Shopping the Atlantic Mile

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Brooklynites with an appetite for retail are often reminded to “Shop the Fulton Mile.” As a particularly hungry Brooklynite, I admit the first time I stopped into the Fulton Street Macy’s (the place my shopping partner christened “the Macy’s Jesus forgot”) was also my last. Instead of the Fulton Mile, I’d like to recommend another mile or two: Atlantic Avenue.

Boerum Hill has an established and very shoppable stretch of Atlantic, but instead I want to direct some attention to the lesser-known end of the avenue. The westward blocks of Atlantic have had a banner year with big name additions like Barney’s Co-Op at Atlantic and Court Street, and a new crop of small, private boutiques. (And this Thursday, and every Thursday this month there’s an even greater incentive to visit since many Atlantic Ave. shops stay open late and offer discounts, as do the restaurants.)

Though it seems the Co-op could have been born in Brooklyn, it has finally made its way across the river, bringing with it some of the most sought-after downtown chic brands. Arranged by designer, the collection includes pieces from Alexander Wang, Marc Jacobs, r13, a whole lot of Vince, and items from Opening Ceremony’s line. If you can’t afford the real Alexander Wang, it’s likely you’ll find an inspired version at Urban Outfitter’s at a much lower price point.

Further down Atlantic Avenue between Henry and Hicks Street is Goose Barnacle, a new but old fashioned men’s boutique owned by Wall Street banker turned entrepreneur, David Alperin. The boutique (pictured above) carries classic, rugged pieces from Taylor Supply, rarities like textured wool sweaters from Swedish brand Svensson, and works from an established contemporary artist each season.

If that wasn’t enough, Alperin is working on a gender-neutral jewelry line (talent runs in the family: his sister, jewelry designer Marissa Alperin, has her studio a few blocks away on State Street).

A fourth generation Brooklyn native, Alperin has been watching Atlantic Avenue change since his childhood. Alperin grew up in Brooklyn Heights and his family has become an institution in the neighborhood. Members of his family own the Long Island Restaurant and Montero’s Bar and Grill, both places situated within blocks of Goose Barnacle.

“I really don’t know what turned Atlantic Avenue into what’s now a shopping area,” he says. “That’s the most recent transition, Barney’s being the pinnacle of that transition. Like once Barney’s is there, it’s official,” Alperin laughs.

“But I think this is a perfect area for it to happen,” he says more seriously, citing the revitalization of nearby Smith Street and the long awaited Brooklyn waterfront park, with an entrance just steps away from Goose Barnacle.

Another highlight at the end of Atlantic is Holler & Squall, just a few storefronts away from Goose Barnacle. With “Things Unlimited” just under the painted sign on their window, this place is as intriguing as it sounds. Interesting antiques and collectible oddities like old false teeth, bell jars, and vintage toys make the store well worth the walk. It’s like shopping inside of a Tom Waits song.

Many of the newer stores on this end of Atlantic cater to the families in the area: Mini Max Toys & Cuts is a whimsical shop where children can peruse cool toys and get a haircut in a chair shaped like a yellow cab. (They have a nice deal going now, 15% off their “Top 10 Holiday Toys,” which includes a Razor Scooter.)  If you’ve got an environmentally aware kid in your life who demands eco-friendly toys, Nest Egg Kids at Atlantic and Henry is your place. If you are shopping with the fam, you might check out The Moxie Spot by Hicks Street, it’s a cafe and play space designed for wandering toddlers, so you can let your kid run wild without fear of annoying anyone.

So you don’t have to forget Fulton (do as Jesus says, not as he does), but those on your holiday gift list this year might appreciate you adding a little jaunt down Atlantic on their behalf.

Lauren Soroken is your friendly neighborhood shop girl. She lives in Prospect Heights with a very large collection of vintage accessories.

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