We’ve always been fascinated by stores that defy the rule of business diversification and focus on only one product. Inspired by the new Rice Krispie Treat store on the Upper West side, we’ve rounded up our favorite one-item purveyors, focusing on the quirkier items you can find in New York City.
1. Yunhong Chopsticks (50 Mott Street, Chinatown)
If you’re only going to sell chopsticks, Chinatown is probably an ideal place for your store to be located. But for the most part, these aren’t the every day chopsticks families use at home, these are beautifully packaged gift items. Our favorite thing though is how the product offerings on their website (called happychopsticks.com) are organized by how many pairs of chopsticks each set comes with, not by aesthetics.
2. Tender Buttons (143 E. 62nd Street)
The shop Tender Buttons between Lexington and 3rd Avenue shifts the priorities of value by emphasizing not on the mass-manufactured, bigger-is-better attitude, but on the personalization of the things that matter — buttons.“I can’t tell you how many buttons we have in this store,” owner Ms Safro told us. “We get asked that question so many times, but we can’t even ballpark a number.” The buttons, which come from all over the world, are mostly categorized into colors and materials except for the most prized collections hanging on the walls. (Update: As of 2019, this store is temporarily closed).
3. Heatonist Hot Sauce Store (121 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn)
Who doesn’t love hot suace? Heatonist in Williamsburg is devoted completely to selling hot sauce, with options coming from all over the country as well as those made locally here in New York City. The shop has a large backyard space for events which has a fire pit for BBQs. Owner Noah Chaimberg hopes to help locals and local businesses diversify their knowledge of hot sauce offerings, which we think is a noble a goal as any.
4. CW Pencil Enterprise (100B Forsyth Street)
CW Pencil Enterprise sells almost only pencils, with accompanying pencil related paraphernalia). With a pristine white interior infused with pop colors from the pencils themselves and a retro yellow chair, it’s like a creative space you wished was in your own home.
The collection of pencils at CW Pencil Enterprise include those dating from the 1920s and 1950s, and more obscure ones are collected through a variety of methods–by friends in other countries, auctions or other collectors. The collection of pencils is also available for purchase online, along with accessories like sharpeners, displayed in glass cases in the shop, erasers, stylish notebooks and a pencil case.
5. The Fountain Pen Hospital (10 Warren Street)
The Fountain Pen Hospital has been open since 1946. While the shop also sells writing accessories, it’s main focus is on fountain pens. The display inside the store are like jewelry cabinets, but for pens! Also fun–on the website there’s a “Back Room” for vintage pens from the 1970s on that are for sale.
6. 8 Bit and Up Video Games
Located on East 3rd street, 8 Bit and Up is a real time capsule to the ’80s and ’90s video game scene. Situated in the basement floor, the shop is packed floor to ceiling with retro games and consoles, including Atari, PS1, Gameboy, and more, and old school arcade games like Street Fighter II.
If you’re a video game pro, 8 Bit and Up holds regular tournaments so you could meet and compete against fellow junkies. They also host birthday parties, rock band karaoke nights, and even corporate press events. The lack of windows, the low ceilings, fluorescent lights and concrete floor seem to recreate our memories of multi-night Counterstrike marathons.
7. Meadow, A Specialty Shop for Salt
Gourmet specialty shops in Greenwich Village are par for the course, but few are this specific. The Meadow, an entire shop specializing in salts as well as salted chocolates and bitters, turns selecting the right salt into an art.
Walking into the Meadow at 523 Hudson Street is, at first, overwhelming: rows upon rows of salt varieties tower on your right before you even notice their wide selections of chocolates and bitters. No one country dominates as a source: many of their salts are from France, but these seasonings truly come from all over the world. If you go in searching for a salt from Cyprus, Bali, India, or Slovenia, you will find it.
Read more about The Meadow here.
7. Joanne Hendricks Cookbooks (488 Greenwich Street)
Don’t be fooled by this quaint little store housed in a charming 200+ year building in Tribeca. Some of the cookbooks at Joanne Hendricks Cookbooks cost over $4000! And some book are older than the building itself. It also seems like the experience in the store is only rivaled by the interactions with Joanne herself, which based on Yelp reviews, can be curt and uninviting. But, it’s hard to imagine a traditional person as the proprietor of such a unique, niche shop.
8. The Ink Pad (37 7th Avenue)
If you walk down 7th Avenue while heading into Greenwich Village, you may miss this gem. The Ink Pad is a small store located on 13th Street entirely devoted to decorative rubber stamps. The Ink Pad has all kinds of rubber stamps from tacky christmas greetings to elaborate sketches. All the staff in this store are avid stamp collectors and crafters. “The Ink Pad” also offers events and classes. For another option, there’s also Casey’s Rubber Stamp. Read more about both spots here.
9. Modern Pinball (362 3rd Avenue)
If you’re really into pinball, you’ll be pumped by Modern Pinball in Kips Bay which only has pinball machines. It’s mission statement:
We’re Modern Pinball NYC – dead-set on becoming the premiere pinball machine retailer and Interactive Showroom. “What’s an Interactive Showroom?” you may ask! It’s a new concept that allows you to pay-one-price to enjoy all the amazing, cool and wonderful fun that is pinball! Plus, whatever you spend can be applied toward the future purchase of a game from us! Pinball bliss!
You can apply your winnings to the ownership of a pinball machine which range between $1500 and $12,000.
10. Spandex House
Just in case you were short on Spandex, along 38th Street in the Garment District are bothSpandex House and Spandex World, both filled with all the Spandex one could desire. Spandex House claims to be the “One of the Largest Spandex Collection of The World,” while Spandex World isn’t quite as boastful, “specializing in high-quality spandex.” A step inside is worth it, with types of spandex you probably haven’t dreamt of: printed tie-dye, stretch sequin, giraffe skin, and the latest of printed skulls, just in time for Halloween.
Bonus: Uke Hut
Billed as the “first ukulele store in New York,” Uke Hut is also the only ukulele specialty store in the city. Located on a nondescript block of Astoria, the tiki lamp and the musicians frequently seen performing at the entrance make it hard to miss.
Next, check out these combination coffee shops in NYC where you can get a coffee with a side of something more surprising.