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Meet the Blender Whisperers

Yes, that’s a thing. And the women of Park Slope’s Tarzian West cookware store are just that.

Photography by Gabriel Zimmer

It was late March, and Tarzian West had a problem: The Park Slope, Brooklyn neighborhood treasure was running out of blenders. It was a good problem for store owner Judy Kow, who quickly got to restocking the cookware store with the gadgets. “We sell most blenders in the spring and summer,” says salesperson Lia Golano, who is also an assistant buyer for the store. “There’s also an uptick in January, when people have their New Year’s resolutions. We see a lot of ‘juice more’ and ‘eat healthier.’” Since most of us mere mortals end up ditching our resolutions a few months (er, weeks) in, it’s a good thing that a sparkling new blender can do more than just make a killer smoothie. (In fact, it can even make ice cream!)

Tarzian West, which is covered wall-to-wall with everything from candy-colored Le Crueset dishes to avocado pitters, gets its name from the Tarzian family, who founded it in 1977. Kow purchased the shop 10 years ago and has expanded the business, while maintaining its original charm—she opened Lucky Rubber Ducky right next door to Tarzian in October 2016. The swoon-worthy home and lifestyle store sells glasswear, gauzy scarves, and everything in between. “Tarzian West has everything you need, and Lucky Rubber Ducky has everything you want,” says Golano.

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Blenders fall into that “everything you need” category. But before you buy one, Tarzian West salesperson Stephanie Phippen suggests considering what you’re going to be blending, and how often you’ll be doing so. “Are you going to be using it to make purees, sauces, and soups? Are you going to be making smoothies or mixed drinks?” she asks. “If you’re crushing ice every day, you want something that can handle the constant use.” When it comes to the most durable of the bunch, both Golano and Phippen consider the Vitamix 780 to be the Lamborghini of blenders. At a heart-stopping $699.99, the blender has a touchscreen display that features ten different speed controls (“you can really fine tune texture,” Phippen says), a self-cleaning function, which makes life so much easier, and pre-programmed settings that will warm up or cool down your homemade soups or sorbets. And unlike any other blenders out there, the Vitamix boasts a 2.2-horsepower motor, which means chopping through nuts for your own peanut or almond butter is a breeze. (Plus, with the machine’s radio cooling fan, it will never overheat). For all that cash, the Vitamix come with a seven-year warranty, unlike most blenders, which typically offer four-to-five year policies.

Both Golano and Phippen consider the Vitamix 780 to be the Lamborghini of blenders.

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But admittedly, not everybody needs a Lamborghini. “If someone is looking for an everyday blender, they’re more likely to go with the KitchenAid Diamond given the price point and durability,” says Golano. The popular mid-range blender checks in at $150 and is ideal for someone who’s going to be making a smoothie here and there, or a mixed drink every once in a while. The machine doesn’t offer Vitamix’s heating and cooling functions, so while you can still make an ice cream base, the freezer is going to have to do a lot of the work. The KitchenAid offers five speeds instead of Vitamix’s 10, and comes with a five-year warranty. Another selling point of the lower-priced blender is the brand’s penchant for color. The KitchenAid Diamond comes in 16 different color combinations, and many Tarzian West customers are drawn to the red to match their kitchens. “Around Valentine’s Day a man wanted the red one for his wife,” says Phippen.

“Around Valentine’s Day a man wanted the red one for his wife,” says Phippen.

In addition to the Vitamix and KitchenAid blenders, which come with larger carafes, Golano and Phippen also recommend the Kult Mix-n-Go personal blender from German brand, WMF. When it comes to bringing new models into the store, Tarzian West relies heavily on customer feedback. “Our customers will often want something that’s a little more affordable, which is why we have the WMF blender,” says Golano. At $66.99, the Kult Mix-n-Go’s 20-ounce carafe comes with a lid to transform into an on-the-go smoothie container, perfect for the New York City store’s fast-paced customers. Without any bells and whistles, not to mention the smaller size, anything complicated like soups or sauces won’t be doable, but the WMF blender is perfect for a single-serve smoothie.

While all of the blenders that Tarzian West sells are BPA-free, Golano suggests also keeping your eye on the blade while shopping for a blender. “You want to look for a four-pronged stainless steel blade,” she says. “The four prongs allow the nutrients and fibers to be extracted from fruit and vegetables so you’ll get a more enriched smoothie. That’s the main difference between a blender and a juicer—when you’re juicing, you don’t get a lot of those nutrients.” New Year’s resolutions, you’ve met your match.

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