Best of BoCoCa Boutiques

Heather Liang and Christina Parrella


The charming Brooklyn neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens—known together as BoCoCa—overflow with shopping options. We've compiled a list of the best places to visit: stores that are diverse and eclectic, many of them mom-and-pop establishments that support local artisans. View the following slides for our choices of where to purchase women's clothing, menswear, shoes and accessories, kids' stuff, home furnishings and more. Once you've completed your shopping tour of the area, your appetite will likely kick into overdrive, so be sure to look through our Smith Street dining suggestions as well. For more on these cozy enclaves—including overviews of the picturesque streets, culture, art and nightlife they have to offer—visit our Brooklyn neighborhood guide, or see the individual guides on Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. And for more on the borough, visit our Brooklyn page.

Courtesy, Bird

Women's Wear
In BoCoCa there are more shopping options than even the most avid browser could physically tackle in one day. And in addition to usual suspects like LF, hidden retail gems abound. Smith Street showroom Article& (which functions as a shop, though its business is now primarily online) carries contemporary clothing carefully curated by Lara Fieldbinder, who's been doing business in this location since 2005. Fieldbinder caters to local creative types looking for tailored, not-too-trendy career-wear pieces that are edgy and well made.

At the higher end of the retail spectrum is Bird, a boutique that offers women's wear labels like Acne and Isabel Marant alongside goods from local upstarts such as Brooklyn brand Apiece Apart. For minimalist handbags made from soft and supple leather, try Joy Gryson. The handbag designer, who has worked for Marc Jacobs, Coach and Calvin Klein, crafts a line of bags in crossbody, satchel and backpack styles made from goatskin, cowhide and other similar materials. 

The more budget-friendly Kaight is devoted to eco-conscious threads from local and national designers such as Ti Mo and H Fredriksson. Kaight's whimsical mix of clothing, accessories and shoes are all pesticide-free and ethically made. –Christina Parrella

Hollander & Lexer. Photo: Malcolm Brown

In an area dominated by outstanding fashion destinations for women, the men's offerings in BoCoCa have comparable flair. The retailer Steven Alan features a collection of on-trend pieces from various designers as well as a house line. Shoppers will find stacks of stovepipe denim, long linen shirts and straight-fitting dress shirts and jackets. Alan's own designs have a sleek, classic sensibility that extends to accessories and eyewear as well as clothes. Rime is a must-stop for footwear devotees. The sneaker stock here includes limited- and special-edition shoes from Nike, Adidas, Vans and Puma, while options from the likes of Thorogood and Abington appeal to those who prefer a tough, outdoors look. The store also carries street-wear brands such as Akomplice. 

Hollander & Lexer
, on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, is grounded in an industrial aesthetic. At the shop, guys can up their fashion game with shirts tailored locally and wool vests that echo styles of the past. The offerings at Smith Street's WP Lavori are similarly geared to wardrobe evolution. For over three decades the international retailer has been selling rugged heritage brands like Baracuta and Palladium. This is the brand's first shop in the US. –CP

Olive’s Very Vintage. Photo: Jennifer McCulloch

In with the Old
If you're looking for clothes that are a perfect blend of past and present, the BoCoCa neighborhoods will have something to suit your taste. Women's thrift shop Olive's Very Vintage is run by owner and former stylist Jen McCulloch. Olive's stocks a darling selection of vintage clothes (some designer), accessories and other knick-knacks, from salt-and-pepper shakers to vintage candelabras. A few blocks away at Olive's brother store, Olaf's Vintage, secondhand menswear chosen by McCulloch—a range of twill suit jackets, button-up shirts, ties, blazers and coats from generations past—is for sale.  

Vintage boutique Eva Gentry Consignment caters to shoppers looking for glam, pre-loved duds. Stylists and fashion's upper crust drop off pieces here that have been pulled for shoots or hung in a closet never to be worn again. You'll uncover incredible finds from brands such as Maison Martin Margiela, Acne and Yves Saint Laurent; since these clothes have been very minimally worn, the pricing is discounted but close to the original. If you're game for a search through the racks, Buffalo Exchange has an array of affordable used clothing and accessories for men and women along with some high-end items.

More vintage treasures can be found at Yesterday's News, which carries a trove of antique housewares, furniture and stylish threads. –CP

Courtesy, Written by Forest

Baubles and Bags
Shoppers with a passion for shoes, jewelry and handbags will find numerous options in BoCoCa to satisfy their retail urges. For footwear, check out Smith Street's Soula, an emporium of sandals, sneakers and trendy heels, all curated by Rick Lee, who cut his teeth working at Gap and moved on to stints at Barneys New York and Cole Haan. Lee's store is full of men's and women's footwear—from Bed|Stu to Vintage—alongside purses and other types of bags. The more intimate Refinery will leave you feeling good about supporting a small business, as you walk away with some striking handmade messenger bags, purses and pouches, funky jewelry or Sven clogs. For the best in prints and color, head to Teddy on Smith Street, a shop that carries a large assortment of handbags, clutches and wallets as well as clothing, hats, scarves, belts, eyewear and jewelry. For handmade jewelry and some one-of-a-kind gifts, visit Written by Forest, which offers the simple, nature-inspired works of Yayoi Forest and pieces by other indie designers. Similarly high on our list, unpretentious Elleven is filled with antique and fine jewelry and boasts some of the best customer service around. Finally, Cobble Hill's Rivet has added to its well-curated line of fashion and accessories, which now features the beautifully delicate and minimalist jewelry from designer Still House. –Heather Liang

Collier West. Photo: Shannon Kenny

Home Decorating 
In neighborhoods as chic as these, the local shops typically offer home decor that matches the design sensibility of the clothing you can find. On Atlantic Avenue, Sterling Place is an impeccably curated store full of new and refurbished furniture along with a slew of odds and ends that add a playful sophistication to any abode. Greenhouse, on the same block, sells industrial antiques, vintage furniture and cozy bedding and bath products. As its name suggests, the shop only carries items made by environmentally conscious companies. 

Heirloom-quality wares from around the world can be found at Collier West, a boutique that carries handcrafted wood tables, antique baubles, multi-era home accents and more. And stepping into Layla is like escaping to a luxurious retreat. This shop offers carefully crafted jewelry, clothing and housewares from India as well as sumptuous oils and perfumes. Jewel-colored bedsheets, silk clothing and towels in various textures are among the ornate offerings. –CP

Mini Max Toys & Cuts. Photo: Alexander Thompson

Child's Play
The abundance of shopping options in BoCoCa is not just limited to adult selections, as the area provides a significant grouping of stores that cater to the younger set. The adorable duds at Picnic are the invention of owner Lindsey Engler, who spent many years working in Manhattan's Garment District and finally decided to open her own shop. Here, the clothing and the mind-set convey a sense of whimsy and a true celebration of “kids being kids.” Runnin' Wild Toys is an adorable Carroll Gardens emporium that sells toys and games—both recreational and educational—for kids of all ages. While you're there, you can get your child's (or your own!) hair cut by resident stylist Margret. The store also hosts art and music classes. Another spot trying the toys-and-haircuts combo is Mini Max Toys & Cuts, opened by four moms in 2009 and specializing in eclectic, eco-friendly toys. The shop hosts weekly story times plus the occasional bonus session in French.

If your child is fascinated by board and card games, don't miss The Brooklyn Strategist, a haven for gamers. The venue stocks a number of popular board and strategy games, such as Scrabble, Dungeons and Dragons, chess and Risk, but it's much more than a place to browse, purchase and be on your way. The store bills itself as a community-based center, café and social club where those with a passion for board games and cards can gather to network, learn more, improve their skills and generally have a fun time playing together.

If you're hoping your kid will develop a fondness for reading, visit the mom-and-pop shop BookCourt. In business for more than three decades, this old-fashioned bookstore runs special kid-oriented events including regular readings, Q&As and book signings with well-known children's authors—excellent complements to its extensive selection of children's books. –HL

Papél New York. Photo: Alexander Thompson

Craft Corner
Knitting, crocheting, sewing and crafting have become popular pastimes in the City, particularly in Brooklyn, and we've scoured the BoCoCa area for some of the best places to work your finger magic. The aptly named La Casita, Spanish for “little house,” is a knitter's paradise. Comfortable seating, food and beverages, a huge selection of yarns and a social atmosphere make this a setting you'll never want to leave. The shop holds classes for beginners as well as for knitters who are looking to elevate their skills to the next level. Those who enjoy crafting their own jewelry will love Brooklyn Bead Box, the only store of its kind in the borough. The venue offers the obvious item (beads) along with instruction and classes on how to create jewelry; in addition, patrons can use the space (and the shop's tools, for free) to string their own beads. If you're looking for a creative place in which to host a party, visit the Painted Pot—a pottery studio that isn't just for kids. You can arrange events for grown-ups or drop in to unleash your (or your child's) creativity at a moment's notice. With an excellent selection and a knowledgeable and eager staff, Paper Source is the place for all your stationery, printing and crafting needs. The creative possibilities to be found here are endless, and there are store events to boot, such as a crafting contest, demonstrations and workshops. On Court Street, the modern paperie Papél New York stocks stationery, greeting cards, invitations, announcements and small gifts. The store's letterpress cards and customizable invitations can add that special touch to your Mother's Day greeting or thank-you notes. –HL

Courtesy, Grumpy Bert

Fun and Funky
Some rather distinctive stores are based in this section of Brooklyn, selling everything from apparel and accessories to stationery and toys. Carrying only locally made goods, By Brooklyn supports the work of Brooklynites. Shop owner Gaia DiLoreto's store features a sizable variety: artisanal foods, housewares, jewelry, T-shirts and more. The merchandise makes for great presents, particularly for friends and family who live outside of Brooklyn and would like to have a memento of the borough. The friendly folks at Mongo sell a variety of housewares, apparel, accessories and jewelry, along with more unusual items classified as “curiosities” or “miscellania,” making this a surefire place to get some one-of-a-kind pieces. For inexpensive gifts and novelties, head to Exit 9, where you can find something for everyone among its kitschy and fun selections. A few blocks away is Grumpy Bert, which one might not expect to have anything cheery or cute, though it most certainly does. The mom-and-pop shop—owned by an actual Bert, who may or may not be grumpy—stocks artsy gifts, toys, prints, magazines, books and clothes. The venue also hosts art shows and events, including weekly writing workshops. –HL


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