Canal Street is not for the faint of heart. Mostly, it is to be avoided at all costs. The crush of counterfeiters hauling suitcases packed with knock-off handbags and the swarms of tourists who follow them like sharks in a feeding frenzy are enough to make you homicidal.
But there are a few gems here worth checking out if you can brave the throng. My two favorites are Canal Plastics and Canal Rubber. Their signage, more than anything, enthralls. Especially with their anachronistic-sounding catch phrases.
IF IT'S IN RUBBER - WE HAVE IT!
ALL YOUR PLASTIC NEEDS AND MORE...
I went inside, trying to think of what my plastic needs might be. I nearly convinced myself that those needs included a handful of solid lucite spheres or a couple of plastic ice cubes, or a sheet of psychedelic corrugated poster paper.
In Canal Rubber, I was fiercely tempted to purchase a lengthy coil of pink rubber tubing that looked, when held just so, like a human large intestine. I also considered getting a piece of rubber flooring cut to size to create an industrial-design bathmat.
Instead, I walked out of both places empty-handed, wondering who shops there and for what. And feeling grateful that people with truer plastic and rubber needs than mine continue to exist.