There’s something wonderful about the East Village boutique Love Shine that just makes you happy all over. Maybe it’s the store’s blast of color, or finding that even the most budget-conscious among us can afford its unique charms, but my guess is that your happiness quotient just doubles once you’re near artists/owners Mark Seamon and Richard Green. Besides being joyful and happy to answer questions, they welcome you inside the store as if it was their living room and then wax poetic about the local and far-flung artists who make its vast array of fun and funky wares, T-shirts, knits, and jewelry.
Once inside, linger among Love Shine’s variety of handmade dop kits, duffles, messenger bags, and carry-alls, some made with durable, all-weather oilcloth, many others with cotton print and canvas. Priced from $30, they come in a multitude of designer patterns and bright colors, all equally capable of breaking up the grayest urban landscape. They can also be custom-designed in your choice of fabrics and were once the cornerstone of Love Shine’s business, which started in 1996 from the basement of an apartment in Spanish Harlem. We love the make-up bags that come in matching sets of two, three, or more, depending on your cosmetic and toiletry haul.
Now that you have your bag of choice, be sure to fill it with a mix of delightfully unexpected treasures such as Mexican milagros, tiny religious charms that are meant to petition saints for help, guidance, and protection, priced from $2. Larger milagros line the antique tin walls of the shop, which give patrons ideas for making their own fantastic décor at home. Glass keepsake boxes priced from $22 feature iconic images and are available in a variety of sizes. Other inexpensive imports from Latin America include ceramic skull votive heads ($18), rattles ($6), dramatic Mexican wrestling masks ($25), and skeleton finger puppets ($4 or $18 for five).
Next, check out Love Shine’s selection of locally and nationally sourced designer jewelry, especially Hotcakes’ line of glass bubble pendants that feature unusual images of birds and insects, priced from $60. Look for delicate chandelier earrings, oversized chunky rings, and a nice collection of bracelets—many one-of-a-kind affordably priced pieces that will have all your friends asking, “Where did you get that? I want one!”
You’ll be one smart cookie if you grab something from Love Shine’s selection of hand-knit items, all fair-trade imports from the Himalayan region of Asia. The Tara line of knits features colorful scarves for men and women, purses, sweaters, gloves, mittens, sock monkeys, and even flower pins. Look up to see local artist Kris Amel’s “Salvaged Sprites,” cute little handmade fairies assembled from found materials that hang from several corners of the store ($22 - $34). Buy one or two to hang from your rearview mirror, disco ball, or holiday tree; no matter their placement, they’re a sure hit with friends, co-workers, and kids.