By Allison Dizzine
They’ve come in catalogs, they’ve come in baskets. Now Harry & David’s delicious treats have come in a pop-up shop. A pop-up Orchard, actually, with temporary digs on Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street. For anyone who has procrastinated holiday shopping – and this includes me – don’t despair. You can des-pear! And don’t forget the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day parties!
This is the Oregon-based company’s first foray in Manhattan, and just as they’ve done with gift baskets, they’ve made the Harry & David Orchard a full sensory experience. I was greeted immediately with a faint pear aroma and an offer to sample a chocolate-covered almond. The fragrance came from a scented candle on a warming lamp; the almond, from a straw basket held by a cheerful sales associate. All three items, by the way, are available for purchase.
I worked my way toward the back of the store, which houses a selection of syrups, jellies, candy, and pancake mixes. That’s where I found the tasting table, full of samples. Rest assured, I tried everything (oh the burdens of a writer) from the peppermint bark to the milk chocolate blueberries. My favorite was the Raspberry Honey Mustard Dip paired with Honey Wheat Dipping Pretzels.
But if you can forget about the food for a minute (though I won’t judge if you can’t), it’s worth pausing to contemplate the interior. The design firm Rockwell Group has given the shop the look of a stylized pear orchard in a nod to the fruit that put Harry & David on the map. The faà§ade of a barn stretches across the back, while strings of white lights stretch lazily across the interior. Merchandise is displayed around wooden crates and yes, pear trees.
One of the more noteworthy items is the Bento Box – a modern, geometric take on the gift basket that’s new for the 2010 holiday season. Shoppers can choose from any combination of in-store items to be artfully arranged on the spot by the staff for a totally customized gift. Plus, that waiting time can be used for an extra pass at the tasting table! In addition to the Bento Boxes, plenty of the traditional Harry & David offerings are available, including the Royal Riviera pears, assorted truffles, and the insanely addictive Moose Munch.
This Orchard has really embraced the NYC lifestyle. That means those of you in a rush (I know, that’s everybody) can choose to have gifts sent same-day delivery, free of charge. Those of you in an even bigger rush (also everybody) can phone in your order and arrange to pick it up at the store. Additional special features include a gift-wrapping station and Internet access to Harry & David’s online catalog.
Now, some readers out there may be such great planners that they’ve already finished their shopping. If this includes you, please share your tips with me in the comments section. In return, I’ll offer this tip: Harry & David’s Aged Cheddar Cheese Straws are fabulous with champagne, making them the perfect New Year’s Eve snack.
Harry & David Orchard (open thru Jan 2011)
155 Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street.
Hours of operation:
Mon – Sat: 10am – 7pm
Sun: 11am – 6pm