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Where Francine Ballard Finds Monogrammed Rings on W. 10th St.

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New York City has more stores than anyone could physically tackle, but somehow we always keep returning to the usual suspects. To break out of the rut, we've asked some local shopping and fashion gurus to provide their hidden retail gems—those unique stores around our fantastic city that we might not all know about. Cue the Beatles: We're about to get a little help from our friends.

Image via Shopikon

Francine Ballard started out at Lucky magazine and eventually found her spot atop of the masthead at InStyle, where she spent seven years as the publication's fashion director. Now, she's gone digital, launching DesignerSocial, an e-commerce shop that sells pre-owned designer handbags and accessories. Much of her inventory comes from her friends and former colleagues, and the concept was born out of the idea that most NY fashionista's closets are not much bigger than Laura Lobdell's West Village shop, Ballard's favorite store in NYC for anything dipped in silver.

J'adore all things in the West Village but Laura Lobdell's store is definitely a unique space. It's directly next door to Bobo (one of my favorite place to meet up with friends for cocktails) and you'd walk right past it if you weren't looking for it. It's a tiny sliver of a store (it must only be a hundred square feet!) but quite worth the visit if only to hang out with her and her equally charming sidekick, Xiao (her dog).
I love how she takes everyday objects and makes them into memorable keepsakes by casting them in silver. To me, there's something interesting in that since I subscribe to the theory that life is only as "special"as you make it. I'm also not a girly-girl, so Laura is one of my go-to's for gifts that are both kitschy and cool. I love her Matchstick Necklace that says "You're My Match" and her Diamond Old School Pull Tab (it's actually a beer tab which she says she found walking the dunes while in Montauk). She also does these cool champagne top rings that you can have monogrammed and/or custom designed. Her store is just the right mix of low-key whimsy and fun.
· Designer Social [Official Site]
· Laura Lobdell [Official Site]
· All Shopping Confidential Posts [Racked NY]

Laura Lobdell

183 W 10th Street New York NY 10014