Volume 76, Number 39 | February 21 -27, 2007

Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

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Dinosaur Hill owner Pamela Pier,


the International Toy Fair opened earlier this month for 15,000 buyers, representatives and other toy-business types, several dozen of these took a tour of three local businesses. Two of the shops were in Times Square: heavy hitters Nintendo World and Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Store. The third was the East Village’s ecl

inth St. between First and Second Aves., Dinosaur Hill has been offering toys both familiar and

d down Ninth St., past a table with free coffee and cakes from neighboring Veselka restaurant, East Village performer Clown Joey stood above it all, on stilts, and

glad to get people out of Midtown and down here to the East Village,” said Pamela Pier, Dinosaur Hill’s owner, as the store filled with people who had the wide-eyed look of children as they saw the unusual and colorful collection of toys, puppets and games. “I’m thrilled to have out-of-towners discover the real New York,” she added as she

People gazed, touched, held and marveled at the items within reach. Their Midtown stops had merely provided tastes of candy bars and video games; here, their inner children emerged complete with “oohs,” “aahs” and more than one “look at this!”

Visitors included members of the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, toy stores in Bermuda and the Netherlands and a candy manufacturer from Spain.

Several women spent time trying on a variety of colorful, hand-woven, locally produced hats.

“She attracts craftspeople,” store employee Naomi Machado said of Pier. “A lot of things are made by local people.”

Pier is an artist and craftsperson herself and former preschool teacher.

“My present aim is to feature items that encourage discovery of the natural world, and to discourage children from sitting for hours in front of the flat screen,” Pier said.

The store’s specialties include marionettes, hand puppets, finger puppets and puppet theaters, as well as one-of-a-kind, colorful clothing in natural fibers, made by artisans from New York City to Bali.

The toy fairgoers started filling their arms with toys, puppets and anything else that caught their fancy, as salespeople rang up hundreds of dollars of purchases. People placed their selections on the counter next to a sign reading, “Global warming affects all living creatures.” Those waiting to pay were serenaded by a small child playing a toy harmonica as his mother waited patiently to pay.

Pier fielded questions about how an independent store deals with New York rent and whether she has an Internet presence. In fact, Dinosaur Hill recently went online.

In addition to the free coffee and cakes, Pier gave each visitor a goody bag filled with a guide to shopping in the East Village, a book and magnet and small, heart-shaped cookies. Many people said they’d be in town for the week and asked for dining and shopping suggestions. Keeping the emphasis on the East Village, Pier and her staff dispensed advice on the best local eateries and stores.

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