Published on September 6, 2019

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Courtesy of Calhoun & Co.

We geek out over Target’s newest collections and IKEA’s flatpack finds as much as the next person, but while big-box retailers are often the most accessible—and affordable—options, shopping small will always be our favorite way to outfit our homes. For starters, you’re more likely to find unique pieces (that none of your friends already have) in a tiny boutique than you are in the discount section of HomeGoods (all due respect to the treasure trove of kitchenware that is HomeGoods). Then there’s the fact that smaller brands tend to be more transparent and sustainable when it comes to production and packaging.

The advent of the Instagram store has provided a platform for fledgling businesses, but your best resource for discovering little-known places is us. Through our day-to-day work (and some personal Instagram stalking), we’ve built a short list of independent shops—online-only and brick-and-mortar spots—we always turn to for one-of-a-kind finds. Here’s a sampling of our favorites: 

Yowie

“Shannon from Yowie’s Philadelphia store is a staple of the city. With a background in product and design, the store owner–turned–interior designer really has an eye for up-and-coming brands. Highlights include affordable ceramics, great design books, soft goods, and the occasional special collab T-shirt.” — Lily Sullivan, associate special projects editor

Leibal

“I don’t consider myself a minimalist, but Leibal’s pared-down products always speak to me. Its selection is curated, sculptural, and geared toward function, which I love. Think understated statement pieces, like this gritty terrazzo mirror.” — Lydia Geisel, digital editorial assistant

The Primary Essentials

“One of my favorite moments from this summer involved an unexpected cloud burst while killing time one afternoon in Brooklyn. No meet-cute ensued, but I was already in one of my favorite shops and decided it was as dreamy a place as any to wait out the rain. I spent the next hour delicately turning over every bowl and vase to discover new ceramicists, flipping through niche magazines, smelling soaps and candles, examining textiles, and considering how I might reconfigure my personal finances to buy jewelry that I definitely can’t afford. The sun came out, I finished chatting with the knowledgeable and friendly clerk, and carried on with my day.” — Liz Mundle, managing editor 

Calhoun & Co. 

“Maybe it’s the maximalist in me, but in my opinion, a person can never have enough blankets. Calhoun & Co.’s designs are an easy way to test out bold trends and they make for even better gifts. Who wouldn’t want to burrito themselves in a knit ‘beetle party’ throw?” — Joelle Bellini, editorial operations assistant 

MONC XIII

“I tend to shop around a lot, but one store that never fails to leave me inspired is MONC XIII in Sag Harbor, New York. Natasha Esch, the owner, was an interior designer in a previous life. Her store, housed in a lofty, 20th-century, farmhouse-style building, is filled with mid-century Italian and Scandinavian finds. I always leave with at least one scented candle or piece of pottery for my kitchen.” — Gabrielle Savoie, senior home editor

Relationships NYC

“In an ideal world, I’m either buying vintage or from a small brand. Relationships in Brooklyn has an eccentric collection of both these things, plus a solid cup of coffee. I know I’m sure to find something that catches my eye, whether it’s a Milo Baughman–inspired table or a funky hand lamp.” — Rebecca Deczynski, digital editor

Heath Ceramics

“Heath Ceramics has a cult following for a reason. The company was founded by a husband-and-wife duo in 1948 and all the product is still locally crafted in the San Francisco area. If you’ve spent any time looking at interiors on the internet, you’ve seen its tile. But if you’re not working on a kitchen renovation, its ceramics are the way to go. My favorite buy is its tiny bud vases; they’re basically the only housewarming gift I’ll ever give.” — Alyssa Clough, senior social media editor

Tihngs

 

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“Run by artist-collector Eric Oglander (of Craigslist Mirrors internet fame), purposely misspelled tihngs is an Instagram shop featuring incredible antique art objects, most often of the handmade folk variety. It’s become one of my follows for the window it provides into strange, precious items of the past. I currently have my eye on this hypnotically complex trinket box.” — Cyrus Ferguson, membership & market manager

Sounds Brooklyn 

“A coffee shop meets home decor goldmine, Sounds is a diamond in the rough, with everything from artisan-made mugs to coffee table books and even a floral section where custom arrangements are just waiting to be placed in their new home. It’s the perfect stop for all kinds of inspiration, and I bet if you go in, you’ll come out with something special.” — Madeline Montoya, junior designer

Momosan Shop

“From slightly wonky, super-colorful glassware to dainty, rice-straw good luck charms, there’s a lot to love from Momosan Shop. The London boutique curates pieces from artists and designers around the world, so if you want to track down some new makers, it’s the place to check. I’d like nothing more than to leisurely sip a morning espresso from this sunset-hued cup.” — Elly Leavitt, associate digital editor

Enkyu/LikeMindedObjects

“A black-and-white checkerboard column signifies you’ve arrived at this Hudson, New York, gem. It’s a two-for-one deal; designer Elise McMahon of LikeMindedObjects and Enky Bayarsaikhan of clothing line Enkyu share the space. What it lacks in square footage, it makes up for in strange-but-beautiful inventory, like marbleized chairs with tubular backs, patchwork denim jumpsuits, and mirrors shaped like faces. I’ll take one of each, please.” — Lindsey Mather, deputy editor

See more small brands to know:
French Girls Love This Quirky, Color-Filled Concept Shop
Meet the Danish Designer Creating Candy-Like Home Goods Out of Glass
The Cool French Concept Shop That’s Making Us Want a Fleet of $48 Candlesticks

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