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Shops Around the Corner

Shopping in Brooklyn can be a unique experience, each store its own world staffed by the designer/owner/manager who’s set up shop.  Going into the final week before Christmas, I decided to do a quick tour of my favorites looking for housewares and kitchen gadgets, preferably utilitarian but with something more.  After all, if they’re pouring out the same 1/2 cup of milk, why shouldn’t measuring cups come shaped like matryoshka nesting dolls or salt and pepper shakers as penguins for that matter?  Here’s what I found:

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store (365 State Street, Brooklyn, 718.522.9848):  I miss Five & Dime Stores.  Technically, I missed them by about 20 years except that there was one last hold-out where we used to beg my grandparents to take us.  If I was a kid now, I’d probably beg them to take me to the Blue Ribbon General Store.  It’s the perfect mix.  Spy glasses, candy dots and lady bug tea sets alongside wine bottle thermometers ($12.95) and wool and cashmere shampoo ($18).  Thinking practically, I could use the 6-piece nesting bowl set ($34) though I have to admit that my heart raced when I saw the 6+ Playful Chef cooking set ($39.99).  If I could add it to my Christmas list in 1981, I would.

Exit 9 (127 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718.422.7720)

If the pristine stores along Court Street were sixties girl-groups, Exit 9 would be The Shirelles, sweet with a drape edge.  They always have a handful of the cool kids cookbooks to flip through and changing selection of essential kitchen gadgets like a gun-shaped egg fryer ($8), Divide & Pepper shakers ($10), and Bombs Away shot glass ($22).  My personal favorite is the Oh Snap! Moustrap Cheese Slicer ($14.99).  Not that I suggest springing a trap on your guests, but would if hurt if they think you just might?

Jonathan Adler (378 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718.855.0017):

According to their manifesto, colors can’t clash, tassels are the earrings of the home, minimalism is a bummer and happiness is chic.  At their Atlantic Avenue store, they prove it because you can’t stop smiling from the moment you walk in.  The pop menagerie ornaments make porcelain cuddly ($24-28), the elephant bottle topper wears its heart on its tail ($18), and the whale butter dish make you want to crawl inside ($68).

Of course if none of these work, there are alternatives (Dolls Canisters, $28).

The Future Perfect, (115 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718.599.6278):

Though they have a location in Brooklyn, I first came across them in their temporary Chelsea Market pop-up store.  Fortunately, they put it where I would definitely find it, directly behind the Jacques Torres.  While it’s only a small selection from their store, the items seem to vibrate as though emitting seussian brain waves.  It’s easy to see why a perfect future might include Jason Miller’s Seconds dinner and desert plates ($90-$132, set of 4), Science Series glassware ($56-356), and a maison serving dish from Access Paris designed by P. Martinez ($45).

Fork & Pencil (221A Court Street, Brooklyn, 718.488.8855):

Finally, the store closes to home hits closest to home.  A combination of antiques, jewelery, books, stationary and toys, all profits go to support local charities.  I love looking through their well-chosen vintage housewares and I’m always surprised of how affordable everything is.  It’s a reminder that however ornate or decorative they seem now, they were meant to be lived with.

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