Exploring the boutiques of Tribeca and Soho

Whether it’s monographs for sale at a furnishings showroom or CDs at a clothing store, many of the independently owned shops downtown provide a retail experience beyond the obvious goods — and despite the continuing encroachment of national chains. Here are some shopping highlights across different price ranges in the neighborhoods south of Houston Street. And on fair-weather days, keep in mind that street-side opportunities abound. (Check websites for hours of operation.)

Clio This whimsical home store is particularly beloved by couples seeking post-modern options for their registry. The goods come from all over, such as “crinkled” porcelain cups from Holland or the Rehabilitated Dinnerware from Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Cihat, who reglazes vintage dishes into one-of-a-kind pieces. 92 Thompson St. clio-home.com

Ina A consignment shop with a number of locations downtown for both men and women. All the merchandise is carefully vetted, and drop-offs are by appointment, so these are hardly back-of-the-closet castoffs. inanyc.com

Market NYC The wares can be hit or miss, the dressing rooms improvised, but half the fun is exploring the space (a church gymnasium) for finds. 268 Mulberry St., themarketnyc.com

McNally & Robinson An independent bookstore by way of Canada. Besides its two floors of literary excitement, there’s an organic cafe to rest your weary feet after a hard day of downtown shopping. 52 Prince St., mcnallyrobinsonnyc.com

Michele Varian Known for her home accessories, the designer has since expanded into limited-edition handbags. In her Crosby Street boutique, you’ll find artfully crafted pieces with a touch of Victorian macabre (plenty of skull, bat and bird motifs). 35 Crosby St., michelevarian.com

MoMA Design Store The downtown outpost of the museum’s gift shop, this location goes beyond mere souvenirs: Scandinavian housewares by Aalto and Jacobsen upstairs; books and larger furniture downstairs. Best part: No one frowns if you test the goods. 81 Spring St., momastore.org

Moss You’re neither encouraged nor allowed to handle the objects in this museumlike design shop, but the pieces on offer inspire more amusement than resentment. The shop takes itself seriously, but winks knowingly — for $10 you can purchase a “please do not touch” mouse pad, which is probably more in grasping distance than a Swarovski crystal glitterbox chandelier. ($49,000). 150 Greene St., mossonline.com

New Museum The latest addition to downtown’s retail and art scene. The compact lobby shop offers everything from media (art journals, books and DVDs) to limited-edition collectibles; their Top Shelf service provides made-to-order furnishings. The store’s selection of housewares is edgier than what you’d find at the MoMA’s shop, as with this “Salome Coffee Set” by Antonio Murado (pictured). 235 Bowery, newmuseum.org

Opening Ceremony This U.S. outpost of U.K. chain Top Shop also stocks designs from its own label. The selection is ever-changing. In recent weeks, it played host to designs by Chloe Sevigny. 35 Howard St., openingceremony.us

Pearl Paint For confidant DIYers, this craft annex across the street from the main store offers all sorts of paints and rickrack. 42 Lispenard St., pearlpaint.com

Pearl River Mart If you can get beyond the Buddha statuary and bamboo, head upstairs to the furniture section, which offers a selection of nicely designed teak. Also, plenty of rice-paper lanterns — the poor man’s Nelson bubble map. 477 Broadway, pearlriver.com

R 20th Century Museum-quality pieces: The “interior architecture” recently on display was by Oscar Niemeyer, who had no less than the city of Brasilia to his credit. No gallerina attitudes here, the staff is genuinely helpful, even to looky-loos. 82 Franklin St., R20thcentury.com

Steven Alan An empire in itself now — L.A. just got its own locations — but much beloved by downtown denizens. Besides the always-popular shirts and trousers from the house line, the Franklin Street flagship showcases other brands as well. Jewelry aficionados will also appreciate the selection from emerging designers. 103 Franklin St., stevenalan.com

Steven Sclaroff This design shop specializes in vintage American and European pieces. And while the selection is both classic and classy, like a dear friend bearing gifts, the inventory is more about what delight the objects will bring, rather than their provenance. 44 White St., stevensclaroff.com

Thom Browne A CDFA menswear designer of the year, Thom Browne’s high-waisted, snug-fitting bespoke suits aren’t for every figure. But for the meticulous-minded who can cultivate the look (and spend the $4000), the suits are testament to fine craftsmanship. Since they’re made to measure, their dimensions can be adjusted — even if the silhouettes and prices can’t. 100 Hudson St., thombrowne.com

Tribbles Officially a home-and-garden center, it’s more like a modern-day general store, with everything from small appliances (a coffeemaker by Jasper Morrison) to personal-care goods (sunscreen) to fresh floral arrangements. 217 W. Broadway, tribbleshomeandgarden.com

The Working Class Emporium Don’t let the vintage touches or the thrift-shoppy layout fool you, this is a destination for high-end Anglophilia. You’ll find clothing, gifts and goods by Paul Smith, Rachel Ashwell and Lulu Guinness, among others in store. 168 Duane St., workingclassinc.com

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