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Phoebe Cates’s Manhattan Boutique

Dean Kaufman Blue Tree's owner, Phoebe Cates.

Photo: Dean Kaufman

When I was a kid, I was crazy lucky to live within walking distance of a luncheonette that, according to a hand-painted sign in the window, served the World’s Best Coffee! Never mind that I despised coffee. I understood that someday I’d be a grown-up and imbibe it all day.

I’ve hit the jackpot again. Nowadays I live steps away from the World’s Best Boutique. And nobody needs a sign outside to know it. I am not saying this because Blue Tree belongs to my friend Phoebe Cates. No, this spot wins the best-boutique award the honest way, with the highest CS/SI (covetable stuff per square inch) quotient of any shop around. It also speaks to the collector’s urge awakened by visits to the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museums, around the corner on Fifth Avenue.

Here’s what I found at Blue Tree today that I truly cannot live without: exquisitely etched, pastel-tinted Lucite boxes; a black T-shirt with an appliquéd fork and spoon on its front and, around back, a slab of meat with the words juicy steak; hand-painted stockings with beaded seams; a lamp that looks like a really cool wire sculpture; all the shop’s pocketbooks…whoa, I am making myself sick with greed.

Blue Tree is a mom-and-pop store without the pop, though Phoebe does credit her husband, the actor Kevin Kline, with the name—a reference to the blue trees in Fauvist paintings. (We knew that, right?) After your spree, you and your purchases can check out Yura, across the street. They have pretty good coffee.

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