The Scholastic Store meshes storytime and playtime, sneaking play spaces and interactive kiosks in between stacks of popular children's titles. In Clifford the Big Red Dog's comfy doghouse, parents and kids equipped with toys, books, and pretend play items act out classic Clifford tales, such as Clifford Goes to Law School, before skipping off hand in hand with a Clifford audio book ($9.95). Burgeoning bookworms can schedule bookstore visits to coincide with in-store events to take advantage of free author readings and thrice-weekly storytimes.
Spanish for “the mermaid,” La Sirena is a Mexican folk art store in the East Village, filled to the brim with jewelry, figurines, wood carvings, glasswork, clothing and pottery from all parts of the country. A natural outcrop of owner Dina Leor’s passion for all things Mexican, La Sirena is arguably one of New York’s most colorful shops, both for the bright palette of Mexican arts and crafts and quirky products that cover nearly every inch of the yellow walls, literally spilling off the shelves along the shop’s single aisle. A particular favorite for celebrators of the Day of the Dead, La Sirena sells an array of skeletal-pop-culture themed tchotchkes.
For more than 25 years, Bettertex Interiors has outfitted living spaces with custom fabric options offering expert upholstery, drapery, and custom furniture services. Free in-home consultations help their staff gain a better understanding of each space and help make every room metamorphosis a personalized experience. Customers can commission Bettertex to reincarnate dining-room chairs ($80, approximately), midsize ottomans ($250, approximately), average-sized chairs and sofas ($450–$600), and large sofas ($900+). In addition to removing old fabric and installing custom options, Bettertex will extend the life of furnishings by replacing broken springs, installing new cushioning, and spritzing it with a repellant that keeps sharks out of living rooms. All prices listed here are for labor costs only, but homeowners can procure approximately 15–20 yards of fabric for $250.
Helmed by a duo of Greek sisters, the Chios-originated mastihashop stocks a thoughtfully sourced assortment of pastas, sauces, spreads, and body-care products. Several of mastihashop's products incorporate mastiha, a Greek tree-derived sap that has been found to have therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Sip Mastiha and Vanilla Salep, a creamy beverage crafted from wild orchid root ($5.50) or snack on fluffy lemon cookies flavored with the tart citrus harvested from the Greek island of Chios ($9). Shoppers can also find specialty oils, gift baskets, fair-trade body products, and all-natural cosmetics.
Step into The Boiler Room, and you’ll be greeted with the clacking of billiard balls rather than the cacaphony of steam boilers chugging away. Thankfully, there are no actual boilers—and no cover charge, for that matter—at this gay-friendly dive bar in the East Village. There are, on the other hand, weekly festivities such as Monday’s Old Skool party and two happy hours per night.
Settle into one of many urbanized nooks in the expansive reaches of Karaoke Boho, where private brick-lined lounge rooms come fully furnished with top-quality speaker boxes and crisp flatscreens. This generously sectioned-off space provides you and your backup singers the freedom to let loose on the mics with the safety of a buffer between you and crooning karaoke strangers. To loosen up the vocal chords, order some courage-boosting liquid concoctions such as melon balls, martinis, Long Islands, and other fine spirits ($7–$12 each).