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The Ticker’s staff recommends local business favorites

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Judah Duke

As students power through finals and look to the holiday season, The Ticker’s staff came together to share some of their recommendations for local small businesses to support this year.

While overshooting Small Business Saturday, the tradition that started on Nov. 18, 2022 keeps the same spirit of encouraging consumers to shop from independent and local stores.

None of the contributors for this piece were paid to endorse these businesses.

Mia Euceda– Arts & Culture Editor | Paradise of Replica

Paradise of Replica is a tiny yet musically abundant record store that opened in Chinatown two years ago.

I stumbled upon this hidden gem last summer searching for a copy of “Paradise of Replica,” an album by the Japanese avant-pop group After Dinner.

The shop, named after the album, is somewhat hard to spot. Itis on the second level of an old walkup and shares a floor with an acupressure spa — but the lowkey location adds to the allure.

Paradise of Replica makes up for its limited space with its curated stock of CDs, tapes and vinyl. On my first visit, I was psyched to find my vinyl holy grails and enjoyed exploring the store’s keenly eclectic selection of rare and hard-to-find records.

From Arab funk to bossa nova to Japanese city pop, Paradise of Replica’s got you covered. I always find it difficult not to splurge!

Prices range from $5 to $200, depending on the item’s rarity and condition. The jazz bargain bin doesn’t disappoint.

If you are unsure about purchasing a record, you can ask to use the listening station to preview the LP.

Paradise of Replica also has an online store, though the brick-and-mortar offers a much wider catalog.

I’d recommend shopping here for the music nerd in your life, especially that friend who’s always posting about a band “you’ve probably never heard of” to their Instagram story.

Jahlil Rush- Production Assistant | Atsuko

Atsuko is an online Japanese retail brand geared towards fans of the world of anime. The brand is the perfect online space for die-hard anime fans.

The brand’s clothing line reflects a deep understanding of diverse anime genres, featuring iconic characters and symbols that resonate with fans across the spectrum. Consumers can find products from “Dragon Ball Z” socks, “One Piece” short-sleeved hoodies and a sweat clothing collection of the Adult Swim anime block, Toonami.

Atsuko’s commitment to inclusivity is evident in its varied range of sizes and gender-neutral designs, fostering a sense of belonging among anime aficionados. With Atsuko, fans wear clothing and embrace a vibrant expression of their anime passion, making every piece a cherished addition to their collection.

Atsuko launched a “Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood” themed collection in March 2023, offering fans the chance to snag a white t-shirt featuring the primary characters, Edward and Alphonse Elric. More recently, Atsuko took over Anime NYC by launching its new “Hunter X Hunter” collection, available now through its website.

The brand offers rewards to anyone who creates an Atsuko account. You can earn points by following their social media, Facebook, X and Instagram. You can refer a friend by sending a link to the website, giving you and your friend a $25 referral code for any order over $75. Members are awarded points on their birthday as well.

This brand was introduced to fans of Japanese pop culture at the Los Angeles Anime Expo in July 2019, while the website itself saw a June 2019 launch date. If you are not afraid of bright colors, healing your inner child and showcasing your anime knowledge, then Atsuko is the place for you.

Atifah Osmani – Copy Chief | Kalustyan’s

Kalustyan’s has been a local New York City favorite since 1944 and contains a wide variety of culinary products you probably haven’t heard of.

Located on Lexington Avenue between East 28th and East 29th Street, its three storefronts are filled with unique spices, dried fruits and nuts, exotic sweets, teas and so much more. Whether rediscovering a childhood favorite or shopping for a new recipe, Kalustyan’s has everything you need.

The store is a five-minute walk from Baruch College, perfect for students looking to shop for something quick between their classes. They also have a notable prepared foods section that includes mujadara, falafels, grape leaves and many more delicious lunch items. If you’re more of a sweet tooth, you can grab a piece of fresh baklava or halva from the store’s dessert display or even some Mexican chocolate by the counter.

With the holiday season upon us, Kalustyan’s is a great place to pick up gifts for loved ones or even a treat for yourself. In addition to the store location, its website features a plethora of global ingredients and gourmet foods that can be easily ordered for delivery or pickup, including its newly launched simmer sauces.

Alexandra Adelina Nita – Graphics Editor | Yu & Me Books

When Lucy Yu moved to New York City, she did it to fulfill a childhood dream — running a bookstore whose shelves and events centered on immigrants and people of color, particularly Asian Americans.

That dream became reality with the opening of Yu & Me Books in 2021, the city’s first Asian American woman-owned bookstore.

I chanced upon Yu & Me’s original space on Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown in 2022 when it was a stop on a Lower East Side book crawl. I remember how plush the chairs in the back were, tempting me to sink into them with my newly purchased copy of “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name,” my long-overdue entry into Audre Lorde’s work — even though I could already barely keep up with my group.

That space unfortunately is no longer in use due to a tragic fire this July. But it’s a testament to Yu and her team’s connection to Chinatown’s community that the bookstore’s recovery fund has raised over $360,000 dollars — more than twice its goal.

This September, Yu & Me Books returned as a temporary popup at the Lower East Side’s underground Market Line with a packed schedule of book launches, book clubs and a drag story hour. Yu plans to reopen the original space next year to allow coffee and drinks to resume being served.

For now, the Market Line popup is bright, beautiful, has its own quiet reading nook and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, according to Yu & Me’s website and Instagram. Online orders can be placed through Bookshop, an alternative to Amazon for local bookstores.

Adriana Maria Lopez Tavares – Opinions Editor | Create & Inspire 

Create & Inspire Co. is a small art business that sells custom designs for graduation toppers, with expressive designs to reflect the graduate’s unique journey.

I came across Create & Inspire Co. when its design was featured by a more prominent creator who was booked two years in advance, and I have been obsessed with the art since. I will definitely be booking my graduation cap soon!

The business Instagram @createandinspire.co is small, with just over 1,000 followers, but her artwork deserves more attention.

The company’s owner, Erika Escamilla-Cardenas, is currently taking orders for her Etsy shop “CreateByErika.” Her designs are original and freehanded, using watercolor paint to make students’ dream caps come to life.

Her shop features eight basic designs to choose from. The most popular are front-facing family portraits or back-facing, giving the buyer the option to include any flags, quotes and scenic background of mountains, grasslands or city shop fronts.

My favorite is her lottery cap design, which allows customers to pick between 13 to 15 cards representing essential things that helped them on their college journey, like their first car, instruments they played, helpful family members or loving pets — speaking of pets, if you want to represent your love for your pet, there is a design template just for them!

Graduation topper prices range from $85 to $135, depending on the design’s intricacy. The topper is made of thick paper that can be pasted on the cap with a gap in the center for the tassel. 

As the fall semester ends, what better way to prepare for graduation than to celebrate how you overcame the challenges in your college path. The artwork on these graduation caps summarizes the difficulties students endure and the effort involved in gaining a degree.

Judah Duke – Business Editor | Drink More Matcha

Drink More Matcha is a matcha tea and snack shop that opened this fall between the Dog & Bone and Jimmy’s House in the Clivner=Field Plaza.

I originally went with Mia Euceda, The Ticker’s arts and culture editor, to interview the owner, Max Qiu, for a profile. He was happy to share how the store sources its top-notch, culinary-grade matcha and how it offers a 10% discount to Baruch students.

The little shop does not offer much seating, but you can grab a seat anywhere in the plaza after ordering and a quick wait. The drinks are iced, but there are snacks and some awesome matcha ice cream! Currently, the shop owner is beginning to provide hot drink options to students during winter.

It’s super convenient and sweet to grab something from Drink More Matcha in between classes, but it is also great to know I’m supporting a business that helps out Baruch students. Highly recommend it!

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About the Contributors
Mia Euceda, Arts & Culture Editor
Mia Euceda is the Arts and Culture Editor of The Ticker.
Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant
Jahlil Rush is a Production Assistant for The Ticker.
Atifah Osmani, Copy Chief
Atifah Osmani is the Copy Chief for The Ticker.
Alexandra Adelina Nita, Graphics Editor
Alexandra Adelina Nita is the Graphics Editor for The Ticker.
Judah Duke, Business Editor
Judah Duke is the Business Editor of the Ticker.
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