Ask a Shop Clerk: Holiday Edition

Photo: Brad Paris

Carol Wald
Three Lives
154 W. 10th St., at Waverly Pl. 212-741-2069

What gifts are you buying from here?
The first is a book by Rosemary Sullivan: Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape and a House in Marseille [$26.95]. It’s history, it’s intrigue. It’s nonfiction. It’s a real page-turner.

Who’s that for?
I am going to buy it for my husband, who is into this kind of thing.

What else? A fun book?
Amy Sedaris’s I Like You [$27.99]. It’s very funny, and it actually has good tips in it.

What’s your favorite tip in there?
She’s got a great recipe for a cheese ball that I’ve actually made. It was delicious.

What’s the big fiction pick?
For just a whopping good read: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her new one is called Half of a Yellow Sun [$24.95]. It’s like Gone With the Wind, except in Nigeria.

Say a 17-year-old guy came in to buy a gift for his girlfriend?
Dave Eggers’s book What Is the What? [$26] just came out, and I’ll tell you, I’ve got my beady little eye on that.

What’s a sexy gift?
One comes instantly to mind.

Oh, really?
It’s called The Ages of Lulu, by Almudena Grandes [$13.95]. I liked the cover, and I thought, What the hell, I could use a saucy read. So I started reading, and I thought, Oh, my God.

Photo: Brad Paris

Mark Haldeman
Paul Smith
142 Greene St., nr. Houston St.; 646-613-3060

Who are you shopping for here?
First on my list is my partner. In the boutique’s gallery, there’s one photograph in particular [$3,400] that would be perfect in our guest bedroom. It’s a famous photograph of the Duke of Devonshire asleep on his eighteenth-century sofa.

What about for your friends?
For our friend who’s a total fashion plate, there’s a faux-ocelot-print trilby hat by Rod Keenan [$575]; an ocelot is a cat that looks like a leopard, with spots. You can get fabulous old vintage hatboxes at the 26th Street market, if you get there by 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Any family members on your list?
I have a twin brother. He’s very artistic. Anything really wild is right up his alley. There’s a beautiful tapestry jacket from the men’s collection; it’s basically a takeoff on the old wall hangings of hunting scenes made into a sport coat [$1,245]. It’s very tongue-in-cheek. It has hunters, dogs, and pheasants. It’s a thick coat, so it can be worn for walks along the lake. My family’s from Minnesota— the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”—so that’s what everyone does on the weekend: They go walking around the lakes.

Photo: Brad Paris

Amanda McCreary
The Future Perfect
115 N. 6th St., nr. Berry St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-599-6278

Who are you buying for this year?
I will be buying for my little sister, for my boyfriend, and I usually get something for my grandma from here. It’s fun to bring something cool and design-y from Brooklyn back to the suburbs of Illinois.

What are you buying for your sister?
My sister is totally into nature stuff. Sarah Cihat takes old dinnerware and then reglazes them with all these stencils—she’s known for her skull-and-crossbones plates [$75 to $90], but she’s doing new stencils now with spiders and owls on them that are really cute.

What about for Grandma?
I think I’m going to get a teapot by Jason Miller [$90]. It’s called Second. It’s a regular teapot, but he places beautiful bird designs on the teapot and they are all crooked and wrong.

What’s a tween-friendly gift?
We have rings called Bling Blink; they’re made to look like the outline of a diamond, like an engagement ring. But the artist does it in cool, bright colors [$7].

What are you buying for your boyfriend?
We have this silver baby rattle [$75] that makes a beautiful noise. He’s definitely checked it out. The other thing would be way more spendy. It’s a retainer [$300], gold-plated. It’s a sort of cool, hip, bling necklace for a guy.

Photo: Brad Paris

Hermine Evelyn
693 Fifth Ave., nr. 54th St.; 212-350-0100

What will you be buying as a gift this year?
Definitely the body cream [Takashimaya private label Vetiver, $28; fifth floor]. It’s very soft, like soufflé.

Who is that for?
I buy it for myself all the time. My sister loves it, too.

Anything for your mom?
Anthousa, from our home-fragrance line [Anthousa diffuser with sticks, 500-ml., various scents, $90; fifth floor]. It comes in a nice keepsake bottle. Bamboo sticks go in the bottle, and they are very porous, so the scent works through the sticks. I’ll probably buy a floral scent. Either a bottle of Cliff Rose or Bougainvillea—I’m torn.

For your boyfriend?
I haven’t decided yet. He loves luggage, and we have some really classy leather bags. I’d probably go with the Ro overnight bag. It’s in brown leather [$425].

Are people holiday shopping already?
Oh, yes. One woman who comes in very early, she gets a lot of attention, and she likes that. I recommended a cashmere robe by Daniel Hanson for her sister, but she bought one for herself while she was at it. At $2,000 a pop! Well, $1,995, actually.

What’s a good ex-boyfriend gift?
I’d march down to the second floor and buy one of our pocket watches [Ettinger, $165; second floor]. On one side there is a flap for a picture, so I’d stick one of myself in there, looking really good.

Photo: Brad Paris

Jerry Eaderesto
Geppetto’s Toy Box
10 Christopher St., nr. Greenwich Ave.; 212-620-7511

Who are you shopping for?
My grandnephew, who’s 5. I’m going to give him a miniature wooden fort by a German company, Haba [$69.95]. Or maybe a wooden race-car set [$44.95] by a 100-year-old French company that reproduces the company’s designs from the twenties and thirties.

Who else is on your list?
My grandniece loves stuffed animals. We have a high-end German line called Sigikid [from $34.95] that very few other people in the city carry.

Do you have a baby to buy for?
My cousin’s daughter. I found a lady, who’s part of a collective of artists in Chicago, who does beautiful offbeat blankets [$100].

Any teenagers?
I have a 13-year-old nephew. We have a company who makes state-of-the-art science kits. I’m going to get him the Physics Solar Workshop [$59.95], which gives him different experiments in solar-power technology. So maybe he’ll save the planet for us.

Does he have a sister?
Yes. She’s a tomboy. I’m considering a silver speedster racer [$79.95]. She lives in a pretty big house in Long Island, so there’s room.

Is there a new dollhouse?
The Chalet Dollhouse [$120] is modern in design, very open—it has a tower, a skylight, and a little outdoor staircase. It’s not like the Playmobile Victorian that we had. Parents would tell me that it had all these insanely little parts—that it took two bottles of Chardonnay to assemble it.

Photo: Brad Paris

Anna Dunn
Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway, nr. Berry St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-1441

What are you going to buy as a gift from the store?
I buy my best friend olive oil a lot. We sell a blood-orange oil [Stella Cadente Olive Oil Company, $22] and a Meyer-lemon olive oil [Stella Cadente, $18], and she uses it on salads and fish. It comes in little Mason jars, like jam.

What gift would you consider “not obvious”?
We just started carrying these Japanese knives [$70 to $200] from a family who has been making them for 700 years. They used to manufacture samurai swords. The knives are hand-hammered, so each one is different. You use them for basic chopping and preparing. They are supersharp.

What’s a great cheap gift—under $10 or $15?
Bronx Bee Honey. I can tell you about the guy that makes it. He’s in the South Bronx, and he’s based at the St. Augustine’s Catholic Church there. He started keeping bees so that the community gardens would become more fruitful [$10 a jar].

How does it taste?
It’s not creamy. It’s a little bit rich, not too sweet, pretty smooth. But it’s better than regular supermarket honey because it comes from the Bronx.

What about a gift for a teacher?
Teachers are kind of dorky, so some tea. Keemun Mao Feng loose-leaf black tea [In Pursuit of Tea, $5.75].

Which tea do you drink?
I drink the wild mint. Because it tastes the least like tea. It tastes as if you were chewing on a mint leaf—not like peppermint.

What’s sexy?
Would it be too goofy to say the Cream-Nut peanut butter? [Koeze Company, $5].

What’s sexy about it?
It’s silky. And it’s called cream nut.

Photo: Brad Paris

Nina Robinson
405 W. 44th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-246-8041

Who are you buying gifts for from Lyd this year?
My four girlfriends.

What are you buying?
For my roommate, I would go with the HOBO patent-leather red clutch [Belinda, $98]. We’ll also have it in black, but the ruby red is perfect for the holidays.

Will all your girlfriends be walking around with the same patent-leather red accessories next year?
Two of them are from Pittsburgh, so hopefully no one will know.

How would you describe the Lyd shopper?
They are young, professional women. We have students and lots of hip, young mothers—the fashions this year are great for mothers who are pregnant. I had a 50-year-old woman the other day.

What did she buy?
She bought a QI cashmere sweater [$168] in black. Oh, and also the HOBO clutch.

Are you buying anything for your mom?
I like the cashmere neck warmer for Mom instead of a scarf [Sphere One, $98]. It has a little rosette on it. We have grays, oatmeal, violet, pink, and celadon. Tocca just put out a new fragrance, Stella, and I’ve been waiting for it [$68]. We have the candle already [$36].

Do you own the candle?
Yes. I usually put it in our kitchen.

What’s the gift someone is going to buy for you?
I have my eye on a new line by Zoe Chicco. She has this amazing silver-pendant necklace. It’s a bird in a circle. It’s really pretty, really unique [$176].

Does your boyfriend know?
Hopefully he will soon.

What would you suggest for an inexpensive gift?
We have sterling-silver charm earrings—birds and little leaves and stars [AH jewelry, $28]. I was thinking of getting those for my little sisters.

Photo: Brad Paris

Jules Siff
700 Fifth Ave., nr. 55th St.; 212-397-9000

Are you buying anyone a watch this year?
I haven’t decided. But I would consider buying my wife the 24 by Patek Philippe in stainless steel [$8,600]. It’s like a cuff. It curves to your wrist.

Do you get a discount?
Of course I get a discount. I would be insulted if I didn’t.

What’s going to sell like hotcakes?
The Submariner by Rolex in stainless steel [$5,175] is always in demand. Thirty years from today, it will still be in demand. I bought it for my son on his 30th birthday.

What’s the watch brand to buy for the watch-obsessed person?
Patek Philippe and A. Lange & Söhne. The plainest Patek Philippe [$12,950] takes nine months to make. More complicated ones can take two to three years.

An inexpensive gift?
I would say a set of cuff links in sterling silver, like the Wempe cuff link [$195]. You can put an initial on it.

But what about a less expensive watch, in the $1,500 range?
It would be an automatic—self-winding. I would say a Tag Heuer [$1,450]. It has a blue dial and a blue bezel, and it looks like a diving watch. It’s unisex—for a young lady or young man. With automatic watches, as you move, it winds itself. If you leave it idle for a day, it will stop.

Have you been selling for Christmas already?
I sold a Rolex this morning to a gentleman from Mexico. He bought a Rolex for his wife, a Lady Datejust [$6,525]. It is eighteen-karat yellow gold and stainless steel.

Are quartz watches popular?
If you’re a watch person, quartz is not even in your vocabulary. If Mario Andretti came in and wanted a car, would he ask for an automatic?

Ask a Shop Clerk: Holiday Edition