Neighborhood: Union Square
Type of Place: Housewares Gift Shops
That old expression, “everything but the kitchen sink” applies very well to Fishs Eddy, New York’s fun, affordable purveyor of basic serving ware (and anything else you might need to set an impressive table).- Joann Jovinelly
The store’s unusual name is a sentimental homage to a hamlet in upstate New York, among the small towns where its owners, Julie Gaines and Dave Lenovitz, once found themselves lost on an impromptu road trip in 1985. During the journey, they stumbled upon a burned-out barn filled with vintage china plates. After asking to purchase a few of the soot-covered dishes, the property owner begged them to haul them all away. Once home, they spent the rest of that weekend cleaning their finds, only to discover the forgotten beauty of a variety of classic American patterns. Better still, every plate was in tact. Dishes just like those—heavy American-made restaurant-quality ceramics—eventually became the cornerstone of the Fishs Eddy store New Yorkers love today, some 25 years later.
Much of what you’ll find at Fishs Eddy are the very dishes and kitchenware items that you coveted when visiting your grandparents: heavy ceramics in bright colors like 1930s fiesta ware, Depression glass, old-fashioned juice squeezers, and that to-die-for cake pedestal. Better still, you can afford all of it, even in multiples if you have the storage space (and even if you don’t, since it all looks great on the counter too).
The store is like an impeccably organized flea market-gone-carnival, brimming over with stacked plates, bowls, and cups, with distinct sections devoted to kitchen tools, barware, glassware, flatware, and other useful accessories. Besides stocking almost anything you could dream of in basic white, Fishs Eddy does incredibly fun original patterns, some in collaboration with famous designers like Nicole Miller. Our favorites are those that celebrate the city, like the whimsical “212 New York Skyline” pattern (a NYC favorite for at least a decade) and the warm-toned “Brooklyn”. Coney Island also gets a nod in “Carnival”. Newer still are the “Alice in Wonderland,” “Bridge and Tunnel” “Polka Dot” and “Green Market” collections, all of which can be mixed and matched or purchased as full sets. Some even come in designer boxes ready for gift giving. Most patterns also have matching glassware in tall, narrow designs that are perfect for cramped urban cabinets.
Fishs Eddy’s vast selection of colorful American-made pressed glass is impressive. Beautiful pitchers, cake pedestals, handsome goblets, and delicate tumblers come in almost every color of the rainbow with prices starting at $10.95 for tumblers and $49.95 for pitchers. Salad and bread lovers won’t feel left out when they come across the store’s affordable wooden and bamboo items like generously sized polished bowls (great for fruit or salad greens, priced from $5.95) and long vessels perfect for serving crackers, a French baguette, or those fancy imported olives. It goes without saying that the store also stocks plenty of honey dippers, dough scrapers, tongs, spoons, and other fine kitchen gadgets typically made of wood.
Our must-have finds include an oversized, double-handled, polka dot soup cup ($10.95), an essential china white egg tray ($13.95), practical glass food storage containers in multiple sizes with tough plastic lids (starting at $3.95), a unique “Admit One” ticket tray ($7.95), and the “Cheer Up” tall glasses set ($22). We also adore the New Yorker mug collection that showcases classic illustrations from the famous magazine ($10.95).
When you stop by, give yourself ample time because there’s much to see. Foodies will be delighted when they get to the kitchen tools section, which is abundant to say the least. Look at the store’s collection of wine and cocktail glasses, assorted cookbooks, fun personal accessories like T-shirts, umbrellas, and tote bags (all embellished with Fishs Eddy graphics from its most popular patterns), and a small selection of placemats, tablecloths, and cloth napkins.
Don’t miss the bargain room nestled in the rear of the store. That’s where you’ll find depreciated quantities of older stock priced to sell. On my last visit they were selling a large number of mix-and-match vintage china plates and platters, most starting at just under a dollar, including cute initial mugs—though unless your name is Walter, Xavier, or Ziggy, you might be out of luck. No matter. You will be pleased with the armload of bargains that you will take home, but save some money for cab fare—dishes can be heavy.