Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! And this year I think we can all get behind any reason to bring love and joy into our lives. Whether you celebrate with a romantic partner or your best pals (that’d be Palentine’s Day), a surprise gift can elicit warm & fuzzy feelings. So we’re sharing this guide full of fun local options. No run-of-the-mill gifts here! Your valentine will appreciate getting something unique – and you’ll be supporting the local businesses who need our support now more than ever.
For Your Foodie Friend
From their shop on Grand and Essex, the Pickle Guys are keeping Lower East Side traditions alive while incorporating their own modern-day zest. Sure you can get your standard sours, half-sours and dill, but the shop’s giant barrels offer much more – pickled garlic, pickled pineapple, and pickled mango are a few of the less conventional options. They’ve got delicious condiments, too. Load up a few of their fun branded jars and you’ve got a totally unexpected gift – and a full stocked pantry for all those home-cooked meals we’re making these days.
They ship across the country! Visit the Pickle Guys website or get that mask on to stop by their shop at 357 Grand Street.
For the Ceramics Fiend
Wing on Wo first opened in 1890, selling porcelain ware as well as general goods, meat and herbs. The business has stayed in the family to this day and now focuses on high quality and intricately decorated porcelain items. Their plates, tea cups, serving bowls, carafes and more are highly versatile and useful, but it’s their stunning beauty that would make anything from this shop a perfect gift.
The shop warns that online orders are slightly backed up these days, so visit Wing on Wo’s website and order something ASAP!
For Your Friend Whose Instagram is Full of Quirky City Photos
Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York is the holy grail for anyone obsessed with old New York, storefronts or vernacular design. These days, flipping through the pages of this book is like a walk back through everything that the coronavirus pandemic has paused. James and Karla Murray’s vibrant photographs are paired with thoughtful insights from business owners and New Yorkers about what makes our local communities so special. Also – we can’t miss the chance to mention that James and Karla have also taken some stunning photos of our sanctuary for the blog 6sqft.
For a Traditional Candy-Centric Valentine’s Gift
Economy Candy has been satisfying Lower East Side sweet tooths since 1937. And while they say business has slowed since the pandemic, they’re working hard to make sure their eclectic selection is still available for candy lovers everywhere. Their website makes it so easy to fill your cart with your favorites – and you can even browse by candy color to make a curated, and highly Instagramable, package. Or take the guess work out of it by choosing one of their themed Candy Care Packs! They do holidays, like Valentine’s Day, as well as basic candy packs and even a fun Movie Night option.
For Your Design-Minded Valentine
Coming Soon just recently relocated from their shop on Orchard and Hester to a bigger corner location on Orchard and Canal. Which (hopefully) means they’ll have even more room to collect their quirky mix of high-design furniture and playful home goods. If you’ve got a valentine who appreciates a little postmodern edge to their style, Coming Soon has the gift for you. You can get something quite high end there, but they have more affordable gifts, too, like drinking glasses, incense, puzzles and more.
For the Valentine with a Taste for the Traditional
Let’s face it – it’s the dead of winter, we’re (mostly) stuck inside, and we could all use a little carb comfort. So order yourself some knishes from an absolute neighborhood legend – Yonah Schimmel. Personally, I think there’s nothing better than a spinach knish and lime rickey enjoyed at their historic storefront. But until the pandemic is over, I’ll opt for their shipping option to get my carb fix. Order their “cocktail knish” package to surprise your valentine with an ultra-LES happy hour from home.
Browse Yonah Schimmel’s website for their full menu and (nationwide!) shipping options.
When Your One True Love is New York City
We were fans of the Bowery Boys even before their episode on the Museum at Eldridge Street. Hosts Greg and Tom bring a sense of joy, curiosity and respect to every one of their New York subjects – whether they’re exploring the development of Brooklyn Heights, the history of the bagel, or the music biz on Tin Pin Alley. They’ve recorded more than 275 episodes! And all this fabulous work is sustained through listener support – monthly memberships begin at just $3. Members get the satisfaction of supporting great work from local New Yorkers as well as exclusive content, special episodes, stickers, mugs and more!
Memberships start as low as $3/month! Purchase one on the Bowery Boys website.
Streaming with a Modern Moviehouse
The city’s movie lovers (myself included) are struggling right now – and our theaters are, too. So a membership to Ludlow’s Metrograph theater is a great gift this year. Not only will you get access to special screenings, guests and other livestream content, but you’ll be supporting the theater while we wait to come back in person. Metrograph shows movies – both new releases and older films – that you often can’t find anywhere else in the city. Their livestreams will surely add some excitement and variety to your at-home movie nights.
You can join their community of movie lovers with month-to-month or annual membership options! Visit their website to sign up.
Valentine’s Sweets, Even for Your Vegan Friend
Gotta have sweet treats on Valentine’s Day! Owner Adir Michaeli once ran the kitchen at famed Breads Bakery, and his expertise now fills the cases at Michaeli with best-in-NY caliber treats including burekas, challah, and rugelach. They also offer really unique options, including gluten-free cakes, a super chocolately vegan babka, and a fluffy kugelhulpf. You can even get a gift card to let your valentine pick their own poison.
Michaeli Bakery is at 115A Division Street. If you’re in their delivery zone, you can get their treats brought right to your door! Or stop by the cafe everyday but Monday (hours may change due to the pandemic so check before you visit!) to browse in person.
Looking for more gifts from Chinatown businesses? Welcome to Chinatown has their own neighborhood gift guide. It even includes pro tips so you can know what the locals know!