News / USA

Gift-Givers Find Paradise in 'Big Apple'

One view of New York's famous Hammacher Schlemmer store that sells one-of-a-kind gift items, in New York, December 2011.
One view of New York's famous Hammacher Schlemmer store that sells one-of-a-kind gift items, in New York, December 2011.
Bernard Shusman

New York is known as "the city that never sleeps," and during the busy holiday season, many locals and tourists alike are descending on the "Big Apple" to take in its sights and sounds, and perhaps find the perfect gift for that special someone. One store in particular targets gift-givers looking for that one-of-a-kind gift item.

"Very fun… I want to take it home with me,” one shopper said about a special pinball machine.

For about $6,000, buyers with the money to spend at Hammacher Schlemmer can purchase a Rolling Stones pinball machine - just one of thousands of unusual items keeping this one-of-a-kind store full of people all day.

When you come to this store, the staff encourages you to touch and enjoy the items - even the pricier goods, without any pressure to buy.

"If I was making four times as much money as I am, I would love to have one of these," said a customer about a unique lounge chair.

“They always have something cool to look at, and you never know what you may find," said another.

Store manager Kerri Calderone is enthusiastic about what her store has to offer. She said it is the place to buy a gift one cannot find anywhere else. She said anyone, young or old, looking for the unusual item, can find that perfect gift, and in price ranges from $9 to $75,000. The economy has not hurt this 163-year-old company.

“Our store is doing well this year based on the variety of items we sell. You cannot get these items at other retailers. With the economy the way it is, we are still doing well and selling as many items as we can,” said Calderone.

There is the world’s smallest camera. It works like a regular camera and holds 32 megabytes of memory, with a small USB port.

The Lean Mean Green Machine comes with a motorcycle engine and three wheels, but it costs as much as a high-end luxury automobile.

Then there's this fortune teller, Zoltar. Take him home and he will tell you what tomorrow will bring.

"Age is simply a matter of mind, if you don’t mind, my friend, it doesn’t matter,” said Zoltar.

Zoltar combines humor with fantasy, as do many of the other items that are available during this holiday season.

To some shoppers, coming in here is like living out a childhood fantasy.

“We’re still kids, but now we actually have the money to buy the stuff we want," said one man. "So when you walk past a store with toys, it’s always nice to play around with it."

There is a lot to see here, and it is all in the mood of gift-giving this holiday season.

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