What started in 2006 as a men’s shop on Atlantic Avenue has turned into a mini-Brooklyn empire for Hollander & Lexer—today, there are four well-appointed boutiques (for both ladies and gentlemen) spanning the borough, with an in-house line of scarves, shirts, and essential oils stocking its shelves. But for co-owners Brian Cousins and Yaz Benmira, whose entry into the retail world came with their antique shop Darr (369 Atlantic Avenue, Boerum Hill), the initial idea with starting Hollander & Lexer was to have a place nearby to get a new wardrobe, not global domination. “We realized that there were no good men’s clothing stores in Boerum Hill and decided that the neighborhood deserved one,” explains Cousins, who first moved to Brooklyn more than 20 years ago (landing in Williamsburg, which he not-so-jokingly describes as being “very different from today”). He adds, “Everything in the stores is, to a greater or lesser extent, a reflection of our personalities.” The duo, who have lived just a stone’s throw from Prospect Park in Prospect Heights for nearly nine years, have spent more than enough time throughout the borough to have developed a few local favorites. Read on to see Cousin’s picks.
Best Coffee: At home with beans from Sahadi’s (187 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn Heights, 718-624-4550).
Best Pizza: If you can deal with the feral kids, Two Boots in Park Slope (514 2nd Street, 718-499-3253).
Best Place to Go on a First Date: Prospect Park.
Best Place to Spend a Rainy Afternoon: Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, 718-384-3980). Movies with a bar—very dangerous.
Best Place to Spend a Summer Evening: Any outdoor music show.
Best Place to Bring Brooklyn First-Timers: You really can’t go wrong with Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
Best Place to Buy a Pair of Jeans: Brooklyn Denim Co. (85 North 3rd Street, Williamsburg, 718-782-2600).
Best Place to Pick Up a Last Minute Gift: Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers (218 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg, 718-387-7322). It’s an amazing bookshop that’s open late-ish.
Favorite Store (That Isn’t Hollander & Lexer): All vinyl records stores, but especially Academy Record Annex (96 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, 718-218-8200).