By Mitch Broder
The good news for shoppers is that they can now purchase their Animal Sound Alarm Clocks and their Disgusting Sounds Keychains under one roof.
They should just be aware that the disgusting sounds are sincerely disgusting.
Now, in one stop, you can get, say, a stylishly tasteful soap dish and a cheerily tasteless solar-powered hand-waving queen. And you can get all the things that somehow fall somewhere in between, like Pac-Man Potholders, Manhole Drain Covers, and Michelle Obama Tote Bags.
Since these are all no doubt on your list, you may want to stop by, for stores that carry this kind of stuff have been steadily dwindling. Somber has displaced silly, and functional has eclipsed funny. But not at Delphinium. Maybe because it’s so hard to find.
The rest of us have to walk a bit out of our way. But that mystique may be one reason that Delphinium has survived.
It all began with flowers, of which the delphinium is one, and with Broadway singer-dancers, of which the owners were three. Gary Alaimo, Michael Quinn, and John Soroka were roommates who were getting tired of singing and dancing. Michael and John stepped into flower-arranging.
They started at home, moved to a store, then added some other things, which sold so well that they soon had little time for the flowers. In 1996, the alleged flower shop became the Delphinium Card & Gift shop. It was across the street. It’s still vacant. It might make a good flower shop.
In 1999, the three men opened Delphinium Home, around the corner on Ninth Avenue. In 2001, they opened Wear Me Out, a men’s clothing store, in their current space. In 2011, their leases were up, and their Ninth Avenue rent was rising. They gave up the gift store and the home store, dumped the clothes, and launched the combined store.
The odd mix of stuff suits the neighbors and delights tourists from around the world, though it’s not clear which country most embraces the Lickety Spoon. John, who’s the gift buyer, says: “There’s a certain aesthetic to the way I buy. There’s a certain cleverness to the way I buy. There’s a certain city mind that you tap into.”
That mind must favor animals, because they’re a dominant theme. You can get them on useful items for any room in the house. Along with the Animal Sound Alarm Clocks and the Animal Butt Magnets, there are the Fish Shower Curtain, the Walrus Ice Cream Scoop, the Rubber Duck Scrubber, and the Hand-Crank Piggy LED Flashlight.
As for those Animal Sound Alarm Clocks, they come in cat, monkey, and frog.
As for the sounds in the Disgusting Sounds Keychains, you’re on your own.Step up to the plate at Delphinium Home, 353 West 47th Street, New York City.