Some things will never change. The best-selling title at West Side Kids, a toy store on Manhattan’s notoriously liberal Upper West Side, is, an ABC board book "for the next generation of progressives". In 1999, when I moved with my family to an apartment round the corner, I might have bet on such a book topping the neighbourhood’s bestseller lists. I would have been more careful wagering on West Side Kids’ own future. It was the year after the release of You’ve Got Mail, part of which was shot on the Upper West Side. The movie, now comically outdated, is about an unlikely romance between Tom Hanks, an executive from a rapacious books megastore, and Meg Ryan, who runs a struggling independent bookseller. Similar writing was on the wall for family-owned toy stores, or so it seemed to me.We divided our toy purchases at the time between West Side Kids, Noodle Kidoodle and KB Toys — two large newly opened chain store outlets — and FAO Schwarz, Manhattan’s best known toy shop on Fifth Ave...

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