by The Voice

Best Accessory Store – M Sonii
If you skimmed the boutiques of Nolita for the choicest knickknacks, cut the prices in half, and added a pinch of exotic flavor, what you’d get is M Sonii, an Aladdin’s cave of one-of-a-kind treasures handcrafted by local designers. Materials from Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines end up as raw-silk satchels embroidered with beads or ’50s-style rickrack-edged handbags. Delicate beaded and fringed purses are fit for a modern-day flapper, diamanté hair combs for a night on the town. Jewelry (the venetian-glass bracelets took my fancy), hats and scarves, and a limited but stylish bit of clothing round out the picture. -J. Yeh

220 East 9th Street, Manhattan 212-253-6464

Best Bags – La Sirena
Along with hundreds of traditional Mexican artifacts like painted clay dolls, decorated mirrors, and carved wildlife figures, the most stylish and practical bags in this city hang at La Sirena and sell for between $10 and $50. Owner Dina Leor Isaacson travels to Mexico twice a year to buy the handmade bags, some of hard plastic, others a cross of materials called palma plastica (plastic palm), and all in bright colors. There are baskets and handbags in several sizes and styles—the best of which are the traditional market bags used throughout Mexico. -Emma Pearse

27 East 3rd Street, Manhattan 212-780-9113

Best by-the-Pound Shopping – Domsey
Ever wonder what makes those hipsters in Williamsburg so hip? Wish you could achieve similar levels of hipocity? Well, grab your black-rim nonprescriptions and blaze a trail to Domsey, where you’re sure to find plenty of cool stuff that you’ll never see anyone else wearing. But a fair warning to those of you who think underwear and bras should have a “bin” of their own: You might want to stick with some of the city’s fancier spots (like the Salvation Army). Sifting through last year’s piss-stained pajamas to find a relic from the ’70s is no walk in the park, but no one said being hip was easy. -Chris Bosch

431 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn 718-384-6000

Best Place for Cheap Non-Thrift-Shop Clothes – H&M
H&M is ultracheap without giving you that “I’m poor, life stinks” feeling one often experiences at Kmart or Bradlees. Too bad it’s so crowded you can’t see the chic white walls or get near the comfortable fitting rooms. Oh, well. The prices make up for it—an endless variety of narrow coats, skinny skirts, fake Prada pants, Chloe-esque dresses, and even makeup and lingerie, in the dreamed-of under-$25 category, and accessories for even less. -Lynn Yaeger

640 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan 212-489-0390

Best Place to Buy Pants If You’re a Short Dame – NYC Flava
Our family gatherings are like pygmy assemblies. Everyone’s short and has complexes. Like Meemaw, my tippling grandmother who thundered, “No more Gap Kids novelty pants,” after a round of Blue Motorcycles and some bathtub gin. Still, the crazy lady’s got a point. She also has an option—NYC Flava. Aside from its dim-witted faux hipstress name, this cheapie boutique is a playground for height-stunted damsels who’ve been tortured into stuffing hips and rears into little girls’ pants just because they don’t need hemming. My well-worn Flava buys from last season include $20 black low-slung hiphuggers embellished with silver glitter (think Laundry by Shelli Segal); $19.99 rock-glam hot pants inspired by Stella McCartney’s Chloe; and tie-dyed stretch jeans, also $19.99 (St. Vincent’s version goes for $165). Bring tall friends along to hold your purse. -Nita Rao

722 Broadway, Manhattan 212-358-7892

Best Place to Shop If You’re a Japanese Hipster – Air Market
Are you obsessed with Japanese style mags like Cutie? Head for Air Market, a tiny nook stocked with stickers, tchotchkes, and casual wear imported from the Land of the Rising Sun, all emblazoned with bizarre cartoon characters that kick Hello Kitty’s furry ass. You know you can’t live without a Mr. Friendly toothbrush mug, a Bolo-Dog cell-phone holster, or a Pochacco pencil case; unnamed deer, hamsters, and bunnies cavort freakily over the other wares. -J. Yeh

97 Third Avenue, Manhattan 212-995-5888

Best Place tor Clothes to Wear to Work – Club Monaco
The bitter pill of work clothes can be made more palatable with the purchase of some of Club Monaco’s slightly twisted classics, which include tweed parkas, gabardine skirts, respect- able-looking jackets, and white cotton blouses. Whoever is designing this stuff has a shrewd eye for knocking off the best ideas of Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein and other far pricier houses. -Lynn Yaeger

520 Broadway and many other locations, Manhattan 212-941-1511

Best Vintage Clothing Store If You’re an Extra in an Austin Powers Movie – Cherry
Everything but the bouffant hairdo is provided at Cherry, which carries a groovy bunch of mod-tastic footwear like emerald Chelsea boots, faux leopard slingbacks, and gold lamé kitten heels. Felicity Shagwell could wear its fluffy pink mules in her boudoir, while the red, white, and blue pumps (with matching geometric purse) scream Quadrophenia. Plenty of boxy pastel handbags, go-go boots, and Pucci prints ensure you’ll look dead pacey (as Lynn Redgrave says in the ’60s madcap Smashing Time!). You’ll need a major-studio budget to get costumed here; powder blue T-straps, for instance, run $225. -J. Yeh

185 Orchard Street, Manhattan 212-358-7131

Best Vintage Clothing Store If You’re an Extra in an Austin Powers Movie – Cherry
Everything but the bouffant hairdo is provided at Cherry, which carries a groovy bunch of mod-tastic footwear like emerald Chelsea boots, faux leopard slingbacks, and gold lamé kitten heels. Felicity Shagwell could wear its fluffy pink mules in her boudoir, while the red, white, and blue pumps (with matching geometric purse) scream Quadrophenia. Plenty of boxy pastel handbags, go-go boots, and Pucci prints ensure you’ll look dead pacey (as Lynn Redgrave says in the ’60s madcap Smashing Time!). You’ll need a major-studio budget to get costumed here; powder blue T-straps, for instance, run $225. -J. Yeh

185 Orchard Street, Manhattan 212-358-7131

Best Lingerie Shop If You’re Kate Moss – Ripplu
When my friend Anna was 16, she bought her first bra (Calvin Klein—smallest cups of any major brand). For the next several years it was her only bra, despite tireless shopping, because she couldn’t find any others that fit. If only she’d known about Ripplu, a Japanese establishment specializing in lingerie for the small-busted. Prices are a bit steep, but when the alternative is a Jockey for Her nylon “bralette,” who wouldn’t shell out $37 for a dainty silk number trimmed with crimson lace? -J. Yeh

575 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan 212-599-2223

Best Place for Designer Bargains – Century 21
The toasts of the continent—Galliano and Gaultier, Valentino and Versace—end up at Century 21 after languishing unsold for months on the shelves of tony boutiques. (Fall ’99 is on the racks now.) Wait on the endless line for one of the horse-stall-like fitting rooms, or better yet, take everything home, try it on, laugh, and return most of it. -Lynn Yaeger

22 Cortlandt Street, Manhattan 212-227-9092

Best Candy Store for Grown-Up Girls – Sephora
The sweet treats of beauty emporium Sephora may prove just as perilous to a girl’s pocketbook as chocolates do to her curves and complexion. This palace of pulchritude offers seemingly every confection under the sun, from the shamelessly luxe ($160 for a bottle of Quelques Roses by Parfums Clare) to the unabashedly low-end ($3.50 for a crimson lip-liner). The beauty part: Every product has a tester tube or bottle on the floor and each aisle terminates with a shelf of cotton balls, tissues, Q-tips, and cleanser—a girl may sample to her heart’s content. Yummy. Various locations throughout the city. -Alexis Soloski

Various locations throughout the city.

Best Store to Stock Up on Lifetime Supplies of Free Samples – Kiehl’s Since 1851
Betrothed as she is to the yummy Frank, my fetching friend Keira still turns grown men into groveling sissy boys with just one toss of blond hair. Her slaying prowess being legend, I begged for a tutorial. She sent me to KIEHL’S SINCE 1851 instead, where I collected the accoutrements of torture every vixen needs. Pick the potions that catch your fancy and get trial-size versions (“Creme With Silk Groom,” “Extra-Strength Conditioning Rinse With Added Coconut,” which smells fruity enough to drink, and “Ultra Facial Moisturizer”), gratis. As a girl of paltry means, I’ve never paid for anything at Kiehl’s. No need to ration freebies—just go back for more. -Nita Rao

109 Third Avenue, Manhattan 212-677-3171

Best Bizarro Fragrance Store – Demeter Fragrances
A modern-day Cerberus (a great big mutt with a studded collar) guards the gates of Demeter Fragrances, a heaven of strange scents. Alongside the fairly traditional flacons of damask rose and sandalwood stand bottles labeled “Angel Food,” “Whiskey Tobacco,” and “Mildew.” These scents flavor eaux de toilette, lotions, oils, and gels. Precious few smell nice, but they’re all suprisingly evocative, producing a wave of synesthesia for the wearer. And that result probably satisfies Demeter just fine. -Alexis Soloski

83 Second Avenue, Manhattan 212-505-1535

Best If-Money-Can’t-Buy-Me-Love-It-Can-Sure-as-Hell-Buy-Me-This Establishment – Creed on Bond
Since 1760, the gentlemen of the Creed family have passed down the perfumer’s secrets from father to son. Now that Olivier Creed, the sixth of his line, has set up shop in New York, Gothamites are making the pilgrimage to Noho for the privilege of imitating Audrey Hepburn, Oscar Wilde, even Napoleon III and having one’s own fragrance created. At Creed on Bond for the very princely sum of up to $20,000, Olivier Creed will sire a unique perfume based on the client’s predilections and desires. And for those who feel such monies might be better spent upon a house, car, or the feeding of droves of small children in the sub-Saharan, Creed now offers a collection of its exquisite, indelible vintage scents for approximately $140 for 2.5 fluid ounces. -Alexis Soloski

9 Bond Street, Manhattan 212-228-1940

Best Blowouts – Chic Elegance / Astor Place Hair Stylists / Hair Mates Hair Salon
On a continuum of bliss, the home blowout ranks somewhere between scabies and watching The Maury Show. So it was epic last year when, at the height of stick-straight-hair mania, our curly sisterhood dismantled to go the lemming route. For 30 minutes every other day, we’d sweat before mirrors, round brushes in one hand, blow-dryers in the other, tugging and flattening the waves. It got so beastly that we decided to invest in the professional blowout. You should, too. For $20, Sylvia at Chic Elegance in Carroll Gardens (311 Court Street, 718-625-1061) stretched every curl into gossamer silk. Maybe it was the straightening iron, but my hair’s never looked so smashing. Another plus: It stayed put for three whole days. Astor Place Hair Stylists (2 Astor Place, 475-9854) can provide Frederick Fekkai talent at drive-thru prices. Blowouts start at $15 and appointments aren’t necessary. If you sprout coarse, ropy waves, then Hair Mates Hair Salon (2 St. Marks Place, 777-4612) is your Havana. For $30 and up, the specialists here will reincarnate your Medusa locks into hair so pin-thin straight you’ll gawk in every passing mirror. -Nita Rao

Manhattan

Best Dressing Room – Ghost
The antithesis of all things cramped, fluorescent, and sterile, the well-appointed fitting rooms at Ghost exceed even the most elevated expectations. You will find a plushly upholstered chaise and an elegant vanity table atop which rest a three-way mirror and a vase of fresh flowers. And—as the wall-size mirror is surrounded by a halo of gentle, perfectly calibrated light—the fitting room will also hold a beautifully complected, lustrous-haired, pre-Raphaelite damsel: in other words, you. -Alexis Soloski

28 Bond Street, Manhattan 646-602-2891

Best Expensive Department Store for End-of-Season Bargains – Saks Fifth Avenue
Just when you can’t bear your winter coat or bathing suit another second, the high-toned stores put their stuff on final, final markdown. So January and July are the months to venture uptown and peruse the sale racks at the surprisingly unintimidating Saks Fifth Avenue, a store with an added virtue: They will cheerfully take back anything you’ve changed your mind about, long after you should have made up your mind. -Lynn Yaeger

611 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan 212-753-4000

Best Headshop Strip – 8th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues
You’ll have to blow past racks of Marilyn Manson tees, dog collars, and candy-raver accessories to get to the pot paraphernalia. But at least the half-dozen garish outlets clumped along 8th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues allow for easy comparisons and white lies ’bout prices negotiated next door. Must visit: Funk Plus Inc. (24 West 8th Street, 505-5016), where the clerk named Mijan somehow surmised that this reporter was buying a piece for his (nonexistent) girlfriend, and requested she come in so he could “help” her instead. Which wasn’t as charming as his Hindi-accented rendition of an old Ozzy chestnut: “I SEEEEEEEEEE YOUUUUUU!” -Nick Catucci

Manhattan

Best Street-Vending Strip – Brooklyn’s Fulton Street
Nostalgic for pre-Giuliani days, when street vendors beautified the concrete of 125th Street? Well, dream no more—outdoor shopping thrives on Brooklyn’s Fulton Street, where flags of every black nation line the avenue. Side-by-side immigrants in traditional garb from Africa, India, and the West Indies offer an array of merchandise and culture, from CDs, electronics, phones, socks, and bags to incense, oils, and handmade jewelry and sandals. Art lovers can bask in the surrealism of the sculptures hand-carved by the dreds on the strip. You want it; you’ll get it here! Not only is the experience aesthetically and spiritually invigorating, but prices are dirt cheap. A CD selling at Tower Records for $18 can be purchased here for 10 bucks. Can you dig it? Take the A train to the Nostrand Avenue stop in Brooklyn. -Adamma Ince

Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn

Best Flea – The weekend market at 26th Street and Sixth Avenue
The weekend market at 26th Street and Sixth Avenue is still the best, though the rapidly changing neighborhood, which has already lost two lots to construction, may bite the dust any day now. As with flea markets the world over, the same rules apply: Get there early, bring cash, bargain (nicely). Make sure to visit the Garage, a dank two-story space just west of Sixth on 25th Street. -Lynn Yaeger

26th Street and Sixth Avenue, Manhattan

Best Cigar Shop – P.B. Cuban Cigars
Suits perpetually hotbox P.B. Cuban Cigars with Havana-grade stogie smoke, the likes of which you’d otherwise find only in Miami. The Cuban-seed tobacco is grown in the Dominican Republic and superbly hand-rolled behind the counter in an array of traditional estilos. And cheap—$2 to 6 apiece! A friend found an as-good black-market smoke for less on a Havana street, but apparently there’s some embargo on. -Nick Catucci

137 West 22nd Street, Manhattan 212-367-8949

Best Combined Business – The Bee & the Buttercup
While some East Village­ites still mourn the passing of Rescued Estates—a peculiar boîte that specialized in gourmet ice cream and preowned furniture—the cradle of gentrification still boasts a number of shops satisfying charmingly diverse consumer needs. There’s a store on Avenue A where you can shop for gourmet goodies while your month’s worth of laundry courses through its spin cycle, and we all owe our thanks to the entrepreneur who dreamed up the Two Boots pizza-and-video hybrid. But my vote for best goes to the Bee & the Buttercup. At this wicker-laden florist and confectionery, caramel-praline truffles rub shoulders with cream-colored roses, iced cakes idle with gerbera daisies. A decadent’s dream. -Alexis Soloski

138 East 3rd Street, Manhattan 212-254-6955

Best Foreign Newsstand for Delirious Magazine Addicts – Asahiya Bookstore
Brush aside worries of your inability to read kanji script once you step inside Asahiya Bookstore, a storehouse for Japanese expats looking for a literary piece of home. In their magazine section, you can find everything from manga comics to the latest Nippon Vogue. Style devotees on the hunt for how things are done back East can find armloads of mags with names like Cutie, Mini, and H that scream with photos of Nipponese gamines and their phat outfits. Considering the dour state of our materialistic asses, where innovative street fashion pretty much stops at Nikes, the hyperactive, bubbly tone of these tomes is energizing and inspiring, not to mention addictive. -José Germosén

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, Manhattan 212-883-0011

Best Used Book Store – Book Ark
Upper West Sided but suitably subterranean, the five-year-old Book Ark offers an impressively deep collection, consistently offering titles more beautiful for being less obvious. As astonishing as the jewels-to-junk ratio is the fact that the jewels (there is no junk) are priced to move. And so, two-by-two I have purchased them, books I didn’t even know I wanted: Gombrowicz’s Pornografia and Cosmos; Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros and Maeterlinck’s The Life of the White Ant; two (well, five, actually) volumes from Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time; Donnelly’s Atlantis and Mathews’s The Sinking of Odradek Stadium; The Enormous Room and The Narrow Corner. At the upper end, my wife bought me an 1887 The Anatomy of Melancholy for an undisclosed sum, but treasures have been had at the four-bits/one-dollar level (check out the box by the door). For a measly 15 clams I could have added Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition to my library, but I hesitated, citing “prudence.” . . . Next visit, it was gone; reader, what was I thinking? -Ed Park

173 West 81st Street, Manhattan 212-787-3914

Best Place to Browse Artists’ Books – Printed Matter, Inc.
I like to mosey around Printed Matter, Inc. in the afternoon, picking up odd little artists’ books, glossier hardcovers, and attractive zines, rifling through the audio assortment, and looking at reprinted Fluxus games. This is a nonprofit organization and bookstore dedicated to the book as art form, and specializing in the distribution of artists’ publications, books, periodicals, posters—any printed matter. It represents over 3500 international artists a year and is the largest bookstore of its kind in the world. They have an open submission policy and will review any “booklike” artwork in an edition of 100 or more. There is usually some sort of exhibition or window installation up as well—this summer the walls were plastered with Sonic Youth T-shirts, posters, album covers, and zines. -Dana Turken

77 Wooster Street, Manhattan 212-925-0325

Place to Drop $100 on Japanese Candy for Your Nieces – Sunrise Market
My nieces in Oregon are dedicated followers of fashion. I am a food addict. To appease the demons in us both and anybody else like us, I suggest making a habit out of Japanese delight store Sunrise Market. How do I choose between the melon, lemon, or strawberry ice syrups? How many shapes of cookies that can be dipped into chocolate exist? Who cares? I’m buying them all, including sodas with Simpsons stickers, cola-flavored cotton candy that turns into gum, and nonfood treasures like chopsticks, incense, CDs, magazines, and more, more, more. The best thing may be the incredible packaging—everything looks as if it were gift- wrapped. -Andrew Aber

4 Stuyvesant Street, 2nd floor (above St. Mark’s B, Manhattan 212-598-3040

Best Gourmet Food Emporium – East Village Cheese
East Village Cheese. What’s all this then? An extensive—not expensive—cornucopia of cheeses from round the world. $2.99/lb. “superspecials” rotate often and may include Spanish tetilla, Hungarian tilsit, and Danish lappi, while Brie costs $2 per generous wedge. Assorted chevres and fetas, fresh mozzarella and ricotta, mascarpone, and crème fraîche also star. So it’s a cheese store? Mais non! More like a shoebox Balducci’s at Kmart prices. Smoked salmon, pâtés, six varieties of olives, cornichons, pine nuts, prosciutto, balsamic vinegars, and olive oils . . . I haven’t got room for it all. Let’s go! -J. Yeh

40 Third Avenue, Manhattan 212-477-2601

Coolest 24-Hour Supermarket – Pathmark

Just when you thought the whole Fort Greene/Park Slope vibe couldn’t get any cooler, Pathmark supermarket takes grocery shopping to the next level. Just how cool can buying groceries be? Peep this. Around 1 a.m., the music changes from classical to Motown and hip-hop. Artists and other night owls stroll, conversing with each other about neighborhood goings-on while picking up items from the fully stocked deli, pharmacy, and video-rental sections. Such delicacies as precooked shrimp cocktail, lobster tails, and rotisserie chicken are available 24-7 for those who get the munchies in the wee hours. Watch the butcher trim a fresh, thick sirloin while grooving to DMX’s “Y’all goin’ make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.” It’s shopping with flavor and everybody’s “feelin’ ” it. -Adamma Ince

625 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn 718-399-6161

Best Way to Force Yourself to Cook – Urban Organic
For about $29 a week, Urban Organic will deliver a big box of 16 to 20 kinds of excellent organically grown fruit and vegetables to your doorstep—whatever’s good and in season, basically. (They always include citrus, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes, and for some reason they seem inordinately fond of kale and chard.) And then you have all this produce in your fridge, and you have to cook it or it’ll go bad. Before you know it, you’ll be a master chef, just to avoid the crushing guilt that rotting collard greens bring on. -Douglas Wolk

Manhattan 718-499-4321

Best Pet Store – PETCO
Remember that great-aunt of yours? The one with the smeared lipstick and the mothball smell who mercilessly grabbed your cheeks and told you how much you’ve grown since the last time I saw you, pet, you were this tall? Fed up with years of torture, you finally tell her not to call you “pet” and send her to hell, the family goes into crisis, the aunt is heartbroken, you are shunned at Christmas dinner. Not to panic, the solution has come. Don’t send your rubbery aunt to hell. Call her over for tea and explain the situation: Pets are your friends, pets don’t care if you yank their ears and stretch their cheeks; if you wrestle and play lasso one, two, three, four with them, they enjoy it. You are not her pet, but you know where she can get one and buy toys for it—PETCO at Union Square. Two floors of fake logs for snakes, guinea-pig bottles, hummingbird feeders, kitty cabanas, star-shaped catnip bags, rubber ducks, sticky paws, green fluorescent bells for birds—and there’s even a pet adoption center on the premises. -Camila Gamboa

860 Broadway, Manhattan 212-358-0692

Best Place to Buy China and Flatware as a Twentysomething – Fishs Eddy
For well-nigh every young adult, the sad day eventually arrives when paper plates, plastic forks, and souvenir mugs from one’s alma mater no longer suffice. Upon that fateful hour, fly to Fishs Eddy for its distinctive and reasonably priced selection of place settings, pie servers, and pasta plates galore. It has serving dishes rescued from the Taku Glacier lodge in Juneau, Alaska, platters from the Range Steakhouse, Glo-Tan bowls, and bubble-glass milk bottles. In addition to vintage items, Fishs stocks its own line of dinner plates adorned with scenes of the Manhattan skylines, polka dots, or cartoony portraits, and also sells Cynthia Rowley’s playful stab at dishware—a collection rimmed with hats and shoes in girly-girl brights. Bring on the dinner parties. -Alexis Soloski

889 Broadway, Manhattan 212-420-9020

Best Place to Buy Home Accessories for Your Commercially Zoned Loft – Real Form Girdle Factory Mall
Creatively twisting the notion of a “mall,” entrepreneur George Mansfield came up with the brilliant idea of creating a hot little shopping plaza smack dab on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. This hipster mecca, known as the Real Form Girdle Factory Mall, comprises a comic book/toy store, yoga center, record store, art gallery, furniture store, glass and ceramic shop, and mini­computer center (with free Internet access). It’s got basically everything a Williamsburg hepcat needs, except cheap legal advice for when City Hall comes a-knockin’ on your door. -David Shawn Bosler

218 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn

Best Source of Knickknacks and Collectibles for Kitsch-Crazed Queens – Howdy Do
Child, if you’re like me, you probably see Barbarella, Michelangelo Antonioni movies, and old Aaron Spelling television miniseries occupying the same cultural hemisphere. Howdy Do, the cozy little collectibles shop in the East Village, would do much for that inner fishy child inside you. It’s filled wall-to-wall with scores of fabulous little remnants of American junk culture. Weeble Wobbles and other toys of the ’60s and ’70s share space with the ne’er-seen Blythe doll. Stacks of Margaret Keane’s paintings of impossibly doe-eyed children rest against one wall, books and magnets of Colt muscle models and vintage lunchboxes line the other. It’s stunning to see this much stuff crammed into one space. -Jose Germosen

72 East 7th Street, Manhattan 212-979-1618

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