In late November, we stopped by Chinatown and were entranced: it was love. We shared a few places there that you have to check out, but one we decided to place aside for a while, as it is such an amazing little gem of a store that it’s almost like a secret: it’s a shop frozen in time, among newly arriving upscale businesses.
The place is Woo’s Gift Shop, a pocket in storefronts that is packed full of products (most of which are covered in dust). Walking past, we didn’t really have an interest in stopping in, 5th Floor on Chung King stealing our eyes and attention to their spot. Yet, there was one thing that Woo’s had that 5th did not: an aging poster of Barney and Baby Bop greeting you as it peeked out of their doorway. You could just smell the gold fumes coming out of that place.
The inside is a bit of a mess, honestly, and somewhat overwhelming because there is just so much stuff: china, jewelry, paper products, clothing, and other tchotkes. Many of the products are Chinese tourism items–silk robes, large fans, lotus covered vases–but that isn’t why you are here: it’s kind of like a time warp, like you are inside the antique store from beginning of Gremlins–but none of the merchandise has changed. There are toys and posters and various other “things” that are straight out of the early nineties and very well may have been on the Woo shelves since that time.
A few things that stood out and made us almost buy them all while we were there were the henleys (shown below), that seem like what American Apparel wishes it was making. They were covered in dust and going for about ten, fifteen dollars each: quite a steal. The only problem was that there was no way of gauging the size, given their packaging: were they for kids? Adults? Women? Men? The latter two do not matter; however, a kid’s small and an adult’s small are two entirely different things.
The poster collection, as mentioned at the top, was also quite brilliant (but does not make for a very comfortable bike ride home). The jewelry was quite nice, although we do not have any photos to share: as we were snapping away at them, the man running the shop (we’re assuming Mr. Woo?) craned his head from behind a tiny television yelling, “NO PICTURES.” He then rambled on for about five minutes about why no pictures can be taken. We apologized, put the camera away, and soaked it all in with the camera of our mind (which sucks because there was so much more good shit in there that needed documentation).
Be sure to check out Woo’s (perhaps at the Chinese New Year celebration?), which is located at 506 Chung King. They are open seven days a week; however, the times they are open are supposedly “12PM – 5PM,” but they are known to keep whatever hours they want (very similar to the people at The Yellow Aster, Woo’s Hollywood cousin).