Photo: Arcadia

Neighborhood: Chelsea
Type of Place: Gift Shops

Chelsea's Arcadia has seen quite a few changes since it was reviewed here several years ago. First off, it has expanded significantly and found a new location, though in its original neighborhood. In addition, spa services are now offered--an understandable extension from the yummy bath and body products available. But on the other hand, some things haven't changed: the eclectic stock (from over 40 countries); the possibility of finding bargains among the "investment" pieces; and the relaxed, "Take your time and look around" vibe.

Owner Jay Gurewitsch still presides--and is still very available to answer questions and help shoppers make their way. "There's new stuff here every day," he says, taking some justified pride in the shop's diverse and intriguing selections. Among them: lamp oils from Lampe Berger (in delicious scents like Green Apples and Grapefruit Passion), $19.95; a variety of skin and bath products from Germany's Dr. Hauschka line (which I can personally vouch for, and which is used in the shop's spa); piggybanks (I loved a handmade ceramic one in the shape of a turtle, brought in from Wisconsin, $27.95); a porcelain bowl with an opal interior, from Japan ($14.95); glass plates and platters from Torre and Tagus, starting at $29.95 (I loved the "Groove Azelea" pattern); giant glass marbles (very pretty at $6.95); and a hot pink painted-porcelain teapot, also in turquoise ($29.95, but available only while current supplies last). Candles, a staple of Arcadia's former incarnation, are still here, in a wide variety of sizes and gorgeous fragrances; and jewelry, usually handmade, remains popular.

In addtion to all this, fine art gives the shop a gallery feel. The photography offerings are strong, as is the pottery stock. I spent time admiring Wan-Yi Lin's cut-paper-on-pressboard wall pieces and Neil Devitt's fired ceramic tiles (but, in my gazing, forgot to look at their prices).

Whatever gift item you're seeking--memorable wedding present, fun and/or useful birthday token, personal pick-me-up for your own sweet self--you'll likely find something that works here. And hey: A visit to the soothing downstairs Zen room, with fountains tucked among the pottery and glassware, just might lower the hardest-charging New Yorker's blood pressure--with no medical co-pay required.   - Pamela Grossman; Sept 7, 2008

228 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-5358