shopping 09.30.15

Playing Mantis

Playing Mantis, 32 N. Moore [Hudson/ Varick] 646.484.6845, is as un-Xbox as it gets.

The only bells and whistles at Imelda McCain's toy and craft store are actual bells and real whistles. You won't find things with polycarbonate plastic or anodized aluminum. You will find handcrafted toys from around the world, all of which come with a tale of their travels.

More than anything, there is wood. Wooden trains, oak piggy banks (elephant, frog, and hippo banks, too), dollhouse pieces, puppets, a beech-and-pine pull toy in the shape of an instantly lovable moose and a horse scooter.

These wooden toys are handmade with the additions of felt, recycled paper, cloth scraps and dried apples in upstate New York, in Argentina, in Africa, by the elderly, the disabled, by a music teacher in Hungary. There are glockenspiels, teddy bears, and lots of carefully chosen books. Everywhere, the handmade imbued with imagination.

Ms. McCain's customers certainly respond to her commitment to nature and the handmade. "One morning," she says, "an alpaca owner needed a home for her alpacas because the farm owner had fallen ill. That was the beginning of our first rescue of alpacas. Now we have around 20 on our farm."

There was the couple who were moving to Florida and bequeathed lovebirds to Ms. McCain. Another neighbor left her an antique piano. "My store in some ways has been a shelter for animals and things that they have loved for so long."

Ludlow Street

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