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Everything you always wanted to know
about shopping
and weren't afraid to ask Corky.

New York's master shopper, Corky Pollan, reveals the secrets of the city's boutiques, stores and galleries.

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New Yorkers need to know. Corky Pollan sifts through your most pressing questions about shopping -- where to, what for -- and sends you in the right direction.

Florists

You've probably seen them all, but do you have a favorite florist?

Six. My taste runs to simple, somewhat romantic floral arrangements, though I've been bowled over by painter turned floral designer Wolfgang Thom of Decor Floral (227 West 29th Street; 279-9066) and his bold, wondrous mixings of blossoms, berries, and branches. And, after so many years, Ronaldo Maia's (27 East 67th Street; 288-1049) inventive arrangements remain a constant surprise. I love Antony Todd's (by appointment only; 367-7363) offbeat colors and the just-picked look of his compositions, and the folks at Larkspur (148 Duane Street, near West Broadway, 727-0587) for simply concentrating on great flowers -- no gimmicks. I'm a pushover for the monochromatic (all white, all apricot, all whatever) bouquets created by Zezé Calvo of Zezé Flowers (398 East 52nd Street; 753-7767), but I have a special weakness for the sweet-smelling nosegays Jae Chong creates at Spring Street Gardens (186 1/2 Spring Street; 966-2015).

Vintage Maps

I've become interested in old maps,and I'm searching for ones suitable for framing. Where do I look?

Serious cartography collectors head for Richard B. Arkway (59 East 54th Street, Sixth floor; 751-8135), a quiet sanctuary filled with rare specimens: fifteenth-century pre-Columbus views; Dutch maps from the seventeenth century (the golden age of mapmaking); early ones of the world and of just about every country, including the first maps to show the United States. It's a welcoming shop even for the uninitiated, and Paul Cohen, the gallery director, has such a contagious love for maps you're sure to be as smitten as I was. Some cost no more than a pair of Prada shoes ($450), but most are in the designer-coat range ($1,500 to $6,000): not bad for works of art rife with history, created by the best cartographers of their times.

North of Richard B. Arkway and tucked away on the sixth floor is Martayan Lan (70 East 55th Street; 308-0018), the city's only other gallery specializing in early and rare maps -- and another novice-friendly shop.The framed maps covering several walls are a fraction of the inventory, which includes views from the 1400s, pre-Columbus world maps, early maps of the heavens, and many by the Dutch masters. Drawers are organized by country, city, and region. Maps go for as little as $200 to $300, but most are $500 to $10,000, with some in the six-figure range -- a lot of Prada shoes.

It looks like a library, but the Argosy Book Store (116 East 59th Street; 753-4455) has a print department with an astonishing array of early maps collected over seven decades. Adina Cohen, Judith Lowry, and Naomi Hample (daughters of Lewis Cohen, the original owner) tell me that every country, every state, every county in every part of the world has at one time or another been stashed away in one of Argosy's folders. Maps are organized by year. Prices are as low as $50 and just about everything is under $1,000.

The selection is quirky, the shop cluttered, but -- as when shopping at Loehmann's in its heyday -- I get a rush of anticipation whenever I stop by Pageant Book & Print Shop (114 West Houston Street; 674-5296). Where else could you find an 1867 map of Wappingers Falls for $40? Most date from the 1860s to the early 1900s, with some seventeenth-century European ones. There are county maps of the northeastern states, and many of Manhattan: city views, borough atlases, neighborhoods. Nothing is more than $400; most are $10-to-$200.

Kids' Shoes

Who carries children's shoes that both parents and kids can love?

Lug soles are less clunky and heels are shrinking, so this season there should be fewer battles between moms and kids. At Great Feet (1241 Lexington Avenue, at 84th Street; 249-0551) the hot looks are velveteen slip-ons, penny loafers with shaped heels that look higher than they are, and Kenneth Cole's Reaction Brady boots and his very metallic Mary Janes; for boys it's the Tommy Hilfiger black oxford and Cole's suede oxford. Now that Stride Rite has inched into fashion (with raspberry-red velvet loafers and such), kids and their parents can shop happy.

Wedge-soles are the word at Shoofly (465 Amsterdam Avenue, near 82nd Street, 580-4390; and 42 Hudson Street, 406-3270). Roz Viemeister has them in loafers, Mary Janes, and ankle boots. Rugged hiking boots are winners with both girls and boys, and a black suede oxford with a round toe and a refined lug sole is tops with the guys.

Velours, velvets, Lycra -- anything fabric -- rules at Little Eric (1118 Madison Avenue, near 83rd Street, 717-1513; and 1331 Third Avenue, near 76th Street, 288-8987). The look for boys is very dad: wing-tip tie shoes and tasseled penny loafers. And shoes this season have moved beyond black, to brown and blue.

Bed Linens

Do you have a favoritelinen store?

If I ever won the lottery, all my bed linens would come from D. Porthault (18 East 69th Street; 688-1660) or Pratesi (829 Madison Avenue, near 69th Street; 288-2315), whose fabled high-thread-count sheets are gentle lullabies. Until then, I head instead for less regal bedding. Macy's Herald Square (151 West 34th Street; 695-4400) has a mind-boggling selection -- I've counted more than twenty major names, including Ralph Lauren, Palais Royal, and Calvin Klein -- on the newly renovated sixth floor. I check out Bed Bath and Beyond (620 Sixth Avenue, at 18th Street; 255-3550) for its selection of less exalted brands and discount prices. But I turn to ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway, at 19th Street, third floor; 737-3000) for patterns and names I can't find anywhere else. Much of the sheeting that's sumptuously layered on the antique beds was created by ABC in France, Italy, and Portugal; other linens are by little-known designers; still others are exclusive to the store.


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