Pseudo Surf Edition

14zCRITICAL5-popupThis week's Critical Shopper, Jon Caramanica, makes a tribute of sorts so the beginning of Summer as he somewhat cruelly compares SoHo's Saturday's Surf NYC, the editor's darling and one of GQ's Best New Menswear Designers with Pilgrim Surf + Supply, an actual surf store.

It's almost unfair to compare the two at all. After all, the "Surf" on Saturday's banner is in much smaller type, and the brand's real meat and potatoes is crisp, casual sportswear that technically require no waves. Surfing here seems to be more of a theme than a goal as our shopper tells us, "There’s a rack of surfboards near the front of the store, like an art display you walk past to get to the clothes".

Conversely, while Williamsburg has more than its share of poseurs, its Pilgrim Surf + Supply appears to be the real thing,

While I was at Pilgrim, someone drove up in a small truck and pulled a surfboard out of the back, which he proceeded to scrutinize with a couple of friends. I asked a salesman with a load of curls atop his head and sun-reddened skin if he wouldn’t rather be in the ocean than working the floor, and he said “Of course.”

Well, that clarifies things for anyone hung up on tiresome concepts like "authenticity" or "street credibility". Obviously, The Shophound will be shopping at Saturday's.

Critical Shopper: The Big Wave Will Have to Wait By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Saturday's Surf NYC 31 Crosby Street between Broome & Grand Streets, SoHo
Pilgrim Surf + Supply 68 North Third Street at Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg


The Shop Clerk Lives
With A Love Match Between
Joinery & Hickoree's Hard Goods


A while back, when The Shophound arrived on the interwebs, New York Magazine's "Ask A Shop Clerk" was a weekly feature that we always looked forward to covering, and occasionally skewering, but then one day it sort of faded away, occasionally popping up for a teasing reappearance. In the past few months, however, it seems to have become something of a monthly feature, and this week, in anticipation of Valentine's Day, it features a love match made in hipster heaven —that's Williamsburg ..duh.

Emil Corsillo of Hickoree's Hard Goods and Angela Silva of Joinery, two of the neighborhood's more prominent recent retail additions, are apparently a couple, which is obviously adorable. As their interview covered tha typical "tow shopkeepers in love" ground, up came the inevitable question: Do you think of your stores as “hipster”?

Both retailers demurred to committing to the term, which has become almost as annoying as "yuppie", especially to those who are likely to fall into the category. The next question, however settled the matter pretty well.

NYMag: What’s your favorite item in stock right now?
Angela: Shoulder bags made out of Brazilian feed sacks. But I get the most compliments on useful stuff, like a toilet brush with a wooden handle.
Emil: Splatter-painted mugs and bowls.

Yep. You two are hipsters. No question about it. Own it!

Ask a Shop Clerk, Couples Edition: Angela Silva and Emil Corsillo (NYMag)
Joinery, 263 South 1st Street near Havemeyer St
Hickoree’s Hard Goods Floor Two, 109 South 6th Street near Bedford Avenue, second floor, both in Williamsburg


Happy Homemaker Edition

Z-CRITIC-G-popup After a week's break, today's Critical Shopper Cintra Wilson starts off with a memory of a meticulously arranged clothesline she saw once in Poughkeepsie NY.
Well, if she says so. Anyway, this is all to introduce us to Williamsburg's Brook Farm General Store, which sounds like the sort of place that stocks itself with merchandise that's been made the same way for decades but costs a whole lot more now than it used to in the '50s. There's even a friendly beagle on site. The whole thing sounds adorable, and Cintra seems surprisingly charmed. And yet, already, we hate it a little without ever having been there.

It sounds like the Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP of home stores —the kind of place that fetishizes humble workaday items and reprices them for rich folks,

There is an excellent selection of blue-collar lunch-break items — goods once carried by 1950s building site supervisors with crew cuts and pocket protectors. There are Sigg metal lunchboxes, not unlike oversize anchovy tins ($29), and classic green Stanley thermoses ($30) that are a throwback to someone’s dad’s clean garage. I had never seen a Stanley flask ($20) before, but I reckoned that many a factory worker pocketed them in their coveralls until too many industrial accidents happened.

That's $79 worth of lunchbox and accessories and there's not even any food in it yet! Of course, a fancypants like The Shophound has no business criticizing such a place without having had a visit, we just don't like to pay retail. Come to think of it, we can work up a hankering for porcelain measuring spoons or linen tea towels pretty damn fast.

Sorry, we need to get to the "L" train...

Critical Shopper: A Primer for the Wholesome, Happy Home By Cintra Wilson (NYTimes)
Brook Farm General Store 75 South 6th Street, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Departures:

Yoko Deveraux Folds
After Times Spotlight

We have heard stories from retailers about how coverage in the Times' Critical Shopper column can add a nice boost to business, but it doesn't seem to have been enough to save Williamsburg hipster boutique Yoko Deveraux.
Only a few weeks after being showcased by Mike Albo in the Thursday Styles, The label has announced that it is folding due to its parent company's financial troubles. Perhaps Mike should have left out the part where he found the brand at a thrift shop down the street for a fraction of the price.
Putting a positive spin on things, the label is holding a "Liquidation Celebration" on its website right now at giveaway prices. The sale will open up to the Brooklyn store tomorrow through Thursday or until everything is gone including fixtures.
Get it while you can, skinny Williamsburg boys!
Discontinued: Hipster Ambassador Yoko Devereaux Shuts Down (Racked)
Critical Shopper | Yoko Devereaux: Walk a Mile in Their Droopy Cardigans (NYTimes)
Previously: Mike Albo Goes Shopping: Hipster Defense Edition

Mike Albo Goes Shopping:

Outer Borough Sale Shop Edition

25critic.span This week's critical shopper Mike Albo discovers that in the world of Paul Smith, service levels directly correlate to discounts in the designer's various boutiques around the city.
The longtime Smith fan finds disappointment at the designer's recently opened sale shop in Williamsburg when the discounts are underwhelming and the sales staff's demeanor and storekeeping skills are downright disagreeable.

When I walked up to the new Paul Smith store in Williamsburg, one of the salesclerks, a young woman, was busy texting in the doorway. She looked up from her keypad. “Hihowareyou,” she said under her breath, with a dead face. (I am fluent in the language of retail, and this means: “Oh, great. A person.”)
“Oh, don’t worry!” I said, like the overfriendly doormat that I am. “You can keep texting!” She glared at me, turned and walked into the store.

Welcome to Williamsburg!
And yet, a few days, a bit of tidying up and, most importantly, a jump in the discount from 30% to 70% makes all the difference for Mike, just as it would for us.
We have to wonder, however, if Smith's year-round clearance store has anything to do with the vexing absence of a Paul Smith sample sale this season, which would be a bummer for us provincial Manhattanites. Are we now to trek to Williamsburg for our seasonal Paul Smith fix instead of having it practically carted to our doorstep via a jumbled room of bargains at the Chelsea Market? Such are the trials we have to suffer for our vocation.
Critical Shopper | Paul Smith Sale Shop: Where Happiness Is on Clearance By Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Paul Smith Sale Shop 280 Grand Street between Roebling and Havermeyer Streets, Williamsburg

A.P.C. Surplus Store Coming to Williamsburg

After 15 years, French cult sportswear label A.P.C. has only just opened its second U.S. store in L.A. this week. There's something to be said for exclusivity, but the good news for us here in New York is that they will be opening a "surplus" store in Williamsburg this September selling unsold merchandise from previous seasons as well as current stock of its coveted jeans at full price. This adds Brooklyn to the list of "surplus" locations around the world for the brand including two in Japan and one in Paris. Founder and president Jean Touitou tells WWD, "I am not ashamed of my unsold business, and I prefer to remain in control of my previous seasons because I still think the clothes are beautiful." What better place to unload excess skinny jeans than in the skinny jean capital of the Eastern Seaboard.

Hide and Seek Part V: Oak Spreads Its Roots in Brooklyn


We decided to take advantage of being led around Brooklyn a few days ago to hunt down a store that had popped up on our radar. Let us clarify that Oak is not a hidden store simply because it is in Brooklyn. We're not that snobby. In both its locations, however,  Oak is just far enough off the beaten path to be easily missed by anyone searching the obvious thoroughfares, and well camouflaged enough to evade anyone but the truly serious. Let's start with the original Williamsburg store pictured above, after the jump.

Continue reading "Hide and Seek Part V: Oak Spreads Its Roots in Brooklyn" »

Alex K Goes Shopping: Outer Borough Thrift Shop Edition

21crit1600First off, we must say that we usually like to get our Critical Shopper follow-up posted promptly on Thursday, but this week in the New York Times' Thursday Styles, Alec Kuzcynski had us careening all over Brooklyn which gave us time-mamagement issues. Geographical challenges aside, we made sure to hit her choice thrift stores in Williamsburg and Park Slope, though we have a litle trouble visualizing our ever more intrepid Alex, cheap though she may purport to be, rummaging through racks of pre-owned clothes. And for good reason. Apparently a used purse is enough to send her fertile mind reeling:

I bought a metallic clutch purse at Alice Underground, inside of which I found half a piece of chewing gum, a torn ticket to the Metropolitan Opera and a $20 bill. It made me sad to think that one day you wake up and go to the opera and neatly tear your stick of Wrigley’s in half and tuck the rest back into your purse, and the next you’re dead and your kids have given away your clothes and some dumb college kid is taking your handbag to a nightclub, where she will use the $20 for overpriced drinks.

Imagine what an entire closet of vintage would do to her imagination.

More after the jump

Continue reading "Alex K Goes Shopping: Outer Borough Thrift Shop Edition" »

Employee Of The Week M.I.A. Edition: Mari Kussman at CB I Hate Perfume Gallery

Askshop060512_198 Well, we tried. We really did. We thought, "Hey, Williamsburg. That's a little out of our way." We don't spend much time there (or any, actually), but we're not just about SoHo and Bleecker Street. We're mobile. We have a Metrocard. We were intrigued by the concept of the CB I Hate Perfume Gallery because, while we don't full-on hate perfume, we're not all that crazy about 90% of the fragrances we come across. We checked so we would get exactly where we wanted to go, and set out in search of Mari Kussman, just like New York Magazine told us to. And what did we find?
More after the jump

Continue reading "Employee Of The Week M.I.A. Edition: Mari Kussman at CB I Hate Perfume Gallery" »