It's hard not to like Ting's Gift Shop, the bright red oddity at the corner of Pell Street and Doyers.
When, on a recent trip to Chinatown, my son was growing ever more bored by the minute, I knew where to head: Ting's cramped storefront, where there's just enough room to turn yourself around in a survey of all the quirky little thingamajigs your scant money can buy. Back-scratchers, finger traps, squirting toy slot machines, joy buzzers, little pieces of ceramic statuary, tiny Buddhas, plastic snakes, yo-yos, old Chinese newspapers, paper fans, tons of incense, paper lanterns. Just shelves and shelves of weird, weird, weird. And all for 15 cents, 65 cents, a dollar, a dollar fifty. The really expensive stuff will set you back three dollars.
It's all crap, of course. But when you put so much colorful, oddball crap like that together in a tight space, it's wondrous.