Artisanal Toy Shops in NYC

Let’s face it, Christmas and the holidays are for the kids. Your child or the children of your friends and relatives may have been giving hints to you and Santa all year on what they want for Christmas however I am willing to bet there is a lot of plastic and commercialism in the toys that they desire. It is up to you as an adult of taste, style and global knowledge to help expose the children in your life to quality, artisanal toys that feed their imagination, educate and give back to the world.

The Local Artisan Guide has a few toy stores that are near and dear to our hearts and bring out the inner child in us. When an adult loves exploring a toy store, you know you have found someplace special to share with the kiddos.

Below are a few toy stores in New York City that not only make excellent holiday gift giving for children but are a great place to bring them to let them explore on their own and see how amazing an artisan toy can be which helps foster a socially conscious and more evolved child.

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PLAYING MANTIS - 32 N Moore St., Tribeca, NYC

Playing Mantis is one of those rare throwback toy stores that keep the plastic to a minimum. The shop is full of handcrafted toys made from wood and recycled materials to help inspire kids imagination sans batteries. The back of the store has mini costumes of characters you would find in storybooks and there is a carefully curated library of stories from cultures around the world. Its one of the most eco-friendly toy shops around and will help inspire any child’s imagination.

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TEICH TOYS & BOOKS - 573 Hudson St., West Village, NYC

As you enter the vintage circus store theme, Teich Toys & Books offers children a wide selection of classic and hand-crafted toys and books to inspire and engage their minds. There is lack of plastic and noisy gadgets at Teich replaced by hard to find children’s books with occasional live puppet shows and regular story times.

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KIDDING AROUND - 60 West 15th St., Chelsea, NYC

Kidding Around is a renowned children’s store that has a reputation of one of the best Indie toy stores in New York City. They offer an array of eclectic toys, dolls, and games chosen for their capacity to inspire creativity. The shelves are lined with starter chess sets, science kits, and board games. A plus is the friendly, knowledgeable staff that can help guide you to the perfect gift.

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DINOSAUR HILL - 306 East 9th St., East Village, NYC

Dinosaur Hill is committed to purveying handmade wonderments, toys and clothes that challenge the mind, please the eye, and stimulate the senses. The store is a colorful explosion of toys, reeking of old-school charm and focusing more on character than commercialism with its beautifully made toys meant to last. Their artisanal puppets from around the world are a special attraction at the shop.

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MINI JAKE - 178 North 9th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC

Mini Jake is a modern children's and baby's store, featuring furniture, toys, strollers, clothes, sleepwear, cribs, bedding, diaper bags, mattresses, bassinets and much more. The store is a big draw for the hipster parent that values modern, educational safe, sophisticated and educational toys that the kids will love.

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NORMAN & JULES - 158 7th Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215

This colorful, neat thoughtfully laid out toy store displays a carefully edited collection of well made, beautifully designed, and thoughtful items – while remaining environmentally and socially conscious. Norman & Jules is for the parent who wants to help foster their child’s love of organic, environmentally friendly and sustainable toys.

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FAO SCHWARZ - 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Midtown, NYC

It wouldn’t be a New York City toy shopping guide without the toy store giant FAO Schwarz. Established in 1862, this New York institution just recently reopened their flagship store in Rockefeller Center where it is continuing their tradition of being the world’s most iconic toy store. FAO Schwarz offers a larger than life offering of every type of toy, game, dolls, cars, educational toys and more. It is definitely worth it for the experience (however the multitude of tourists is a little off putting).

These are our top recommendations and are great destinations if you want to raise or expose a child to a more socially conscious, evolved, eco-friendly and sustainable childhood.

By Natalie Rivera





Notable Gift Shops in NYC

Where best to find holiday gifts, especially last minute gifts? A store dedicated to the art of gift giving! Not a brand with a gift section, not a department store with a gift table, we are talking stores that search the world over for gifts or create gifts locally. Here The Local Artisan Guide list ten notable gift shops in New York City that we have come upon while we scour the city for local, independent businesses. The gift shops listed below will guarantee unique, thoughtful, local, artisanal gifts. Best is that every shop mentioned has very affordable items for everyone on your holiday list.

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TOP HAT GIFT SHOP - 245 Broome St., Lower East Side, NYC

Top Hat Gift Shop is the brainchild of Nina Allen which reflects her world travels and her love of modernist, eclectic gifts. You never really know what to expect here at Top Hat which features home goods, stationary, crafts and well…anything that strikes her fancy yet fits into the modern aesthetic of her shop.

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CW PENCIL ENTERPRISE - 15 Orchard St., Lower East Side, NYC

Pencils for a gift! Definitely if they come from CW Pencil Enterprise. CW offers the Cadillac of pencils in every color and grade. Plus in this charming shop you will find pencil accessories, stationary and items you never knew existed but you must have and gift to your loved ones once seen.

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YUNHONG CHOPSTICKS - 50 Mott Street, Chinatown, NYC

Yunhong Chopsticks offers just one thing in their shop, chopsticks. However they offer every variation and price point for their chopsticks. The chopsticks come in different materials, colors and set numbers. All beautifully packaged making for easy, unique gift giving.

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JOHN DERIAN COMPANY, INC. - 6 East 2nd St., East Village, NYC

John Derian has been a destination for the art of decoupage since 1989. You can easily lose a whole afternoon in Derian’s shop browsing through his many designs (which are all done locally a few blocks away in his studio). Derian has added some additional categories through the years including tabletop, small goods, candles, textiles, stationary and more.

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CHESS FORUM - 219 Thompson St., Greenwich Village, NYC

Looking for classic games like chess, backgammon, checkers, dominoes, Chinese chess and much more? Well at Chess Forum you find these items in all variations from casual gaming to over the top, high end sets. Charming part of Chess Forum is that they also have a chess parlor where you can come and for $5 play a game and increase your chess skills ($1 for seniors and kids play for free).

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CONSIDEROSITY - 131 West 4th St., Greenwich Village, NYC

Considerosity is the perfect gift shop for one stop shopping as you can most likely find something for everyone on your holiday list. Considerosity carries a selection of candles, soaps, jewelry, bags, accessories and more. The collection is comprised of a number of artisanal designers primarily from the New York area and around the country.

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THE MEADOW - 523 Hudson St., West Village, NYC

The Meadow was founded by Mark Bitterman in 2006 out of his love of travel, food and culture. He decided to open a shop to share his discoveries of craft made salts, gourmet chocolates, handmade cocktail bitters, accessories and gifts that every gourmand would love and treasure.

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EARTH SPEAKS - 139 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NYC

Earth Speaks is a boutique that offers an array of gifts such as terrariums and air plants, organic skin care products, terrarium jewelry, soap and candles-- all of which are made in-house at their shop in Brooklyn. Earth Speaks also offers locally made artisanal products such as paintings, pottery and jewelry.

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SWALLOW - 361 Smith St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NYC.

Having a hard time finding the perfect gift for that person in your life who has immaculate taste, style and aesthetics? Well Swallow may be the shop for you to find a highly curated gift they are sure to love and not try to return or regift. This petite boutique is full of vases, ceramics, bowls, wall hangings, decorative objects, crystals, sea glass, organic home decor and more. The gifts are so beautiful you will most likely want to keep them for yourself.

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UNION SQUARE HOLIDAY MARKET - Union Square, Chelsea, NYC

Up until December 24th, Union Square Holiday Market is a a must-visit destination for unique gifts created by local craftsmen and artists. With dozens upon dozens of stands. Union Square Market offers up every possible category of gifts from jewelry, to leather goods, stationary, crafts, accessories, home decor, artisanal foods, toys, holiday decor, drinks, snacks and more.

This is New York City so this list is just the tip of the iceberg for unique gift giving but its the local artisanal tip recommended by The Local Artisan Guide so you know its well worth the advice and will also benefit the small, local businesses.

Happy Gift Giving!

By Natalie Rivera