I don't look for authenticity in Times Square much anymore. Maybe that's why I've never gone inside Ray's Beauty Supply on Eighth Avenue, despite it's enticing claim to be "The King of Beauty." My mistake. Turns out it's not a run-of-the-mill drug store, but equipped with one of the most eccentrically complete stocks of beauty and bathrooms supplies in town—more than 10,000 different items—most at good prices. They have your regular shampoos, creams, combs, curling irons and hair dryers, but also the fancy schmancy, serious stuff you see at hair salons. They seem to be fairly renowned for their hairdryer selection, and also do a fair trade in wigs. They even repair hairdryers, which is odd in this day and age.
The shop itself is a curious in the way old New York shops are. (Ray has been around for 55 years.) There's an old barber chair just inside the door. There's a flashy neon sign inside. The staff are obviously lifers and have that kind of take-it-or-leave-it attitude. And then there's this sign: