Fans of How I Met Your Mother will know that the ideal name for a bar would be Puzzles: People would be like, “Why’s it called Puzzles?” That’s the puzzle. In lieu of such a magnificent watering hole, the is now home to two fun and stimulating puzzle shops.
Itz-A-Puzzle is upstairs between the food court and the elevator. This is probably what most people envision when they hear “puzzle store.” It’s a veritable oasis of jigsaw puzzles that I wish I’d known about a few weeks ago when I went trolling Barnes & Noble and Toys ‘R’ Us looking for a fun puzzle with more than 300 pieces. Most of the offerings in Itz-A-Puzzle are of the 1,000- to 1,500-piece variety, which is best for extreme puzzle nerds (like yours truly) or groups. The images are lovely to boot: album covers and famous paintings, nostalgic adverts and impossible-looking florals.
Downstairs near Starbucks, is more of a head-scratcher, literally. This store deals more in brain-teaser puzzles, things that look like Rubik’s Cubes on steroids and whose difficulty seems inversely proportional to how simple they appear. Marbles is the kind of store that’s a blast to browse. Most of the products are out for display, allowing you to poke and prod and play like a kid in a toy store. Just try not to knock over an innocuous tower of wooden pieces (just from imagination, I’m guessing that would be embarrassing.)
Marbles takes the “Brain Store” part of their name seriously, dividing their products by benefit. Some enhance your word skills, some your coordination, others your… um… oh yeah, your memory. Intense and pricey “brain training” software takes up a large chunk of real estate, but most people are more likely drawn to things like a $10 dinosaur-origami kit. History buffs may be interested in recreating Leonardo da Vinci’s catapult for $25. And I’m guessing most everyone by now can get into some Sudoku books. Whether you want to stimulate your mind or tantalize your sense of fun, Marbles has you covered.
It’s always refreshing to see something different in the mall; diversity is the spice of life, after all. Both Marbles: The Brain Store and Itz-A-Puzzle are great fun to browse through on a leisurely shopping trip and, incidentally, are smart stops for those holiday gifts you’ll be buying before you know it. Who said shopping couldn’t make you smarter?