Exploring The Gloriously Packed Aisles Of The Doomed Pearl River Mart – Gothamist.com BY NELL CASEY IN NEWS ON APR 9, 2015 11:32 AM
SoHo’s glorious tchotchke and home goods emporium Pearl River Mart will close in December, leaving precious few places to buy both herbal supplements and screens bearing the likeness of Bruce Lee. Staring down a rent increase to $500,000, the 44-year-old store is forced to move its retail operation to the void of the internet.
Photographer Sai Mokhtari swung by yesterday to photograph the many, many different products on offer before the vultures descend and pick the place clean. When the massive retailer of inexpensive dishes and festive fans closes its doors forever, at least we’ll have this virtual reminder of its magnificence.
During my time at NYU, trips to Pearl River Mart were practically mandatory, especially when it came time to make the decrepit walls of Brittany Hall appear livable. Along with Canal Street Jeans and NoHo Market—all dead, all rotten—it was where you went for cool shit for cheap. The place has everything that you want and nothing that you need all at the same time. Wandering through is an exercise in impulse control—an exercise that usually fails.
Where else are you going to find cat-shaped tea pots for $1.75 or oven mitts emblazoned with the MTA subway map or $1 minerals? You go in needing to supplement your bowl collection and leave with $50 worth of dried noodles, paper lanterns and stalks of bamboo. You can’t not buy this kind of stuff, even though you may never have use for a dragon hilted sword or a large gong.
While it’s great that Pearl River Mart will live on indefinitely on the web—their varied selection was like an IRL Amazon for imported goods—clicking through pages of stuff isn’t nearly as enjoyable as fondling Buddha statues and smelling incense sticks in person. The well-appointed shop made even the most humble items appear precious and desirable, something the cold portal of the Internet can’t replicate. If you’ve got some extra bucks to spare, a few free hours and strength enough in your biceps to haul bags of loot through the SoHo crowds, now’s the time to go.
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