NFT Philadelphia Shopping

Philadelphia / Shopping

It must be humbly admitted: We're still catching on to the fashion thing. Macy's is as good as it gets at the moment for department stores, and Walnut Street is the closest thing to any sort of "Fashion District." But you know what? Screw it. If you really want a day of big-name shopping, drive out to the King of Prussia Mall. For the funky, the used, or (fine, if you really want 'em) a $200 pair of jeans, read on!

For sophisticates whose hair is of the utmost importance, Giovanni & Pileggi (Map 2) will lovingly apply their brand of follicle therapy and Liquid (Map 2), also quite chic, will turn you out perfect. Other talented stylists tailor tresses at Salon Vanity (Map 2) and Richard Nicholas (Map 2). Crave an edgy 'do from a man who makes sculptures out of human hair? Check out Julius Scissor (Map 1).

Always start with the shoes! Head Start Shoes (Map 2) is hands and feet down the most deliriously euro-hip place for women's shoes--starting at 200 bucks, it's okay if you just want to look . . . or try on . . . or . . . On the flipside, Bare Feet (Map 3, 7, 11) is a cheap, super fun adventure in kicks and threads, while Vagabond (Map 4) sells elegantly artsy, flowing designs for women. The Gap Outlet (Map 2) is a hidden gem for deals if you don't mind the line. For the men folk only, if Boyd's (Map 2) is good enough for NBA 'ballers, it's probably okay for you, too. Sports fan who has (nearly) everything? Mitchell & Ness (Map 3) sells the unique throwback jerseys that can't go out of style. But if you need to suit up, do it in style at Henry A. Davidson (Map 2). For a slightly (and just slightly) cheaper take on Urban Outfitters (Map 2, 14), go by Retrospect (Map 8) on South Street for a chance to buy the Salvation Army's best, plucked from those racks and brought to you here. Oh, and if you crave the skintight, designed-by-a-perv look, don't worry: we have American Apparel (Map 14), too.

Home and Gift
For the kitchen, Fante's (Map 8) offers every conceivable appliance, device, and gadget, and Philadelphia Bar & Restaurant Supply (Map 8) can get you all your pots, pans, and glasses for cheap. If you're a student trying to fill an empty apartment, check out Uhuru (Map 3), but be prepared for Free Mumia indoctrination before, during, and after all purchases. The delightful PHAG (Map 3) sells hip vinyl furniture, kooky martini glasses, and more, while Bulb (Map 1) purveys all manner of interior lighting. Looking for something that just screams, "Hello!"? Check out Hello World (Map 2) and Hello Home (Map 3). It's impossible to go wrong at Open House (Map 3), which sells swervy furniture, geometric lamps, clever espresso cups, and even body products. If you're not quite sure what you're looking for, check out handmade grab-bag Art Star (Map 19), and feel good supporting independent artists. When you're ready to dress up your outdoor space (if you're lucky enough to have one), stop by Urban Jungle (Map 8), which caters to city yards. When you're done decorating, throw a party and pick up supplies at Occassionette (Map 10), a Pinterest board brought to life. Finally, after a long day of hitting the pavement, stop by the Random Tea Room (Map 19) and score a bag of something entirely soothing.

Chunky is in, and De' Village (Map 3) in Reading Terminal Market sells some pretty heavy pieces--wood, gems, or shells, there's something big and bold to be found here. Another notable place to pick up chunk is at the Philadelphia Flea Market (various locations), which comes around in the spring, summer, and fall months, and where vendors display box after box of the stuff. Not into chunk? Items of the daintier variety can be found at Moon & Arrow (Map 8) and Urban Princess (Map 8). We'd talk about diamonds but we don't want to. Your status quo, status-driven engagement is not our problem.

Walnut Street (Map 2)
Shopping is a dangerous addiction for some. When you don't have money to make a purchase, that Coach print can haunt you, redundantly, in your dreams. Sometimes you just need a new necklace to make it through the day. The businesses on Walnut Street understand. They know you'll drop your last dime at Urban Outfitters or, for a sexy breed of biz-casual, at Zara--even if that means you have to eat Easy Mac every day for a week. H&M has most of us addicted--but if you're repulsed by cheap fashion, at least take advantage of the freon dumping zone out front during a hot day. Anthropologie, for the mature urban-outfit wearer, resides in a building that outshines the clothes--a 19th century mansion formerly occupied by the founder of the store. It's always amusing when a t-shirt costs $200, which is where Ubiq, quite unabashedly, pops in its ugly, rave-chic head. Athleta awards you the identity of being the best dressed gym rat in the locker room (though they do get props for their uber-liberal return policy). And then there's the Apple Store, for all your iNeeds.

Yep, singular. There's only one mall in the heart of the city--The Gallery at Market East (Map 3). Chaotic, crowded, kids screaming on the escalators, and teenagers ruefully sucking lollipops, Market East has always seemed reminiscent of that scene in the educational film about Free Market Capitalism, shot in the eighties, that you watched in Applied Economics class. This "bustling economy" has got the usual roundup of stores like Old Navy (Map 3), where consumers can choose at their leisure what they most totally need to have based on, of course, the laws of supply and demand. It also has the convenience of being a convergence of all main bus and train lines, not to mention being nice and close to the Greyhound Bus Terminal (If ever there was a sign of swank . . .).

Department Store
Macy's (Map 3) is Center City's only department store--unless you count K-Mart. Its window displays are more depressing than seeing somebody's run-over cat in the street and they haven't come home yet and they're about to find out. Or like Russian orphans. Sad, sad mannequins. So sad.

You can deck yourself in Versace circa 1992 or dig for even earlier finds at stores like Sophisticated Seconds (Map 2) and Immortal Uncommon (Map 2) and snag some one-of-a-kind furniture for your digs at Uhuru (Map 3). Shaggy chic finds can be bought and sold at Buffalo Exchange (Map 2), as well as Green Street Consignment (Map 3) and Philly AIDS Thrift (Map 8). Retrospect (Map 8) gets a bad rap for marking up cool stuff they found at the Salvation Army by about 1000%--but, just like on the playground, rules are rules, and they found it first!

If you're the next Bill Gates-in-training, head over to Bundy (Map 2) or Springboard Media (Map 1) to fuel your PC needs. The Apple Store (Map 2) on Walnut Street means that you don't have to traipse out to King of Prussia or Cherry Hill.

Whether you're a Butch Walker fan or a Lady Gaga junkie, Sound of Market Street (Map 3) has the biggest selection since Tower Records went out of business. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful at AKA Music (Map 4), and can turn you on to underground artists. Creep Records (Map 19) and Borderline Records (Map 19) spin and sell good tunes, but you must be in-the-know to graze at Repo (Map 8). Nearby Philadelphia Record Exchange (Map 8) is also well-worth a browse.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Massage Arts Center of Philadelphia
Massage. You know you want one. But (if you’re anything like me), you know you could never afford one. Until now. As little as $35 guarantees an hour-long session with a masseuse-in-training at the Massage Arts Center of Philadelphia. Bring them your tired, your poor, your stiff of muscle and weary of heart. And no need for student snobbery here. In four visits (and counting), this stiff girl's experience has been par excellence. (And trust me, the twisted knot where my spine once was gives them a serious run for their money.) If you're truly trainee-wary, you can always pay more for time with a fully accredited member of their staff. Sessions are available Sunday through Friday, but call ahead; they are available by appointment only. So count your pennies and schedule your Shiatsu already. What are you waiting for?

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Pierre's Costumes
Let's face it. Halloween might be the most likely time of year we find ourselves in need of vampire teeth and full-body Viking armor...but it's not the only time. Praise be to Dionysus, God of spectacle and misrule, then, that Pierre’s Costumes is open year round, catering to the costume junkie in us all with true panache. Does Santa need to visit for Christmas in July? Pierre's can hook you up. Jonesing for a Marie Antoinette tea-and-cake party? Need to prank the boss with a visit from the Energizer Bunny? Look no further. And if all you need is cheap pirate trinkets or Sexy Nurse lingerie, well, you’re still in luck. But just dare. Dare to leave the store without your Viking Armor.

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Sweet Tooth
It seems the northwest corner of 5th and Bainbridge was born under a saccharine star. The corner storefront vacated by the defunct (and truly missed) Pink Rose Bakery has been quickly inhabited, this time with sugar of a more packaged flavor. At Sweet Tooth, the new corner store devoted to fixing your sugar jag, bin after sugar-laden bin lines the walls, carrying everything from chocolate covered pretzels to Lemonheads, Red Hots, and Root Beer Barrels. Mix n' match bins of Jelly Belly flavors let you concoct your own jelly bean cocktail. Diabetic candy lovers are not neglected; the sugar-free section lines the front window. It's all self-serve, and you can buy as much or as little as you want. It seems like a sugar-lover's dream come true; but there's something vaguely cold and impersonal about it all, and the locavore in me only wishes that Pink Rose's legacy would have been left to better hands.

Posted By:  Augustin Kendall
Photo:  Augustin Kendall

VIP Food & Produce
Gourmet, maybe not. Groceries, definitely. I reroute my travels through this neighborhood to go here if I am in need of a snack. Finding snacks is easy, you say? It is not, when you're in a business district and corner stores, if they exist, close early. Or when you're supremely picky and demanding, like I am. There's a buffet the length of the store on one side, even a seating area in the back. They sell beer (six packs only, not much in the way of singles) as well as other drinks, and have produce I'd even consider buying. VIP isn't a deli, and it isn't a Whole Foods-level market (both of those exist within a couple blocks of VIP). It is a place to eat a decent meal, buy mint sauce, apple cider vinegar, Vitamin Water, non-domestic candy, Daifuku (mochi with red bean paste filling), fancy or regular potato chips, seaweed get the idea. Citi Marketplace, a couple doors down, looks nicer from the outside. Don't be fooled.

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Fante's Kitchen Shop
Whether your culinary piece de resistance is Beef Bourguignon or Chef Boyardee, Fante's is your one-stop kitchen shopping destination. You can pick up your Le Creuset Dutch Oven and your avocado saver all at once, assisted by the Fante's staff--who are knowledgeable, friendly, and refreshingly laid back. Even if you're not in the market for a canape bread mold, it's worth a wander through Fante's aisles, where you'll find a bevy of gadgets you never knew you needed. (But you do! Six-in one garlic press and meat tenderizer...letter-shaped ice trays...need we say more?) The back room is this baker's personal favorite, where you'll find a grandmother's ransom in cake molds, springform pans, and specialty muffin tins. From pasta makers to pots de creme, from aprons to apple bakers, Julie & Julia won't have nothin' on you once you've outfitted your inner chef at Fante's.

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