Want to Join the Wizarding World? (Store Review)
I wanted to submit this for the next issue of GWC E-magazine, but it seems like the magazine is still currently on temporary hiatus. I wrote about this store the way I did because GWC E-magazine is an international magazine, and New York is a hot spot for tourists for people all over the world. I was allowed to quote those who I quoted in this review.
Want to Join the Wizarding World?
(A Harry Potter Store Review)
By: Kaylyn Gabbert
Where my original sources said that the store had their grand opening in Manhattan, New York otherwise known as New York, New York in April they opened their doors to us June 3rd. I visited the store in mid-July. The three story building is on 935 Broadway Avenue. The doors are opened to the public on the second floor, and there are two different elevators designed like fireplaces, one to take you upstairs to the VR experience, and the other to take you downstairs to the second part of the giant displays as well as shopping. To get to the VR you must pay extra prior to your visit. After my visit I was able to contact a few of the other customers that I chatted up in the store to get their ideas of what they had to say were things that stuck with them about the experience.
Once I got there I was met with a few employees outside who gave me one rule: I had to keep my mask on at all times. To my absolute astonishment no one I noticed broke this rule like people in other shops tend to do even when masks were mandatory everywhere, so the atmosphere was really great as well. To be expected, the store was crowded with fans. It made it very hard to wheel around without feeling like I was going to run someone over, but people did look out for one another. The inside of the store was awe-inspiringly beautiful no matter where you looked. There was not a spot of wall, ceiling, or floor that was not decorated accordingly. That is actually one thing that one guest could not get out of his head when I asked him what stood out to him. Going off that, he added, “Even the elevator doors were turned into a fireplace, and the elevator itself used green lighting rather than a regular white [light].” His girlfriend, Rachel B. said she loved all the photo opportunities and was pointing out that she was going to take pictures by the phone booth where there were wanted posters of Harry Potter, Hagrid and a place where you could step in his shoes, and by the book stacks. Part of the atmosphere was the music from the movies which sometimes felt very out of place. The music was louder in some places than others, but no matter how loud the music was you could always hear people you were having conversations with without feeling like you had to yell. The employees were very friendly, knowledgeable, and eager to help. When I had encounters with them, I never had them hand the issue off to another employee.
Now move onto what the store had as well as what I remembered on what floors. Since I entered on the second floor, let’s start there. As a writer my eyes were easily drawn to the journals and pens that showed house pride for every house. I carried a pen with me for a while. The journals weren’t personally my style because they didn’t have lines in them. The deeper you go you find apparel. Honestly, I can’t tell you much about the clothes because I didn’t pay attention to them. There were three or four walls full of wands. You can make personalized wands. There are character wands, house wands, mascot wands, and more. If they are sold out of wands you can order the wand you want online, but it will cost you more because it’s coming from the U.K. I overheard that when one of my sources I was talking to was asking an employee if they had the wand she wanted, and when they told her what to do since they were sold out of that specific wand. Rachel B. and another guest, Marshall C. both loved how many wands there were. Marshall C. went on to say that he liked “how there were wands for every important character in the series along the big showcase of wands that if you hold onto it will [not only show you who it belonged to but it will also show a] little animation if you hold on to it a little longer.” Most of my sources had at least something to say about the wands. One guest did say the abundance of wands did stand out to him as well as the cool trunks on display that were glued down. To him they were overpriced at $300 for one trunk. Other things the second floor had were candy, duvets, stuffed animals, backpacks, sunglasses, and a Butterbeer Cafe. Because of how crowded the Butterbeer Cafe was and how I was on a time crunch I was unable to check out the cafe. One of my sources wanted to go there as well, but I guess they were also on a time crunch but from what I was told they do plan to go back.
I didn’t have a long time on the first floor, but Rachel B. and her boyfriend showed me to the make-up, make-up bags, jewelry, and enamel pins. I always wanted a charm bracelet. I was initially nervous I’d be allergic to the jewelry because of my nickel allergy, but the saleswoman assured me that the jewelry was sterling silver. Please note that the whole charm bracelet with charms isn’t all sterling silver, but none of it is nickel. I’m not sure if the chain or the charms are turning me green on occasion but one is. I was pleasantly surprised by the prices. The prices for the charms were like $10-$15 even for a set of four. I don’t recall the price for the chain. I was also nervous that the chain wouldn’t fit, so I asked the woman behind the jewelry counter and she let me try on a large chain like the one I picked out. Piece of advice, before you leave, ask how you put on and take off the charm bracelet because you cannot look it up on YouTube later, I know from experience. Most of those videos will show you Pandora jewelers jewelry instead of this store’s.
I greatly enjoyed my time at the Harry Potter store. I loved all it had to offer. I wished I had time and opportunities to take more pictures, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to go back and do so. My favorite part has to be the props though and the backgrounds, if I had to pick. I’ve never really heard of butterbeer so if I have time I’ll give it a try. On my limited budget I was able to buy a few souvenirs: Mascot of Ravenclaw wand, position of luck, and a charm bracelet with five charms. With most things in the Harry Potter shop being expensive because Harry Potter is so popular I found the charm bracelet and the charms to be very reasonably priced.