A taste of Brooklyn’s industrial past awaits in DUMBO, where local artists, artisans and entrepreneurs have brought new life to the neighborhood’s retired factories, warehouses and dock storage houses. Aptly named for its location along the East River Waterfront — Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass — DUMBO began its resurgence as an artist enclave in the 1970s and is steadily building its reputation as a start-up hub.
A bit sleepy after sundown, the neighborhood is better fit for an afternoon of browsing local shops and boutiques. Before the sunsets, though, head to Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can relax on a bench (or a “galloping” horse on the historic carousel) and watch the sky alight in pink, orange and purple hues.
But first, lace up your shopping shoes and hit the streets. Below is our guide to the seven must-stop shops in DUMBO.
Symbolic of both DUMBO’s small, neighborhood vibe and undercurrent of creative energy, the lifestyle boutique TRUNK is a collaboration between three independent designers: Aimee G, Radka Design and Samoy Lenko. The founders, who also happen to be friends, spread their passion for creating, manufacturing and shopping locally by also selling products from other local designers. The owners are often working and creating on site and excited to chat with customers about their selection of jewelry, women’s wear, accessories, art and furniture.
68 Jay Street #101
An extension of a local interior design firm, Modern Anthology caters to the classic masculine lifestyle (and female fans who veer toward a pragmatic and timeless aesthetic). Like a never-ending collection of stories, the boutique’s selection of clothing, home and personal accessories, and vintage furniture is constantly evolving. The founders’ design approach tends toward a sense of “timeless integrity” – high quality products, with a stylistic nod to the past. Standbys include grooming essentials, like Baxter from California skincare made specifically for men and locally made Babe of Brooklyn Beard Balm. Ask staff for their current favorites or browse for finds, ranging from brass flasks and key rings to parkas to sunglasses with a vintage edge.
68 Jay Street
Front General Store
Nestled within Front Street’s collection of unique shops, Front General Store is home to a museum-like array of old and new. From floor to ceiling, shelves are lined with international finds that intermingle with classic Americana: pottery and candles, leather boots and jackets, canvas bags, beaded necklaces, rustic desk lamps, and cases filled with vintage glasses and watches. When you inch your way around the store, you’ll find curiosities like colorful, hand-knit elephants and giraffes called Twoolies, modernized renditions of traditional Mayan craftwork. Though a walk through is entertaining in itself, if you can, set aside ample time for treasure hunting.
143 Front Street
Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop
A few doors down from Front General Store lives another unique find: Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry shop is the only bookshop in New York City dedicated solely to poetry. The mindfully curated collection aims to cast a spotlight on small press chapbooks and books you may not find anywhere else, ranging from illustrated children’s poetry books to stapled chapbooks to high art limited editions. If you’re interested in a more intimate experience, check the events calendar online for readings and discussions.
141 Front Street
The POWERHOUSE ARENA
The award-winning publisher powerHouse Books’ boutique, bookstore, exhibition space and soon-to-be bar and café remains a go-to spot, despite the ease of one-click purchase on Amazon. The literary, arts and cultural hub caters to a range of interests, from literary classics and hot reads to fine art and photography collections to cookbooks. For little ones (or those forever young at heart), the children’s book corner is a wonderland brimming with classic collectibles and new, fun finds. Check out the events page if you’d like to pair your shopping experience with an exhibition launch or reading.
28 Adams Street
Jacques Torres Chocolate
To recharge, head to Jacques Torres Chocolate to see for yourself why the former Le Cirque pastry chef and food television host’s chocolate chip cookies are world famous. Chocoholics, be forewarned. Once inside, you’ll be surrounded by a tantalizing array of handcrafted chocolates: a mix of traditional and creative concoctions made locally, from natural ingredients, at his chocolate factory in the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal. Champagne truffles? Salted caramels? Dark chocolate bark? Or, for a sippable sweet with a crave-worthy kick, try the slightly spicy Wicked Hot Chocolate.
66 Water Street
Two Kids and a Dog
If you’re searching for a gift for the little people left behind at home (or those dragged along all day), head to this one-stop-shop for all things kiddo. The family business is brimming with toys, apparel, shoes, gear and gifts all hand-selected by the owners, based on their own experience…raising two kids and a dog. Their go-to brands include Melissa shoes, Ocra, Peppercorn Kids, Blu Pony Vintage and Patagonia Kids. Toys abound, ranging from puppets and building sets to scooters and art supplies. Out front, hop on a kiddy ride – Spider Man, carousel horse or motorcycle – for a flashback to simple, childhood bliss.
61 Pearl Street