Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Best Shopping in Grey Box

You know those maps posted inside New York City cabs - on the back of the front seats? Have you ever noticed that amidst the colorful neighborhood coding for such favorites as the Upper West Side, Chelsea and the East Village lies a grey box situated in the middle of the east-20s? Well, this is where I live, and have lived since 1997. I belovedly call it "Grey Box." If you're from out-of-town and look at this map, you'll probably figure that it's some industrial wasteland - and back in the 90s that may have been somewhat accurate. Kidding. However, there are some shopping and eating spots that are more than notable. And definitely not grey. Here are some of the best:

Les Nanas de Gramercy - This small Parisian boutique caters to the ladies of Gramercy Park, but offers clothing, jewelry and accessories for all ages, shapes and sizes. All personally selected by the owner, Natalie, shoppers are guaranteed a wide selection of intriguing items. She visits Paris several times a year and literally shops for her customers and then ensures her staff are thoroughly familiar with the goods so that they can act as personal stylists. I have picked up some of the most stellar knitwear and skirts here. Things that are literally not sold anywhere else in town. They also now have a permanent 50-percent-(or more) off sale in the downstairs section. 70% on some off-season items if you pay cash!

Housing Works - This is one high-end thrift store that auctions the most interesting and valuable items in the City via magnificently styled windows including antique and designer furniture, apparel, shoes and art. Housing Works strives to ensure that homeless and low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and their families have adequate housing, food, social support, drug treatment, health care, and employment. They've raised millions for that cause through their thrift stores, of which there are several in NYC.

Ricky's - This beauty extravaganza just moved from the low 20s into the old Jennifer Convertible store. Anything you need in make up and hair, adult "toys" - they have it. Except they don't have as good a candy selection as they did in their former space. WHERE IS THE PEZ!?

Rodeo Bar & Grill - Frozen Margaritas. I would end my tale there, because these are the best and most lethal on all of the island formerly known as New Amsterdam, however they also dish out really good Tex-Mex food and free music until 2 a.m. And there's a daily happy hour with $5 margaritas and $3 draft beer (Monday -- Saturday 4p.m. - 8 p.m.; Sundays 6p.m. - 9 p.m.) So it's the perfect storm for a neighborhood haunt, a mere one block from my house. And yes, I am a snob too and it does kind of look like a Bennigan's. But trust me, it is not. Go.

Curry in a Hurry - In a hurry? Fancy a curry? Well here you go. Get enough food for two for less than $10, including a bit of salad and various sauces. I love this place so much they even gave me a free mug one Christmas. Drawback: You Will Get Fat.

Recent notable closings: Sacco - A shoe store I like that offers some unique jewelry and accessories. I think that the salesperson who worked here drove customers away. At least that was the case for me. Don't worry though, there are other locations still sprinkled around town. Rodeo apparel (or whatever it's called) - What was once a vacuum sales and repair shop, recently turned into a rockabilly country-and-western store connected to the Rodeo. I didn't get a chance to go in and now it looks like it is closed indefinitely. Remains to be seen...


Jace said...

you seem to have left out that decidedly average diner that you took me to. Maybe you just don't have good brunch in yer hood...

Guerilla Shopper said...

ha, i don't even remember! was it the Sunflower (right next to my building) or Joe's Jr? (cheap and down the ave). I have to think about good brunch - I'm not really the brunching type so much. I guess the Irish bar McCormack's is good. But so dank!