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Holiday Shopping Destination: Garden City adds quirky to elegant

Lily Pullitzer bags and blankets at The Pink

Roaming the sidewalks of Garden City’s shopping district reveals a casual — some might say quirky — side of Long Island’s "Fifth Avenue."

Years after Bloomingdale’s and other high-end department stores relocated from Franklin Avenue, which runs through the center of the village, Seventh Street still boasts elegant shops selling clothing for the fashion-conscious. Nowadays you can also pick up quirky gifts at boutiques along the wide boulevard spanning Franklin to Hilton avenues and on nearby streets.

Frequent shoppers, like as Karen Lucas, 64, who walks downtown from her Garden City home, enjoy the variety of shops. On Seventh Street "it’s always easy to find something that’s a little different" Lucas said. "You can food shop, clothes shop, find knickknacks — whatever you want."

Among Lucas’ favorite shops for gifts is Madison’s Niche (186 Seventh St., 516-246-9964, madisonsniche.com). It’s a "lifestyle boutique with everything from newborn baby gifts to home goods, candles, dresses and cozy comfy wear," said manager Janice Corio.

The shop keeps up with current trends, including a rack of cloth masks available in tie-dye, mermaid or animal print patterns in sizes fitting children to adults. There’s also a new gift corner for men who like their holiday cheer in a fancy whiskey glass or a "Drinks well with others" beer mug. Corio said that all merchandise will be sold at a 20% discount on Black Friday and on Small Business Saturday, the downtown shopping holiday held this year on Nov. 28.

"We have a very diverse small-business retail sector with a little of everything," said Dennis Donnelly, executive director of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce.

Donnelly said that to provide holiday sparkle, Garden City’s downtown streets will be once again festooned with garlands and red bows, and shops will brighten their facades to compete in the annual window display contest.

There’s a little bit of almost everything at The Islands, a trio of colorful, adjoining shops (177 Seventh St., 516-248-2481, theislandgc.com). The Pink Island, a Lilly Pulitzer signature store, brims with racks of resort wear by the popular designer. "They’re called ‘happy clothes,’" proprietor Carol Mangels said of the brand’s brightly hued dresses and sweaters.

In the adjacent room within the same space, The Island specializes in Patagonia outerwear, bags and backpacks, Vineyard Vines shirts and jackets and more. Mangels’ third store on the site, The Little Island, caters to children, from infants to age 16, with a specialty in custom embroidery. Fans of all things chocolate or chocolate-covered — the latter including pretzels, Oreos and jelly beans — can stock up for the holidays in The Sweet Island section.

Garden City was one of the nation’s first planned communities, a model town conceived and designed by Alexander T. Stewart, the fabulously wealthy Manhattan merchant. Befitting Stewart’s sartorial splendor, the village also boasts a classic men’s store.

Joseph Tripodi, the shopkeeper at Southampton Blazer and Button Co. (130 Seventh St., 516-741-7524), said he can outfit even the shopping-averse man.

"If you describe the person to me, his height, weight, I have a high batting average of picking gifts," Tripodi said.

Tripodi, who is also the proprietor at Joseph & Joseph men’s clothing next door, said gift shoppers can choose from "thousands of shirts and 400 sport coats, if you want conventional items." He added, "I also carry unique gifts," such as Happy Socks with candy-cane designs and motif belts with sailboat or flag themes.

The pocket-size Secrid wallet, imported from the Netherlands, provides extra security for travelers: a special liner that blocks credit card skimmers at the airport.

Here are more shops to make your holidays merry.

At A.T. Stewart Exchange Consignment Shop (109 11th St., 516-746-8900, thegardencityhistoricalsociety.org), you can find small furniture, china, crystal, lamps and even a mink coat, secondhand and "in excellent condition and at a fraction of their original price," said shop manager Melissa Jaeger. Sales from the volunteer-staffed shop benefit the Garden City Historical Society. Only three customers are admitted at a time; hand sanitizer and gloves are available upon request.

Once Upon a Dish, A Paint Your Own Pottery Store (659 Franklin Ave., 516-742-6030, onceuponadish.com) lets you pick out an unfinished plate, mug or cereal bowl to decorate with a stencil or Pinterest image that will be baked in the on-site kiln in time for holiday gift-giving. There’s a limit of 10 people at a time in the studio.

Coquette (173 Seventh St., 516-873-8180, coquetteonseventh.com). This boutique-style women’s clothing shop sells pants, tops and dresses, as well as necklaces, earrings, bags and other accessories. Monogramming is available for most garments and accessories.

Lacrosse Unlimited (664 Franklin Ave., 516-280-8741, lacrosseunlimited.com) capitalizes on the sport invented by Native Americans of the Northeast that is still booming on Long Island. Pick up sticks, protective gear and more at Garden City’s outpost of the Long Island-based retailer.

An old-fashioned card store, 7th Street Stationery (170 Seventh St., 516-747-7110) also sells affordable stocking stuffers, like Pokémon trading cards and Barbie dolls.

QUICK BITES

The French Workshop (191 Seventh St., 516-248-6800, thefrenchworkshop.com): A long counter displays a gallery of baked goods — fancy pastries (such as opera cake, éclairs and “craquelino,” a decadent morsel made with chocolate cake, caramelized almonds, chocolate ganache and white-chocolate mousse), brownies, cookies, loaf cakes, cupcakes, sweet and savory tarts, pies, cakes, croissants and sandwiches. Guac Shop Mexican Grill (160 Seventh St., 516-274-3380, guacshopmexicangrill.com): Guacamole is but one stop on an assembly line of proteins, toppings, cheeses and salsas that are combined for tacos, burritos, quesadillas and salad bowls — all built to order. Smok-haus (7 12th St., 516-833-6633, smok-haus.com): The menu features brisket, pulled pork, baby back ribs and spareribs. Most meats are sold by the half pound; ribs, in half and whole racks. There are also smoked wings that are subsequently fried for maximum appeal and — on weekends — smoked pastrami while it lasts.

Quick Bites are compiled by Newsday food writers Corin Hirsch, Erica Marcus and Scott Vogel

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