Of the areas that seasoned New Yorkers know to avoid—Central Park at night, Broadway on Saturday afternoons, Penn Station whenever you need a cab—Times Square is, of course, at the tippy-top of the list. It's where cheerful tourists and busy businesswomen mix like oil and water, if only oil and water both walked at horrifyingly different speeds.
Yet, deep in the 42nd Street subway station, past the performers, the record store that somehow still exists, the religious pamphlet hawkers, and that never-ending tunnel is something worth searching for: a small, jewelry-packed shop called Backwoods NYC.
You might have to sleuth a bit to find it, but it's there. If there's a sign for Backwoods, I've never seen it; I only inquired about the name after looking clueless too many times after being complimented on my finds. Just follow the ACE signs, and look for the wall of earrings behind the glass store doors. What appears to be your run-of-the-mill cheap jewelry store or "schlock house," as my Yiddush-filled upbringing taught me, is actually a veritable treasure trove filled with enough statement necklaces, boho accessories and badass bracelets to make you look like an heiress to the Free People throne.
Now, it's not exactly a Garden of Eden—there are tons of mom earrings and plastic accessories reminiscent of those you'd bypass on Canal Street—but the back wall is something special indeed. It's covered in silver necklaces with dangling coins, chunky turquoise bibs, and colorful statement chokers, most ringing in at $15 and topping out at $25. (I only ever saw one $30 necklace there. It was gigantic.) It's a pretty good deal, especially when near-identical options for giving your summer dresses a boost will run you $48 or $58 or even $98.
The bracelet selection is equally worthwhile, as are the earrings closest to the register, but that's where my knowledge of Backwoods ends. Are these budget-friendly baubles made of zinc? Plastic? Steel-dipped magic? Like the mystery that is how Taylor Swift now resembles a supermodel, we may never know. But, the pieces I've bought there have held held up as well as most of my jewelry, and regardless, you will walk in and want everything. There has never been a time when I haven't had to sort through a makeshift tower of jewelery at the cashier counter because my hands were overflowing with options.
Though I've collected antique pieces and ‘80s treasures and one-of-a-kind necklaces since the beginning of time, my Backwoods purchases are far and away my favorites, and everyone else's too. I've been complimented in multiple countries, befriended an intimidating hostess and even pulled off overalls at a semi-formal restaurant, all because of these bad boys. They have power, people. Boho baubles at budget prices, for the mere entrance fee of a MetroCard swipe.
And to think, you almost stopped at Trader Joe's on the way home instead.