Our Favorite Indie Spots for Back-to-School Shopping

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Hey, you made it! The summer is winding down, which means it’s time to start thinking about heading back to school. (Although FYI: it’s not too late to get to some of these spots and events in the dog days of summer.) That said, there’s nothing like back-to-school shopping to get everyone excited about getting back to class. We checked in with local NYC boutiques for their picks on the coolest back-to-school gear, clothes and more, for kids just starting school to those too cool for it. (i.e, your seven-year-old, etc.) Read on to send your kid back to school in style!

photo: STATE

Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store

An “everything but the kitchen sink” independent shop, Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store has many great backpacks at various price points (including State Bags, shown here, that have a compelling “Give Back” model). Plus, lunch boxes such as Yumboxes that make it really easy to pack lunch since it has little compartments as well as lots of Stainless Steel options too. For inside lunches, Blue Ribbon sells lunch box notes and little blank notes too to write thoughtful and fun messages. They also have several teaching games and tools, such as multiplication flashcards, sight word cards,  learning games about money, math, words, reading, etc. and maps too! (They also sell basic school supplies.) 

232 5th Ave. Brooklyn
Park Slope
Online: blueribbongeneralstore.com


This year, CAMP has so many fun and unique products that would make any kid excited to hit the books again. With 4 shops in Manhattan, it’s your one-stop back-to-school shop for play, media and merchandise that’s enriching and, of course, fun. Popular items include Ooly Left-Right Ergonomic Crayons, colorful EPIC everyday backpacks, corkboards, unicorn erasers, and CAMPS own signature duffle bag.

110 5th Ave
Online: camp.com

10 Columbus Circle 
The Shops at Columbus Circle,
Columbus Circle 

20 Hudson Yards
Hudson Yards

1 Dekalb Ave.
City Point
Downtown Brooklyn 

Smoochie Baby

Popular items for kids returning to school this year available at Smoochie Baby include CarliinQ Backpacks—and all organic brand from the Netherlands—Old Soles Champsters high-tops, the Rowdy Sprout Frank Zappa tee, My Little Cozmo Dakota Sherpa Jacket, and Fairwell sweats.

110 Berry St. 
Online: smoochiebaby.com

Book Culture

With so few independent bookstores left, supporting the ones still kicking it is never a bad idea. At Book Culture, which has four locations, you can nab kid's books and toys, including picture books, activity books and board books, they also sell totes, backpacks, and more.

26-09 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City
Online: bookculture.com

536 W. 112th St. 
Morningside Heights 
2915 Broadway
Morningside Heights 

photo: JanesExchange

Jane's Exchange

The largest and oldest Children's and Maternity Store in NYC, focused on sustainability, Jane’s Exchange’s second storefront recently opened in Brooklyn. Fashion-wise, new this season are fall corduroy pants, overalls, and overall pinafores. High quality basics from Mini Boden, Hanna Andersen, Primary, Milo, Rock Your Kid are all the rage in shades of softer greys, browns, muted colors and animal prints. Plus, sneakers from Jordans to Vans are attracting kids of all ages.

191 East 3rd St.
East Village
Online: janesexchange.com

443 7th Ave.
Park Slope

Parachute Brooklyn

A buy-sell-trade that offers gently used modern and vintage clothing to kids ages 0-10y, this boutique also carries a selection of new accessories as well as small-batch, one-of-a-kind pieces from local designers with a focus on upcycled materials. What’s popular this Fall are Parkland backpacks, socks from Happy Socks and Little Stocking Co., hair accessories from Chunks and Wunderkin Co, Umbrellas from Hipster Kid, and quilted jackets from SAJ. Additionally, the shop’s selection of second-hand jackets and sweaters are amongst our top sellers for fall. 

151 Norman Ave.
Online: parachutebrooklyn.com

Grandma’s Place

Recently featured in Humans of New York, Grandma’s Place is your one-stop-shop for toys, games, and books—it’s a real neighborhood gem in Harlem. Many books and toys they sell have an ethnic focus, such as the books Tea Cakes for Tosh, Sulwe, Curls, and the coloring book Princess Planet. Outdoor, musical, and Melissa & Doug toys also available.

84 W 120th St.
Online: grandmasplaceinharlem.com

photo: Babesta


It’s fashion-forward in this downtown NYC shop. Babesta’s newest collection of Rowdy Sprout T-shirts are essentials for the fall. Tagless and made in LA, they suit every musical taste! (Note: Everything on Babesta.com up to size 6)

56 Warren Street
Online: babesta.com

Two Kids and a Dog 

An awesome shop in DUMBO for Back-to-School, Two Kids and a Dog sells everything kid for the baby to tween crowd. Here’s where you’ll find a ton of toys, kids' clothing, shoes, scooters, birthday gifts and more. Pick up your child’s essentials here, such as colorful water bottles from Eco vessel and Swell, Backpacks from Herschel and Parkland, and lunch boxes from Yumbox and Omielife. 

65 Pearl St. 
Online: twokidsandadog.com 

photo: Awesome Brooklyn

Awesome Brooklyn

This one-of-a-kind gift shop carries everything from New York-themed mugs and baby gear, to swirly pastel chalk and Grow Your Own Unicorn toy eggs. Staffers say all things organizing are hot for Back-to-School, such as whimsical “To-do” pads, feelings pads and basic emotional well-being stuff. 

617 Flatbush Avenue
(between Fenimore Street and Rutland Road)
Online: awesomebrooklyn.com

main photo: iStock

—Rachel Sokol


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