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United Nations Gift Centre
Mar-Dec: Daily, 9am-5pm; Jan-Feb: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm; Sat-Sun, closed
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Far from your typical I (Heart) NY gift shop, the UN Gift Centre may stock terry aprons and patent leather totes stamped with the ubiquitous NY-pride phrase, but the real goodies are far more global. Set up like a touch-and-feel world map, the store uses ID tags to denote country of origin, and to help tourists navigate the space. Since everything’s made in their respective countries, look elsewhere for brand names; instead of Barbie, find Haitian, Columbian or Ethiopian dolls (the latter, a knit one, is especially scrumptious) and Kenyan Woodcarung statues, meant to protect the home. In the center of the gift shop, an impressive collection of jewelry, like 18th-century Austrian enamel lockets and Vogue-ready boho-luxe necklaces from the Democratic Republic of Congo, sit behind glass. The Centre is also the exclusive provider of such UN-embossed gear as glass coasters, T-shirts and key chains. Overwhelmed? Do yourself a favor and ask for Hanaa, the Director of Purchasing and Merchandise. A petite Egyptian who favors all-red ensembles, she’s worked at the gift center for more than three decades, and can recount the history of every item in stock. She’ll even guess your country of origin, at no extra charge.