- Top Hat
245 Broome St., nr. Ludlow St.; 212-677-4240
Nina Allen’s closet-size gift shop on the Lower East Side may not solve any of your practical life problems, but its wares are, in a word, delightful. White walls serve as the perfect canvas for the owner’s globally plucked selection of appealing oddball stuff including hand-painted porcelain fruit from Birmingham, England; scrub brushes assembled by vision-impaired artisans at the Berlin Institute for the Blind; inflatable stationery from Japan; and faux snowballs from Finland that crunch when you squeeze them. There’s even a calendar knitted into a scarf that requires its wearer to tug a thread to change the date—the embodiment of German punctiliousness and New York excess, if there ever was one.
Best Things You Didn't Know You Needed
From the 2012 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).