Filled with malls, luxury retail centers and outlet stores, Long Island is an ideal shopping destination. But if you're looking for unique gifts and want to avoid the crowds, it pays to stray from the beaten path. There are enough small local shops where you can find something for everyone on your shopping list this holiday season. Here are a few ideas:
For the trendsetter
This fashion-forward shop, just opened in its new location, is geared toward trendy women of all ages. You'll find handbags, jewelry, shoes and clothing that look like they belong in a Los Angeles boutique -- but for much lower prices. The walls are decorated with outfits for inspiration, and the style-savvy staff offers a personal-shopper experience, sizing you up and putting together looks based on your style.
Hot for the holidays: "We call this the magic jean," sales manager Melissa Ostrove says as she points out a rack filled with Blank NYC denim in various fits and colors. "There has not been anyone I've put in them that they haven't fit." Owner Linda Levinger wore a flare style, noting that her 16-year-old daughter and friends love them as much as she does. "People are so excited to find a jean that fits well, washes well and is affordable," Levinger says. The jeans ($72 to $88) come in classic denim blues, greens and raspberry-pinks and are coming soon in jewel tones. Kids are lining up for Malibu Sugar's cropped camisoles (also known as "spandos") in tie-dye ($14) and bright solids ($7) with matching booty shorts ($16 to $20), the perfect size for stocking stuffers.
Tip: Take notice of the scarves, placed around the store atop different outfits. Levinger and Ostrove hand pick one-of-a-kind scarves for the store, so there are lots of styles you may not find anywhere else around town. They range in price from about $22 to $48.
For the sporting set
Where: 2487 Main St., Bridgehampton, wampumny.com, 631-537-6007
What: Brothers Lennon and Marley Ficalora grew up in Montauk as a part of the Hamptons skater scene, and they opened their Bridgehampton shop to give the community a mix of high-end skateboarding brands and local flair.
Hot for the holidays: "The classic Wampum shirt and our artist-designed shirts have been some of our best-selling items," Marley says. The Wampum shirt ($20) comes in multiple colors and is hand-printed with a shout-out to Bridgehampton. Other T-shirts are printed with logos by Long Island artists, such as the Two Hawks Shirt ($40), a vintage style created for local skaters by East Hampton artist and surfer Charles Ly.
Tip: While you're there, check out jewelry boutique Helen Ficalora, by Lennon and Marley's designer mom, located right behind Wampum. Her delicate gold flowers and butterflies and her simple, feminine letter charms (she was credited with starting the monogram trend back in 2003) have made her a celebrity favorite, citing Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway and Katie Holmes among clients.
For the glitzy diva
What: This affordable new boutique is all about accessorizing, with sterling-silver designer-inspired jewelry, vintage-style clutches and evening bags, scarves, watches and hats for men and women.
Hot for the holidays: MIMIXX's glamorous red stone drop earrings ($21) are so popular this season, they are featured in the December 2011 issue of O! Magazine. These sparklers come in a variety of colors and are made of nickel and lead-free base metal.
Tip: The store is jam-packed with accessories and can be overwhelming at first glance, but owners Mike and Leslie Eichen go out of their way to make sure clients find what they need. At two for $10, the knitted headbands make cute stocking stuffers, keeping ears warm with a girlie touch.
For the suit-and-tie guy
Where: 261 Main St., Huntington, 631-923-2242
What: This classy Main Street shop carries handmade Italian ties, trousers, sports coats and dress shirts manufactured by the store's own brand.
Hot for the holidays: The store's nautical-stripe Southern Tide Skipjack polos ($98) are top-sellers, says owner Joseph Tripadi. "The preppy look is in, and this shirt is a very preppy, collegiate looking item." The long-sleeve polos come in a variety of colors, one of the most popular being a Regal Purple and Cajun Yellow combination.
Tip: A second location is at 130 Seventh St. in Garden City under the name Southampton Blazer & Button Co. Both stores carry similar merchandise, but the Huntington store caters to a more high-fashion crowd while the Garden City location focuses on prep. At J. Ogilvy, get three sports shirts or dress shirts for $299 year-round.
For the preppy girl
Where: 177 Seventh St., Garden City, 516-248-2481
What: The only Lilly Pulitzer specialty shop in the area, The Island is a preppy girl's paradise. Filled with feminine frocks, tailored tops, accessories, home accents and a must-see kids section, you'll walk into this store a girl and come out a lady.
Hot for the holidays: The Lilly Pulitzer wristlet ($38) comes in three colorful prints and is the perfect size for storing a cellphone, has an attached key ring and slots for ID, credit cards and cash, and includes a pocket for lip gloss.
Tip: The Island's location can make it tough to stumble upon, but just walk behind Dunkin’ Donuts on Seventh Street toward the parking lot and you'll find it in its little alcove.
For the rebel
Where: 66 Main St., Northport, 631-261-2080
What: Veronica Rayne sells a mix of well-known labels and edgy, one-of-a-kind creations by independent designers, including everything from Jeffrey Campbell boots and textured leggings to outerwear and party dresses. "Quality fabric, modern design and a flattering silhouette ... that's what it's all about," owner Carlene Afetian says.
Hot for the holidays: A unique gift item this season is the scarf shrug ($55) that keeps your neck and body warm while making an original fashion statement.
Tip: New styles are constantly coming in from local artisans, top designers and Manhattan showrooms for an eclectic combination that's tough to find elsewhere on Long Island. Afetian selects the merchandise herself and her loyal following depends on her to revamp their wardrobes each season.
For the home
SAMANTHA DREW INTERIORS
Where: 305 Main St., East Setauket, 631-941-4663
What: Just reopened after a fire in June, Samantha Drew Interiors is ready for the holiday season with Christmas greens, mica-glass glitter trees, cozy furniture and accents for every style home, from rustic to modern. Owner Michelle Mancuso also offers professional interior design services.
Hot for the holidays: Crystal candlesticks, $69.95 for 7 inches and $89.95 for 11 inches, are a favorite for winter home decor, Mancuso says. They are sold separately, not in pairs.
Tip: Samantha Drew's website is launching soon, but fans can turn to its blog now for a series of holiday home tips from local event planner Laura Mastriano of LA Productions, including how to create the holiday ambience with everything from aroma and taste to music and lighting. Eggnog French toast, anyone?
For the kids
Where: 15 E. Main St., Babylon, bubblelearning.com; 631-587-0050
What: This eye-catching store is a popular gift-shopping spot in town for babies through 12 years. It sells clothing, accessories, jewelry, toys and books, and it offers such customized items as crystal and sterling-silver name bracelets and monogrammed rollneck sweaters.
Hot for the holidays: Just because they're little doesn't mean kids can't be on trend. Bubble's faux-fur jacket ($52) is not only fashionable, it's cuddly and warm for the winter ahead. The collection also includes matching vests, hats and mittens for boys and girls.
Tip: Throwing a kid-friendly party this holiday season? Bubble specializes in personalized party favors.