Hyphen Gift Guide: Get Your Shop on in Brooklyn

December 15, 2011

A gallery opening at Saffron in Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Hey holiday shoppers, don't be afraid to cross the East River if you're in New York! You might've heard, Brooklyn's pretty awesome. Here are just a few of my favorite spots; share yours in the comments!


My favorite favorite favorite shop in my neighborhood (Fort Greene) is a gift/flower/vintage store/art gallery called Saffron. It's a tiny, cozy, beautiful space filled with meticulously curated handcrafted jewelry and other gifts, unique and unusual flowers (for VERY affordable prices -- I'm now known among my friends as the one who always brings an awesome bouquet as a hostess gift because I do it ALL THE TIME), vintage clothing/housewares, and gorgeous art shows that rotate every couple months. Since they opened down the street from me a couple years ago, owner Kana Togashi, who runs the store along with her mother, brother, and boyfriend, has become a dear friend who always helps me find the perfect gift. She's the friendliest person around, and she grew up in the neighborhood so she's got tons of tips for the best places to eat in the area. And they do events! Saffron provided the flowers for a pal's wedding this summer, and every bouquet, boutonniere, and floral arrangement was beautiful. Love this place!!

Grumpy Bert

A recent addition to the growing DeKalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn is Grumpy Bert, the perfect shop to visit if you're like me and desperately missing the Giant Robot shop that closed in the East Village. Like its fellow Market shops, Grumpy Bert is a transformed shipping container, so calling it miniscule is an understatement. Owner Albert Chau manages to squeeze an incredible amount of art, plushes, and other fun gifts into the space he has, however -- I still can't believe I scored a Deth P. Sun print for so cheap. Albert is a recent transplant from the west coast, so many of the artists he features (along with Deth P. Sun he's got works by Susie Ghahremani and Seonna Hong, just to name a couple of my personal faves) are California-based, but I hope that he casts his net to some east coast talent once he's settled in. Perfect place to check out if you're an art fan or looking for a gift that's not quite like anything you've seen a million times in stores and online. Afterward, grab some pancit from Maharlika's outpost in the market's food court. Yum.

Yona Lee Vintage


Photo courtesy of Yelp.

Head south from Fort Greene across Flatbush and into Park Slope, where you can continue your shopping excursion along 5th Avenue (if you need a snack along the way, I highly recommend Taro Sushi). If you're at all interested in 60s and 70s ladies' wear, do yourself a favor and pop into Yona Lee Vintage. I love the colorful variety of carefully selected clothing and accessories -- more often than not, I pop in just to look around and feel happy. But as with any vintage store, nothing feels better than that occasional great purchase. Haayyy, YSL.


Photo from Yelp.

Over on 7th Avenue (my old digs, BTdubs), I never miss an opportunity to check out Loom, where you can pick up bags, jewelry, stationary, housewares, kids' stuff...basically anything you'd want in a fun gift store. I don't know how many times I've found myself without a perfect birthday present and picked up the perfect bicycle necklace, penguin wallet, rainbow umbrella, or hedgehog nail brush (I have actually purchased all of these things there) plus a snarky letterpress card to boot. Owner Susan Choi always has fun, unusual items, and I rarely leave empty-handed (okay, the hedgehog nail brush was for myself). If you're still hungry after you shop here, I like Mango Thai across the street.

About Glamour

I am generally way too lame (and old?) to visit Williamsburg comfortably, but whenever I find myself in northern Billyburg, I always pop into About Glamour. The front is packed with zany and adorable stationary from Japan (hello, rolls of panda tape and little red riding hood pencil pouches) while the rest of the store is full of vintage men's and women's clothing. Trust me, their sock collection alone is to die for. In the rear is a gallery space featuring artists from all over the world; I have coveted more than a few pieces back there while clutching the aforementioned panda tape. Owner Takeshi Iida has put together the perfect place to find a gift for your hip younger cousin who's too cool for Hello Kitty (for the moment). Or, y'know, for yourself, when you need a pair of clip-on earrings in the shape of horse heads, as you do.


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.