All week long, Metro will be highlighting our selections of the city's best -- from dining spots to spa oases -- of 2012. Check back tomorrow for our picks in health and beauty.
Best shop for tasteful and inexpensive cookware and dishes: Fishs Eddy
889 Broadway, 212-420-9020, www.fishseddy.com
Crockery and cutlery can be attractive even if you're not paying a lot of money for them. For over 25 years, this Gramercy Park staple has been stocking thrifty New Yorkers with on-trend dining and kitchenware -- and even some linens and tchotchkes -- at an affordable price. You can fake it like you shopped at ABC Carpet and Home right up the street.
Best Park Slope spot to pick an adorable baby gift and a great accessory for yourself: Loom
115 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn
This staple of the neighborhood is a gift shop perfectly designed for a hip young Brooklynite on her way to a baby shower: Offbeat but charming children's toys and accessories sit alongside designer purses and cool jewelry that'll snazz up any outfit.
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Best new spot to pick up that baby gift (non-Park Slope variety):Stork
726 Franklin Ave., Brooklyn
If you would have told us five years ago that Crown Heights would have an upscale baby store that sells environmentally friendly toys and boutique clothing, we would have laughed you off. But Stork, which opened in 2011 on a rapidly changing stretch of Franklin Avenue, is a game-changer for the area. The shop sells locally sourced clothes, books and toys for children as well as an assortment of non-toxic household products with an obvious appeal to young parents seeking safer, healthier ways to keep their homes clean.
Best place to pick up stylish patterned stockings: Century 21
Multiple locations, www.c21stores.com
With two locations in Manhattan and stores in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and New Jersey, this legendary discount outfitter is already famous for its prices and selection. But in particular, we're appreciative of its high-quality hosiery offered at equally attractive prices.
Best place to stock up on affordable leggings that have built-in technology to keep you warm:
Multiple locations, www.uniqlo.com
Forget the hundreds of awesome and affordable goods it carries -- the main reason to shop this Japanese chain is for its heat-generating line of base layers. Heattech -- which comes in all sorts of forms, from leggings to a tubetop-like body warmer -- is made from a high- tech fabric that uses the moisture evaporating from your body to generate heat. So go ahead and wear a skirt in 20-degree weather.
New stores that will make you feel like you're shopping in a hip district in Paris: Sandro and Maje
If New Yorkers look a little more chic lately, it's thanks to French labels Sandro and Maje, which arrived stateside at the end of 2011. Both brands, owned by siblings in Paris, feature a feminine-yet-edgy aesthetic and opened boutiques on Bleecker and Prince streets (they can also be found in Bloomingdales). They've become the go-to stores for hip shoppers in search of that effortlessly cool Parisian look.
Brooklyn plant shop not run by unaffected hipsters: Dig
479 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn
Not quite ready to retire but over-working in advertising, Chuck Dorr decided to pursue his passion for landscaping and plants and open Dig. The store is packed with interesting plants, a large selection of beautiful planters and all sorts of vintage doo-dads. But the best part is the friendly service. Chuck, his wife Maggie (who also joined the business) and the entire staff really are happy to make recommendations, repot your latest addition, answer questions and even obsess with you about finding the right color planter for your begonia.
Brooklyn stationery haven that is the embodiment of a Pinterest board: Papel
225 Court St., Brooklyn
Displays featuring artfully arranged streamers and vintage typewriters lure you into this Brooklyn paperie. But once inside, you'll stay for hours looking through the carefully curated selection of charming modern finds, including letter-pressed greeting cards, stationery sets, Japanese masking tape, recipe boxes, wrapping paper and more. If you're the kind to geek out over bakers twine, chevron prints and tape dispensers in the form sewing machines, this precious store has an item -- or 20 -- for you.
Best place to get a new outfit between work and happy hour: De Janeiro
Multiple locations, www.dejny.com
In your inbox is a message from a guy who you've been chatting with on OKCupid: He wants to meet in an hour, and the only change of clothes you brought are your sweaty gym threads. Where to get a cute outfit, stat? De Janeiro, where the styles are on-target and the prices are right. It's no-frills, but whether you're looking for something trendy, like a peplum dress, or something a little more reserved -- nude pumps, anyone? -- you'll find it, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Best place to turn your old T-shirts into a quilt: The City Quilter
133 W. 25th St., 212-807-0390, www.cityquilter.com
We know you don't want to toss your sentimental college tees, but they're taking up loads of space in your dresser. Take a class at City Quilter and you'll learn how to create a blanket you can cozy up in (even if it's just for nostalgia purposes). The shop offers classes for all levels, seven days a week, 50 weeks a year. The newly expanded space also boasts a commercial art gallery just for quilts.
Best store for daydreaming about one day being a millionaire: ABC Carpet and Home
888-881 Broadway, 212-473-3000, www.abchome.com
Spend a long afternoon pining for an $895 ottoman or a $675 set of bed linens at this behemoth, where every floor is a different wonderland. But it's not all for millionaires: We especially love the dainty vintage china (plates are $28-$100 each) and handcrafted Indian frames ($65).
Best place to buy a gift that will mean something to the recipient: Metropolitan Museum of Art store
Various locations, store.metmuseum.org
Your bestie deserves more than a random bottle of wine. Hit the museum shop for unique treasures, everything from pendants to prints. The kids shop boasts educational toys for tykes of all ages and personalities, whether the recipient is a "mini maestro" or "early explorer."
Best place to meet like-minded outdoor enthusiasts: REI Soho
303 Lafayette St., 212-680-1938, www.rei.com/stores/soho.html
The sprawling wood-paneled space is a dream come true for nature-lovers. Find everything for your next excursion -- from tents to mountain bikes to the best-tasting granola bars (that would be Stoats Porridge Oat Bars, by the way, by the cashiers' area). And while you're there, sign up for a group fitness excursion, like a day of skiing or stand-up paddle-boarding. Seasoned REI pros lead each adventure.
Best shop for first-apartment housewares: C. Wonder
Multiple locations, www.cwonder.com
If you like your stuff personalized, C. Wonder is your Mecca. Preppy, pretty goods come at affordable prices at this trendy shop, which just opened a third location at the Time Warner Center. Pick up items for the home and, OK, maybe a new sweater for yourself.
Best affordable-trend-shopping store soundtrack: Forever 21
Hit the trendy chain shop when you're in need of a new party playlist -- the tracks played here are fresh, fun and fitting for any happy occasion. And if you want to pick up a faux-fur bolero while you're there, who are we to judge? It's cheap!
Best place to leave smelling like a million bucks with hostess gifts in tow: Sabon
If the natural griminess of the city leaves your hands a bit sticky, dirty or just plain germy, pop into Sabon to avail yourself of its myriad soap-scrub-lotion combos that'll leave your digits feeling squeaky clean. We dare you to leave without scooping up a patchouli-lavender-vanilla salt scrub for a friend.
Best place to recycle your first-ever iPod: GameStop
Multiple locations, www.gamestop.com
The video game store will take your old iPods, iPhones and other electronics, then pay you in exchange. You get to choose cash or store credit, but the cash amount will be lower than the credit. Still, we'll take any dough we can get off our 2006 Nano.