One of my favorite things to do in the city is explore what I call “hidden gems”. And if you’ve been reading my blog for some time now you know this to be true.

Be it an artisanal bakery tucked into the lobby of an office building, a doughnut shop in a car wash, a hidden beach full of washed up “treasures”, a below-street-level Thai rolled ice cream joint, or a room full of dirt in a Soho loft, there’s just something extra special that comes with the feeling that you’ve “discovered” that next cool thing (along with every other reader of New York Magazine or Time Out New York, of course).

I’ve gathered up a few more finds and thought you might enjoy – whether you live here or are planning a visit soon. First up? Shopping!

hidden shops nyc

CW Pencil Enterprise
Caroline Weaver is a lifelong pencil lover and opened her little store on the Lower East Side in 2014:

“As simple as it may be, the pencil is something which despite advances in technology will never become obsolete.”

Caroline’s store is petite, charming and stocked with every manner of pencil (and sharpener, eraser and notebook) that you could possibly want. I got a multi-color pencil for Noah and a chalk pencil (genius!) for myself. Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Physical GraffiTea
Physical GraffiTea is a tea shop located in the East Village. Chelsea and I visited during a recent snowstorm, heading down a few steps from the street to a warm, cozy shop with one wall completely lined with every tea imaginable. We were schooled in the art of brewing loose tea leaves, and enjoyed a pot of the tea we were considering before we purchased. Facebook/Instagram

Oh and the name of the shop is not just a cute play on words. It’s housed in one of the pair of buildings that grace the cover of my fave Led Zeppelin album.

The Red Caboose
When I came across this article in the New York Times – about a hobby shop located in the basement of a midtown office building – I felt strangely drawn to visit. Strange, because I’m not a collector – or even casual admirer – of model trains and the like. But I do love all things “miniature”. And I’ve been on the hunt for a wood-paneled station wagon for an upcoming project. Plus I was smitten with the idea of a cramped, dusty, floor-to-ceiling shop that’s been around since the 70’s.

the red caboose

the red caboose

The owner is “eccentric”, there’s a store cat named Lionel and you will NOT walk out empty-handed. You will not. Facebook

The Christmas Cottage
Yet another NYT article (also in the “Neighborhood Joint” series) introduced me to this delightful little shop – where it’s wall-to-wall (and floor-to-ceiling) Christmas. All year round.

the christmas cottage

And I would venture that there isn’t an ornament that you have in mind that you couldn’t find here – from wheels of Parmigiano, to little ballerina mice, to a club sandwich. It’s literally all here. Facebook

the christmas cottage

Me? I got this of course:

christmas cottage ornament

Some more gems include:
Tender Buttons – I ADORE this place. Tucked into a little brownstone on the Upper East Side, it is – as you can imagine – a shop completely devoted to buttons. Read the “about” section for the store’s unique history.
Evolution – This shop has been a family favorite since Chelsea and Conor were little. A treasure trove of science and natural history collectibles, this place never fails to fascinate. A place where on any given day you’ll find cricket lollipops, bat skeletons in glass domes and more taxidermy than you knew you needed.
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Shop – Dying to check this out. Here’s a shop where you can purchase a gallon of Immortality, x-ray glasses, slime kits and more. Even better? The store is a front (hidden behind a “secret” door) for the non-profit 826NYC  – an organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative writing skills. All purchases made at the store support 826NYC.
Story – I wrote about this place a while back: every four to eight weeks, STORY completely reinvents itself -from the design to the merchandise – with the goal of bringing to light a new theme, trend or issue. Past stories have included color, wellness, love and cool.

Next up? Food!

Be sure to check out my NYC Pinterest board for all of my favorite haunts; what are some hidden gems where you live?

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