The first time I walked into a Toys ‘R’ Us, I cried. At age 6, I had never seen any place so big, so colorful, so full of beautiful things, and I was overwhelmed by the lifetime of happiness unfolding before me.
That feeling has been rare in retail, which to those of us not in the sales industry hasn’t seen a ton of innovation beyond changing mannequin poses. But walking into The Pint Shop, the standalone gift shop of the Museum of Ice Cream now open at 459 W. 14th St. in Chelsea, makes you believe in the possibilities of brick-and-mortar stores again.
The store exists to showcase the seven flavors of ice cream created based on exhibits that have come through the various iterations of the “museum” — really more like a gallery that doles out sweet treats in themed rooms with interactive displays like their signature Sprinkle Pool.
That pool is both one of the new flavors (vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles) and inspired the red ball-filled Cherry Pit, one of the many photo ops in the store. Color-coded aisles coordinate with the ice creams’ cartons with products like Swell thermoses, poolside cocktail-sized striped inflatable life preservers and notebooks with inspirational covers. Nothing you need — and yet everything you want when you sink into the California summer vibes that inspired the museum.
Customers don’t just come into the shop and then leave with a pint or two, either — they can opt for a $28 Tasting Room experience of all the flavors as well as the science of ice cream, plus workshops with staff and influencers on how to turn all those selfies into social media gold. The whole store is a reminder that you can, in fact, make what you love your work.
The Atlantic just published an incredible story from inside the Museum of Ice Cream’s extended outpost in San Francisco. Instead of cynically griping about the Instagram Generation, it’s a joyful read about people who say things like “It’s pushed me as a human being, and I love it” about working there. A couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary came to the pop-up because they met at an ice cream store. If every project set out to inspire this much happiness, the world wouldn’t be such a hideous place.
Sure, you can get the items — including the ice cream flavors, which are available at Target — pretty much anywhere. But people are going to come to the Pint Shop for its smart curation, fun classes and to feel that joy of possibility we all remember but lost somewhere along the way, as stores became too crowded with crap merchandise, too loud and flashy with advertisements, and too similar to make any of them a destination.
And it helps that at The Pint Shop, you’re never too old to get in the ball pit.
The Pint Shop is located at 459 W. 14th St., open Wednesdays through Mondays from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.