At first glance, Chelsea Convenience looks like your typical neighborhood hardware store. But look closer at the display windows of the shop at 241 Ninth Avenue, just south of 25th Street, and you will find some surprising objects: over a 100 Russian dolls. There are hundreds more inside the store. These dolls aren’t your typical run of the mill dolls either: you can find sports themed ones (Yankees, Lakers, Green Bay Packers, for example), cartoon characters, even political figures like Putin and Trump.
The owner, who hails from Russia, tells us he has been selling the Russian matryoshka dolls (also known as nesting dolls) in his hardware store for 21 years, 10 at this location. The odd combination stems from his previous job selling Russian dolls, which he simply carried over into the hardware business. The dolls, which are imported, are particularly popular around the holidays as gift items, as well as Russian icon pendants he sells next to the cash register. The dolls, which start at $10, come in a range of sizes from minuscule to larger ones, and some of the smaller ones are actually more expensive due the handiwork.
The most popular Russian doll at the moment? Donald Trump, who is displayed next to Putin. The irony does not seem lost on anyone. The owner also has an eBay channel where he sells a set of five Republican presidential dolls, Trump, George Bush Sr., Ronald Regan, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
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