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Heading East

We’ve got a yen for these cheap, chic wares.

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The Buck Stops Here: Cheap yellow totes at Samurai.  

Samurai is the coolest 99-cent store I’ve ever seen. I can’t quite explain the name, although you might have to be warriorlike by Manhattan standards to get to its Astoria location (31-08 Steinway Street, at 31st Avenue; 718-278-1433). But resist the temptation to take a cab (you’ll need it for the return trip to haul all your booty) and take the G, R, or V train to Steinway. At first, Samurai seems like any other 99-cent store—overwhelmingly underwhelming. The temptation is to run for the door. Don’t. The stuff here is incredibly eclectic, albeit sometimes so kitschy you’ll burst out laughing. The first aisle is office products: citrus-colored notebooks and staples in fuchsia, navy, green, and gold. Next, kids’ stuff, including Hello Kitty and a similar brand called Ham-Ster. There are tons of beauty items (with an impressive selection of false eyelashes) and tabletop goods (from ceramic rice bowls to mod mugs). My favorite steal: a small canvas tote in yellow or red. The most expensive object? A large covered ceramic pot for $4.99—slightly more than your round-trip subway ride but, on a cost-per-use basis, practically free.


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