Travel: Find Something Unexpected

One of the magical things about New York City is that you can get anything here. Need a sheet of neoprene? Check. 12 varieties of locally made mayonnaise? Check check check check check check check check check check check check. But sometimes, you don't know what you're looking for until you happen onto the vintage sweatshirt, roper boots, or astronaut ice cream you never knew you needed. Today (for our inaugural travel post) we're recommending shops in Manhattan that are perfect for stumbling onto the unexpected.

We've gathered all of the recommendations into this handy Googlemap for reference on the go:

1. Extra NYC

Tucked away on its namesake street (Extra Place – a tiny alley off Houston), this shop is a mix of highly-sought-after men's clothing and eclectic vintage finds. Owner Koji Kusakabe's incredible vintage collection and thoughtful choices transport you to another place as soon as you walk in. It's the closest thing to the Wardrobe (of Lion and Witch fame) I've found. Note for connoisseurs: Koji stocks the coveted brand Post Overalls.

Extra
Image courtesy of The Scout.

2. C’H’C’M’

This is my favorite store. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but everything is more pleasant at C'H'C'M'. This shop's selection of men's clothes, accessories, shoes, and more stands out for being beautifully understated, modern, and every bit flexible (in the way that only classic designs can be). Shop owner Sweetu also makes this destination a must in NoHo; he's easy to talk to and makes you feel right at home. Every time I go in just to browse, I always find something perfect.

C'H'C'M'
Image via Shopikon.

3. Dover Street Market New York

Dover Street Market is a seven-floor gallery, department store, café, and wonderland of color and shape. It's made all sorts of headlines since opening in December for its new twist on the retail experience: With men's and women's fashions laid out to commingle androgynously, the store moves the emphasis from gender and focuses instead on form and function. They also stock items that can run you five figures, but you don't have to go to stores like DSM to buy. Gawking is free, and it's a wild ride.

DSM NY

4. Kim’s Video & Music

Kim's has been a staple of the East Village since the eighties, with 5 former locations selling rare, not-so-rare, and everything else in video, music, and other media. Now there's just one cavernous location left on 1st Avenue. It's in a league of its own, a graffitied grotto of used and new titles and one of those places in New York where you can find anything. Or rather, it'll find you.

Kim's
Image via Shopikon

5. Housing Works Thrift Shops

I've always thought of Housing Works as my secret thrift spots, even though there are 10+ locations in New York City, and they're definitely not secret. It's just nice to have reliable thrift stores relatively nearby that always seem to have great deals on amazing things that I need (and didn't realize I needed). The quality is at the top of the thrift-store spectrum, and every time I walk in, they seem to be having a 50% off sale (or some other deal that's too good to be true). What's even better is that the proceeds from the thrift shops contribute to Housing Works's advocacy efforts to end the twin crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS.

Housing Works
Image via Brooklyn.About.com

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