Cool Gifts Mean Pet Portraits, $6,000 Rodarte, Einstein Memoir

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Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Aedes de Venustas in New York. The beautifully decorated store holds a vast collection of candles, including Cire Trudon and Diptyque.

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Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Aedes de Venustas in New York. The beautifully decorated store holds a vast collection of candles, including Cire Trudon and Diptyque. Close

Aedes de Venustas in New York. The beautifully decorated store holds a vast collection of candles, including Cire Trudon and Diptyque.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Shih Tzu Lucy, one of the Aedes de Venustas mascots along with her friend Romy. Close

Shih Tzu Lucy, one of the Aedes de Venustas mascots along with her friend Romy.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Cire Trudon candles and vaporisateurs at Aedes de Venustas in New York. The popular orange and lavender scented "Manon" is $80. Close

Cire Trudon candles and vaporisateurs at Aedes de Venustas in New York. The popular orange and lavender scented "Manon" is $80.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Left Bank Books in New York specializes in first editions and rare books. Close

Left Bank Books in New York specializes in first editions and rare books.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

A first edition of "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway at Left Bank Books in New York. The book, in its orignal cover, is $5,000. Close

A first edition of "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway at Left Bank Books in New York. The book, in its orignal cover, is $5,000.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Mimi Vang Olsen's pet portrait store in Greenwich Village. Custom portraits are $2,500 and Christmas ornaments $150. Close

Mimi Vang Olsen's pet portrait store in Greenwich Village. Custom portraits are $2,500 and Christmas ornaments $150.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Christmas ornaments by Mimi Vang Olsen, in New York. The glass animal balls are $150 each. Close

Christmas ornaments by Mimi Vang Olsen, in New York. The glass animal balls are $150 each.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

A Christmas box by Mimi Vang Olsen is $150. Close

A Christmas box by Mimi Vang Olsen is $150.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Scarves and hats at Treasure & Bond in New York. Close

Scarves and hats at Treasure & Bond in New York.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

A handmade wool and crystal necklace at Treasure & Bond in New York. Designed by Akong London, it's priced $840. Close

A handmade wool and crystal necklace at Treasure & Bond in New York. Designed by Akong London, it's priced $840.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

A Balenciaga-like cotton bag at Treasure & Bond in New York. The canvas tote features an image of the "real thing." It's $65. Close

A Balenciaga-like cotton bag at Treasure & Bond in New York. The canvas tote features an image of the "real thing." It's $65.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

The Glassybaby store on Hudson Street in New York. The hand-blown glass cups created by the company are $44 each, and come in more than 400 different colors. Close

The Glassybaby store on Hudson Street in New York. The hand-blown glass cups created by the company are $44 each, and... Read More

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Burning Glassybaby candles. Their color changes when they're lit. Close

Burning Glassybaby candles. Their color changes when they're lit.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Opening Ceremony on Howard Street in New York. The fun, multi-brand store offers vibrant high-end fashion goods. Close

Opening Ceremony on Howard Street in New York. The fun, multi-brand store offers vibrant high-end fashion goods.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Fashionable bags designed by Proenza Schouler at Opening Ceremony in New York. Prices start from $1,150. Close

Fashionable bags designed by Proenza Schouler at Opening Ceremony in New York. Prices start from $1,150.

Photographer: Lili Rosboch/Bloomberg

Pieces for sale, including a pair of leopard-patterned faux pony hair shoes at Opening Ceremony in New York, located on Howard Street. Close

Pieces for sale, including a pair of leopard-patterned faux pony hair shoes at Opening Ceremony in New York, located on Howard Street.

Avoid New York’s big stores jammed with fullback shoppers and endless queues.

Cool gifts can be found in less populated neighborhoods of downtown Manhattan.

Aedes de Venustas

Open on Christopher Street since 1995, Aedes de Venustas is a heaven of scents. In a room decorated with burgundy and gold tones reminiscent of a Renaissance canvas, the shop hosts a vast and nicely displayed collection of candles, perfumes and creams.

Brands include Cire Trudon, which lit the intrigues of the 18th-century French court, and the Diptyque line of scented candles. My pick is the latter’s “Tubereuse Rouge” ($90), which combines unrivaled perfume in a fine and simple design.

Not to be found elsewhere are the “Ernesto” and “Abd el Kader” pillar candles ($115) created especially for the store.

Before you leave, meet the Aedes de Venustas mascots, Shih Tzus Romy and Lucy.

At 9 Christopher St. Information: +1-212-206-8674; http://www.aedes.com.

Left Bank Books

This store in the West Village specializes in first editions and other rare books.

It’s where you’ll find a $5,000 first edition of Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” and where you’ll be likely to spend your afternoon browsing, reading, looking and marveling.

The store’s assortment includes signed copies of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and Albert Einstein’s “Out of My Later Years.”

At 17 Eighth Ave. Information: +1-212-924-5638; http://www.leftbankbooksny.com/index.html.

Mimi Vang Olsen

Half-Hungarian, half-Armenian and married to a Danish man, Mimi Vang Olsen has been around since the 1980s, when Greenwich Village was still a neighborhood of writers and artists. “It was colorful,” she told me. “There were many characters, of which very few are left.”

She remains, however, and continues to paint portraits of pets in the same store she has owned for almost 30 years.

You call her up -- she doesn’t use computers -- and she’ll arrange to meet the pet, take photos and discuss the outcome of the work. An oil on canvas in one of several sizes takes a month and $2,500.

For $150 she’ll paint your pet on holiday ornaments and boxes. One image can be done in five days, and you’ll have your pet on the Christmas tree every year.

At 545 Hudson St. Information: +1-212-675-5410.

Treasure & Bond

Treasure & Bond lies on West Broadway in the heart of SoHo and offers a different take on retail and philanthropy, donating all its profit to charities benefiting children.

Passing a larger-than-life piggy bank called Penelope or Oscar (the name hasn’t been decided yet), I graze the loft-like space and its colorful mix of clothing, accessories, home furniture and jewelry. I am tempted by a cashmere scarf ($162), a hat in fun colors ($265) and a bag of very familiar design for $65.

No, it’s not an authentic Balenciaga, but a cotton tote with the front of the designer bag printed on one side, and its back on the other -- much cooler than the real thing.

If you’re looking for jewelry, go for the handmade wool and crystal necklace designed by Akong London ($840). It’s almost a work of art.

At 350 West Broadway. Information: +1-646-669-9049; http://www.treasureandbond.com/site.

Glassybaby

Founded in 2001 by three-time cancer survivor Lee Rhodes, Glassybaby is a great story -- it creates and sells hand-blown glass cups, and gives part of the profits to charity.

The stock in 400 different colors comes from 70 artists working in a Seattle factory. When the cup is used as a candleholder, the colors change as they’re lit.

So far, the company has donated more than $650,000 to charities involved with cancer patients. Each piece is $44.

At 555 Hudson St. Information: +1-917-546-6850; http://www.glassybaby.com.

Opening Ceremony

For trendy, expensive brands head to Opening Ceremony. You’ll find Proenza Schouler’s hip bags, Alexander Wang’s shoes and Rodarte’s dresses in the $6,000 range. There are lace head- pieces, multi-colored sunglasses, silk patterned scarves and pieces by emerging designers, often being shown in the U.S. for the first time.

The second floor features mostly Argentine designers. Worth consideration are a pair of leopard-patterned fake-pony hair shoes ($280), handmade wallets by Arandu and Ale Sly’s small cowhide bags ($115).

Olympia Le Tan’s book-clutches imitate famous literary works. You can have “Madame Bovary” for $1,630 and “The Glass Menagerie” for $1,425.

There’s a sleeveless dress from the 1920s ornamented with real silver beads ($2,530). If it flops, you can sell the silver. I am told it might be worth more than the dress.

At 35 Howard St. Information: +1-212-219-2688; http://www.openingceremony.us.

(Lili Rosboch writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Lili Rosboch in New York erosboch2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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