Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Type of Place: Gift Shops

When I'm asked what I like most about writing this column, I say it's
the chance to be the "anti-WalMart": to support wholly independent store
owners, designers, and craftspeople who pour their time, energy, and
creative passion into their work. Some design handbags, others jewelry;
some present blown glass from all over the planet; some sell the best
chocolate truffles you could imagine. The folks at Alphaville travel from
coast to coast to find toys and artifacts that their eager customers
remember well but haven't seen in decades. Though Alphaville's offerings
can't quite be described as daily essentials, the warm and personal
spirit of stores like this one does seem essential to preserving our
city's distinct character.

The shop opened in June of 1994, in the location it still occupies:
across the street from the Film Forum, another local treasure. Owners
Steve and Gary decided to use their passion for flea markets and collecting
to create a space where, they explain, shoppers can experience "the
pleasure of finding something they grew up with that they thought they
might never see again." And shopping here is a pleasure for sure: The
displays are inviting, the space is comfortable and not cramped, there's no
high-intensity sales pressure, and prices are a lot more reasonable
than you might expect.

Most items here are from the 1940 to the 1980s. The small girl in me
was thrilled to see a set of Archies drinking glasses ($12.95 each).
Superman and Star Wars trading cards are bargains, starting at 95 cents
each, and cute "flicker" pins (hologram eyes opening and shutting) go for
$5.95. Some great vintage fridge magnets are 3 for $3.50; pristine
vintage sunglasses start at $11.95. If you're looking to decorate, vintage
posters are available from $15. While looking around, my inner late-80s
adolescent enjoyed the Depeche Mode CD being played.

There's a "wish book" available for customer requests. And of course
you can always visit to browse--but be aware that browsing will likely
become a purchase when you see what's here.
  - Pamela Grossman; June 24, 2006

226 W Houston St
(7th Ave. S & Hudson St.)
New York, NY 10014

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