So, those on your gift list aren't exactly hip? Then join me on the
second-half of my shopping excursion, the one that starts around midtown.
The first stop was Madison Square Garden, where my shopping
compatriot was to purchase Rangers tickets as a gift for his brother. Yes,
technically MSG is not a store, but it is a place to get holiday gifts for
the sports fan in your circle of nearest and dearest, so bear with me.
Unfortunately, as my friend discovered, there are only single seats left
for Rangers games, so don't buy the tickets to socialize because you may
end up on opposite sides of the arena. I will venture to say that you will
probably have similar luck in getting Knicks tickets, but it's worth a try.
Of course, this is not taking into account the swarm of scalpers who softly
suggest "looking for Knicks tickets?" as they brush past you. I wonder how
much business they rake in considering the prominently stationed uniformed
officers, but this is the capital of capitalism, so I suppose anything is
possible. One performance for which you may be able to get tickets is "The
Christmas Carol." The show got fairly good reviews, so any lover of the
classic Dickens tale may want to look into getting tickets.
As we walked east after leaving Madison Square Garden, the
crowds of people got thicker and thicker. By the time we passed Lord
and Taylor, there was a swelling line of people waiting to look at the
store windows. Fortunately for us, we were headed for CompUSA, so
we just breezed on by. When we got there, it appeared as if everyone else
had come and picked through all the merchandise. With the prevalence of
computers at home, it's no surprise that there are a lot of people who buy
computer products for their friends and family during the holidays. There
is a dizzying selection of computer games on the shelves, as well as on the
floor, including some newcomers such as "Tomb Raider II," "Riven," and
"Jedi Knight." I was also impressed with the children's software section,
probably the most extensive in the city. I watched as a little boy played
one of the popular "Freddie the Fish" games created by Humongous
Entertainment. Aside from the games, there are innumerable items in a wide
range of prices that would be appropriate as a gift. Just remember to show
the security guard the contents of your bag as you leave the store because
they tend to get testy when you forget.
After an entire day of shopping, I finally made it to 57th Street.
Normally, I prefer to stay away from the stores that comprise theme store
central, as 57th Street is now known. However, when it comes to shopping
for gifts, I have to admit, the mammoth stores found here can be quite
useful. The Warner Brothers Store was teeming with customers, as
usual. But, where else can you pick up a pair of silk Marvin the Martian
boxers and Scooby slippers complete with a head and tail for each foot?
Besides, everyone knows at least one person who is into collecting
paraphernalia related to a specific WB character, right? Otherwise, this
store wouldn't be as popular as it appears to be. Most of the merchandise
inside this store is the standard assortment of theme store items. What
did catch my eye was a section dedicated to bath products, such as Marvin
the Martian liquid soap that smells of green apples, and other fun liquids
that come in an plethora of colors and fragrances. If you've spent a day
hauling your kids around on your shopping spree, this is definitely the
store to bring them to perk them up and make them smile.
Another new entrant on 57th Street is the museum-scale
Tourneau store. Despite the fact that there are several Tourneau's
in a 10 block radius in this area, they have decided to set up shop here to
compete with the other mega theme stores. This came as a surprise to me
because the mega store image didn't quite mesh with the exclusive boutique
feel that I have become accustomed to at its other stores. The
Tourneau on this street is definitely more democratic in its
selection of watch brands, with everything from Anne Kleins and Swatches to
the Breitlings and Rolexes. Not only do they have one of the most
impressive collections of high-end watches, they also have a watch museum
where timeless timepieces are displayed as carefully as in any
world-renowned museum. The collection certainly challenges the traditional
interpretation of a watch. Another noteworthy section of this store is the
rock climbing wall that is part of the sports watch department. When I was
there, they were allowing customers to scale the small but challenging wall
as others gawked at the spectacle. Aside from such eye candy, if you're
thinking of buying a watch for someone, take into consideration the fact
that Tourneau can clean and fix your timepiece in house. Definitely
something department stores cannot provide.
Winding down the stretch of super-sized stores is the brand new
Borders Bookstore, situated where the old Mitsukoshi used to stand.
For those who bemoan the invasion of bookstore chains that are squashing
the independents, consider Borders as the competition that Barnes
and Nobles needs in order to prevent a monopoly on book selling in this
city. The space Borders occupies is not conducive to a bookstore
because it is rather cramped, but Borders attempts to overcome this
with a rather comprehensive collection of books, periodicals, video, CDs,
etc. The magazine section is noteworthy because it offers some trade
magazines and obscure art magazines not available in most places. It also
has a fairly impressive non-fiction section, especially the shelves upon
shelves devoted to computer books. Alas, the fiction section is not much
more than a rehashing of the New York Times best seller list. Although the
Barnes and Noble in the Citicorp building just blocks away has a more
expansive assortment of books, Borders does give it a run for its
money if only because of its strategic location.