The book on classic New York City shops

September 12, 2012 2:42:26 PM PDT
You can travel back in time to look at some of New York City's most classic stores, and you don't need a time machine. These mom and pop places date back through decades, but they are still around today.

"When my niece was born, on a whim, I decided to build a dollhouse and really knew nothing about it," Leslie Edelman, Tiny Doll House owner said.

That was about 20 years ago, and now Leslie Edelman is an expert. Every doll house in Leslie's Manhattan shop is handmade, with a goal of making sure these masterpieces look like the real deal.

It works. He draws in wide-eyed children as young as 2 and collectors in their 90's. He's one of 75 mom and pops featured in the new book New York originals.

"The fact that so many of us still exist, makes this city what it is," he said.

No one knows that more than Jamie McDonald. He wrote the book.

I caught up with him at another classic shop, Orwashers, where they hand-fill each donut with fruit grown in New York state. His guide to the city's hidden treasures takes you on a fascinating trip through the 5 boroughs, meeting people, like the folks at Cameo Pet Shop in Queens, where they specialize in fresh water aquariums.

"New Yorkers should be proud of the fact that these types of places can only exist these days in New York City because other towns and cities don't have the infrastructure," McDonald said.

Case in point is Buzz-a-Rama. It's where fans of slot car racing have been coming since 1965. It's the last of its kind in the city. The Brooklyn gem is as unique as its owner, Frank "buzz" Perri.

"A lot of the guys, when they get into it, they start building their own, start from scratch. Solder a chasse together and rewire a motor, some cars go up to 100 miles per hour," he said.

With that same lightning speed, it seems these shops are disappearing, something Jamie hopes to change.

"We lose part of our heritage when these shops go," Jamie said.




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