Where to go and what to know about NYC markets
Simply put: No child should have her mother gallivanting around town in the same Macy’s scarf as every other mom in town. Mom deserves a gem-colored neckwarmer knitted by a tribe of artisans in northern Thailand. Make it two.
Here’s a sampling of four markets (of seven), and the goodies ready to be loaded onto Santa’s sleigh.
Holiday Shops at Times Square West
Tucked inside a narrow midtown lot, the shopping arcade resembles a co-op for gingerbread people. The vendors sell their wares from chocolate-brown structures lightly dusted with candy canes, icicles, snowflakes and other festive decorations.
The bulk of the shops stock discounted items ideal for your office Yankee swap or mantelpiece lineup of stockings: cashmere scarves from Scotland (by way of China, perhaps); Murano glass pendants in such fanciful designs as a soccer ball, a purse and a mischievous monkey; and winter hats and earmuffs donning faces that roar, ribbit and oink. At another hut, vintage-style timepieces strung on necklace chains inhabit such unlikely settings as bike wheels, owl bellies, tennis racquet heads and heavy metal guitars. One row over, whirligigs laser-cut in nature’s eye — butterflies and suns — spin like colorful tornadoes. Marc Dimov, as cheery as an elf, showed me how to pack the garden ornaments flat — hint, hint. For smaller sentiments, he pointed out lampwork glass earrings in the shapes of peppers, cherries and garlic, perfect for the cook who likes to wear what she eats.
“This is New York at its best,” said Dimov, whose California friend makes the stainless-steel mobiles. “You’re outside and in a more personal and friendly environment.”
Sharon Shoshan, an Israeli designer, took friendly to familial level. He hugged me like a sister after showing me around his open treasure chest of Swarovski crystal-and-braided-leather necklaces and bracelets. The jewelry-maker, who cites such celebrity clients as Julia Roberts and Serena Williams, does not have a storefront. The market is his first semi-permanent space; his second is at the Holiday Gift Shops at St. Bartholomew’s, on Park Avenue at 50th Street. His third could be Bloomingdale’s, if negotiations go well.
At the back of the market, a Cypriot was cooking up gyros and shish kebabs. “You get double the amount of meat compared to a pushcart,” he told me in a very persuasive sales pitch. Next door, sweet corn roasted on a grill and mozzarella melted between thick corn cakes like a snow patty pressed between mittens. The scent of a multicultural New York Christmas wafted up and away.