined aquamarines—are more contemporary and tongue-in-cheek. Yet even the skull rings and the cicada earrings manage to appear just a few steps removed from dainty.
127 Smith Street (between Pacific and Dean Streets)
At the Boerum Hill companion shop of East Village gifts emporium Exit9, you are certain to find items you did not know existed—but now that you do know they exist, you will wonder how you lived without them. These include handcrafted copper-plated shot glasses that look like pineapples, a keychain that doubles as an iPhone and iPad charger, a cuff bracelet with a hidden flask, a magnetic hourglass… If shopping for gifts is not your forte, head here. It sells gift boxes unlike those seen in your typical catalog—the Prince Box, for instance, includes purple earbuds, a Prince coloring book for adults, and keychains, a pin, and a pouch adorned with images of the master musician. What’s more, the staff will help you put together a box of your own.
382 Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt Streets)
This boutique proves that sustainable fashion can also be quite chic. A fair portion of the women’s apparel is made of organic cotton; other items are made from recycled materials, by fair-trade organization, or by local artisans. The esthetic is more timeless than trendy: Think loose-fit silk shifts that effortlessly go from office to dinner, hand-knit cable sweaters from Peru, black tights made from recycled yarn, kimono-style tunics that can be worn with the buttons in the front or in the back. You can also buy the shoes, bags, and jewelry to complete your ensemble here, plus all-natural toiletries and even a smattering of home goods, such as handmade ceramic incense burners and tableware from New York-based Mquan.
352 Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt Streets)
Located on the same block as Kaight, this shop specializes in women’s apparel, home accessories, and jewelry crafted by artisans in India. Owner Alayne Patrick often works directly with the craftspeople to ensure that the products—many of them one of a kind—marry time-honored traditions and techniques to modern-day sensibilities. In addition to the house brand of floaty dresses, block-printed bedding, pashmina shawls, and jewelry gleaming with opals and agates, Layla sells products of a similar esthetic from such brands as Madeline Weinrib and Mia & Finn.
302 Court Street (between Kane and Degraw Streets)
Owner Néda Meier-Zebrowski prides herself on the careful curation of the women’s apparel and accessories she carries. Her Cobble Hill boutique (as well as her Park Slope outpost) is chock-a-block with covetable goods from local, independent, and well-known designers such as Alex + Ani, Nicole Miller, and Splendid. Néda also has a house line of wonderfully wearable apparel suitable for both work and play.
192 Amity Street (between Court and Clinton Streets)
The children’s apparel, accessories, and decor sold here are adorable without being overly precious or twee. Kids will love the bold colors and patterns of the Roller Rabbit pajamas, the Holly & Beau outerwear that changes color in the rain, and the rhinestone-studded T-shirts from Sparkle by Stoopher—and so will their parents. What’s more, those parents may find themselves wanting to buy a grinning shark pendulum clock, a luggage tag designed to look like a retro robot, or the cool art supplies for themselves.
372 Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt Streets)
The name of this home goods boutique is not meant to be taken literally. After all, for most of us, a brass plate by Danish design firm Skagerak crafted to sit under a raw-edge terracotta pot is not essential. Neither is a lavishly soft washed-linen tablecloth from Matteo, a trivet made of Carrara marble, or paper clips shaped like dogs. Then again, one could argue that products like these, minimalist in style but maximalist in luxuriousness, are essential to a lifestyle that emphasizes quality over quantity. Along with tableware, pillows, and other home accessories, the shop sells a selection of teas, spices, jewelry, fragrances, and beauty products as thoughtfully chosen as the rest of the offering.
331 Henry Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street)
A general store in Brooklyn? Granted, Tumbleweed does not sell burlap bags of horse feed and other downhome goods associated with traditional general stores, but it does sell a bit of just about everything, from on-trend parkas for toddlers to equally trendy knitwear for adults; retro-style paper dolls to bold cuffs shaped like bats; all-natural beard balms to artisanal chocolate bars. If you are prone to impulse buying, proceed with caution: There is a good chance you will love more than a handful of the wares.
419 Court Street (between Second and Third Places)
As its name suggests, Wanderlustre sources much of its home furnishings, jewelry, personal-care products, and gifts from around the world. At any given time you might find wood stools from Zimbabwe, handwoven baskets from Vietnam, agate platters from Brazil, and wittily baroque serveware from Italy. But the provenance of the goods is secondary to their quirky charm and offbeat allure. When you are in the market for a vinyl lamp that resembles a cactus, a candle in the highly detailed shape of St. Peter’s Basilica, or a golden crown made of porcelain, this is where to come.