There's a store up the street from our offices here in New York called Boyd's
Madison Avenue. That it's on Third
Avenue, just below Bloomingdale's and next to The
Home Depot, is evidence that it moved a few years back from a more glamorous
neighborhood. But even in its new quarters, Boyd's still offers an array of
magical items that only a tiny, big-city department store can provide. Here, one
can find apothecary items such as "Vocalzone throat pastilles"
(they're to keep your voice clear) and imported toothpaste for $12.99 that you
know works in more mysterious ways than Crest or Colgate ever could. Boyd's
lingerie department serves up underclothing designed to make any odd figure
look fabulous under a tight-fitting evening gown and it has all sorts of
cosmetics priced for hundreds of dollars that you can sift through aimlessly on
a rainy day while you're waiting to meet someone for a lunch date nearby. When
my husband once asked if I could find him a long-handled shoehorn like the one
he'd used on a visit to The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, I knew that Boyd's
would have one. Of course they did; I was even able to choose from a selection
of handles, as each had a different type of animal's face etched into it. In
the end, I opted for the dog over the horse.
And so I was dismayed the other day when walking by, to see
that the store is closing; everything was 60 percent to 80 percent off. While this
scenario usually sates my ultimate fantasies (I can buy whatever I want, as
much as I want!), I felt terrible. I walked through the narrow, cramped aisles,
selected a black-sequined lipstick case with a shamrock embossed on it that was
marked down to $9.99 and left.
The worst part of this whole thing is that Boyd's is on my
list of favorites to recommend to friends visiting Manhattan. In an effort to quell my sadness,
I reached out to a few of my travel industry friends for their tips on where
they head to when they touch down in a far-flung city.
Jack Bloch of JB's World Travel Consultants always visits
Herend Porcelain in Budapest
for "unique beautiful pieces." His wife, Navah, loves Topshop in London, where you can buy
in-style clothing of all sorts. Bob Watson of Watson and Watson says that while
he's in London,
"A must stop is Turnbull & Asser for men's shirts and ties. If you're
visiting during their twice-yearly sales, all the better." In Hong Kong,
Bob goes to Lily Shoes at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for custom-made footwear;
for eyeglasses, he likes the NewRegentOpticalCenter on Nathan Road.
Anastasia Mann of Corniche Travel loves the Paris Flea
Market, which "is a bit out of town but an easy cab ride. The front part
of the market looks a bit like a low-end bazaar, but when you go toward the
back you can find tiny stalls with incredible antiques and paintings and many
collectibles, and the prices are negotiable." Even better: "All the
way in the back is a very small but delightfully "French" restaurant
called Chez Louisette with accordion players and cabaret-type singers.
People share long tables for lunch and the performers pass a basket for tips.
It makes for a delightful weekend day in Paris!"
Randy Maged of Ask the Travel Maven, says that when in Florence, "You must
shop at Luisa Via Roma where they have all the lines of the finest Italian
clothing and handbags. If you have only a few hours to shop in Florence, you could spend them all
Sharri Whiting, our correspondent in Rome,
travels to Montefalco in Umbria,
"where the linens are simply wonderful. The town is full of little stores
that sell gorgeous table and bed linens; this is pure linen that was loomed in
the countryside. The best one is across the street from the SanFrancescoMuseum." Whiting says she is also
"addicted" to the Italian ceramics from the ancient town of Deruta. "The
greatest place to go is Majoliche Originale Deruta, where Grazia Ranocchia
manages her family's factory. They'll make pieces to order and guarantee their
arrival. Their selection of one-of-a-kind lamps is superb." In southern
Africa, Whiting says she has to go to Horst Knop, a goldsmith and
jeweler in Windhoek, Namibia, who makes
"irresistible gold and silver pieces, inspired by the desert and made with
tourmalines, amethysts, diamonds and more. I am stopped all over the world and
asked where I got my beautiful necklaces," she says.
Stateside, Vickie Meeuwsen of Carlston Wagonlit Travel's
corporate offices heads to 1154 Lill Studio in Chicago, where you can custom
design your own purse; her colleague, Steve Loucks, loves to visit Colony
Records when he's in New York "for its breathtaking array of CDs, vinyl
records and Broadway memorabilia. It's like a museum," he says.
For my part, I'm looking for a substitute for Boyd's here in
let you know when I find it!