To Get Something Special, Go to a Specialty Store

umbrella cane from Rain or Shine
I’m not sure when it happened - That moment when the giant retail stores took over the world with the concept of the “One-Stop-Shop”. But after several decades of ever expanding big-box stores that sell everything from
groceries to swimsuits under one roof, it’s refreshing to encounter a specialty store.

Visiting a store that sells one thing only gives you the opportunity to really focus on what you want and need in the item you’re buying, and also provides you with a wider, more interesting selection. And New York City still has a few of these shops, all of which are worth a special trip.
Instead of grabbing that cheap umbrella from a street vendor at the first sign of rain drops, why not be a little more stylish and carry a chic umbrella that elevates your whole outfit? Nestled in the shadow of Grand Central Station in New York City, is Rain or Shine, a shop that specializes in umbrellas. Beautiful, colorful, fanciful umbrellas from all over the world. They carry umbrellas from designers like Francesco Maglia, Fox, and Jean Paul Gaultier. 

These umbrellas aren’t cheap – their price range from $30 to $250. But one big bonus is that for just a few bucks they will also repair your umbrella if it breaks. Rain or shine also sells beautiful walking sticks and canes as well as parasols.

Father’s Day is coming… wouldn’t Dad look dapper with a new umbrella?

Rain or Shine is at 45 East 45th Street (between Madison & Vanderbilt)
New York, NY 10017I

Fishs Eddy

Give your breakfast or dinner table a little personality by mixing and matching classic old-fashioned dinnerware from Fishs Eddy. Filled with piles of plates, glassware, flatware, serve-ware and linens, this corner store always gives me the feeling of going back to an earlier time-when comfort food was
comforting. They started out selling used restaurant dinner plates and have since expanded to a wide variety of decorative items (Imagine enjoying your morning coffee at home in a heavy, hearty diner-style mug). Most items are sold individually, so you can buy as few or as many as you like.

There are also sets that feature a variety of New York themes – “Bridge & Tunnel”, “Brooklyn”, even “restaurant sanitary inspection grades” (a joke only a New Yorker would get), and also off-beat items like math book themed cups and ceramic serving plates that look like ruled notebook pages.

At the back of the store, there’s a room labeled “Cheap China” where you can find discounted pieces like $2.00 glass saucers, inexpensive every-day glassware, and teapots.

The back-store at Fishs Eddy
Other nice discoveries include a generous selection of old fashioned glass mason jars, vacuum sealed bottles for oils and dressings, glass salt and pepper shakers, beautiful dish cloths with antique designs, and even a few small pieces of rustic furniture.

Fishs Eddy is at 889 Broadway (19th Street), New York, NY 10003 /
For the serious cooks, this store’s specialty is kitchen tools. Heavy cast-iron pots from Le Creuset, juicers, wooden spoons, cutting boards, pepper grinders, mixers, strainers, poachers, high-end chefs' knives and way more than I could list here. There’s even a whole back room dedicated to baking accessories -- rolling pins, cake decorating tools, mixing bowls, silicone baking molds, and a great array of cookie cutters.

Knuckle Pounder Meat Tenderizer from Whisk
A nice surprise to me is their collection of Moroccan cookware (Just to get you in the mood, there’s a cookbook with recipes for couscous).

You can unleash your inner-chef, or make this a gift stop. Pick up a few items to wrap now and give away when those birthdays, holidays and showers find their way onto your calendar.

Whisk is at 933 Broadway (near 22nd street), New York, NY 10010 /
Contributor: J. Davis Kone, NYC

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