Sun-Thu, noon-8pm; Fri-Sat, noon-10pm
F at Second Ave.; 6 at Astor Pl.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa
The sheer amount of stuff at this reliable mini-chain's two locations is dizzying. Although faux-vintage ringer T’s (emblazoned with Rosie the Riveter and other usual suspects) beckon from the exuberantly dressed windows, apparel is just the tip of the retail iceberg. Inside, find delightfully retro cocktail supplies, kitschy magnets and greeting cards, scented candles and fragrant soaps, and plastic alarm clocks cheek by jowl with ceramic ashtrays. Wading through the idiosyncratic inventory can be overwhelming—walls and shelves teem with merchandise looking for a good home—but it’s impossible not to admire how cleverly Alphabets has crammed a department store's worth of goods into their pocket-sized boutiques. (Studio-apartment dwellers, take note.) The emphasis is on affordable—read: bright colors and less-than-heirloom quality—with occasional appearances by high-end names like Diptyque and Karim Rashid. While the target customer is, presumably, furnishing a dorm room or first apartment, on those emergency occasions when you simply must have something cute, funny or original—hostess gifts and the office Christmas gift swap —Alphabets is a lifesaver.