In spite of the robust health of online shopping, the streets of Manhattan’s West Village offer a rich selection of brick-and-mortar stores to explore. Stalwarts — like C.O. Bigelow Chemists (established in 1838!) and Three Lives Bookstore (opened in 1968) — thrive alongside newer arrivals. Here are a few of our favorite relative newcomers, as well as a more established don’t-miss wildcard.
John Derian West
Decidedly not for minimalists. This West Village outpost of designer John Derian’s empire (he also has stores in the East Village and Provincetown, Mass.) is tastefully jammed full of the beautiful, well-traveled bohemian lifestyle you aspire to. French handmade ceramics, Austrian blown-glass holiday ornaments, Venetian mirrors, melamine dishes and trays printed with whimsical illustrations: whales, maps, birds, flowers, phrenology charts, planets, anatomical imagery. Enter at your risk, impulsive shoppers.
18 Christopher Street (btwn. Gay Street and Waverly Place)
The Old Yew
If you happen to glance up as you walk down Horatio Street on your way to the Whitney Museum, you may notice a window trying to catch your eye. The window, full of exuberant green plant life, is beckoning you to climb four steps and enter The Old Yew. During the pandemic, August Laska, who worked in entertainment marketing, followed his bliss (and his excellent sense of timing, at the dawn of this golden age of plant owners) during the pandemic and organized a couple of popup plant shops that convinced him it was time to open a shop. When he found this Horatio Street storefront, not far from where he grew up on Christopher Street, it felt like serendipity. The small store focuses on indoor plants and offers support and advice to apartment gardeners. The backyard is being turned into a space for outdoor plants and landscaping ideas.
1 Horatio Street (btwn. West 4th Street and 8th Avenue)
Pop Up Grocer
This airy corner shop is a retail showcase for “emerging brands” — those charmingly packaged products that call themselves small-batch or artisanal and that pop into your social media feed to let you know that, yes, you do suddenly need tinned sardines wrapped in checkerboard paper. You know that extra virgin olive oil with the super friendly label? It’s here next to a barcode that you can scan for more details. A cabinet devoted to non-alcoholic cocktail fixin’s awaits your approaching sober-curious phase. All the merchandise is for sale, but the affable staff is also accustomed to people taking selfies in front of the shelves of cheerful wrappers and labels. At the counter in the center of the sunny space, you can grab a baked good and a cup of coffee supplied by a rotating roster of roasters.
205 Bleecker Street (at Minetta Street)
Though it just opened in late 2021, Cursive Home already feels part of the neighborhood fabric. Owners Douglas Duncan and Michael Schultz were familiar with the retail ropes from having run an early iteration of Cursive as a shop within ABC Carpet & Home for 25 years. When COVID struck, they moved to two separate shops on Hudson Street, one devoted to home and one to stationery and cards. Cursive Home’s inventory eludes categorization — bright silk scarves, a selection of cocktail glasses, scented candles, dog toys, hand-stitched linens, fossils (!), throw pillows, bone-handled steak knives — and feels personal and inspired. Duncan says, “We don’t have all of these things at home, but let’s just say they’d all fit right in with the other stuff we do have.” The curation reveals the owners’ curiosity, sense of humor and an abiding love of beautiful objects, all reasons why the locals have embraced the new shop.
543 Hudson Street (between Greenwich and Hudson Streets)
According to Hollywood, NYC is swarming with Type-A cynics who barrel down the sidewalk shouting “Buy! Sell!” into their mobile phones. But if you walk around the West Village, you may spy a different NYC type: namely ones who walk big dogs, wear weekend clothes midweek, and are at their most business-like when optimizing their time to squeeze in more beach days. Whalebone, a popular Montauk magazine and lifestyle shop, recently opened a West Village location to serve these chill city folk. Snag a dog biscuit for your furry companion and browse at your leisure. The corner shop-cum-clubhouse (honestly, how many stores have multiple sofas, a turntable, houseplants, and a pinball machine?) stocks their own publication and Wildsam travel guides, as well as Whalebone-branded clothing and goods like tees, sweatshirts, beach towels, corduroy trucker caps, koozies, and posters.
328 Bleecker Street (at Christopher Street)
The End of History
This small storefront is an eyeful, a true celebration of mid-century decorative arts. On every surface, art glass and ceramic objects are cleverly grouped by colors or type. And oh, those colors and types! Under shapely blown-glass light fixtures, turquoise vases of varying sizes are arranged on a shelf above a clutch of tangerine works of all shapes and materials: glass moon jars next to impossibly tall, ridged pottery containers next to a lovable blobby ashtray. It’s as though a compulsive librarian was set loose in a flea market of only desirable, breakable things and shaped it into a collection of collections.