This is a story I wrote for the March 27, 2009 issue of Delaware’s Wilmington News Journal about some great stores in Philadelphia that people should stop by when they visit. I also took the photos.
The next time you visit the City of Brotherly Love, take the locals’ approach to shopping: mix it up, hit several neighborhoods and avoid the box stores.
You’ll find that Philly’s shopping scene is more than The Gallery and South Street. Unique stories can be found around the city — and they offer friendly service, reasonable prices and exceptional quality.
Start from the south and work your way north for a memorable trip. If you don’t want to drive, every neighborhood in Philadelphia is easily accessible by public transportation.
Here are five stores (with photos) worth a look.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
Where: 700 S. Fourth St.
Hours: 8 a.m.- 9 p.m. daily
Information: (215) 922-3274; famous4thstreetdelicatessen.com
The name doesn’t lie. This deli, open since 1923, is famous among Philadelphians for its sandwiches and desserts. The Queen Village deli serves traditional Jewish-style fare.
Manager Jon Park, who has been with the business for four years, says the hot corned beef special ($14-$17) with Russian dressing is among the big sellers.
If you’re planning a weekend visit to the Famous 4th Street Deli, be prepared to wait; there are no reservations, and the line often stretches out the door.
But those huge and tasty cookies — chocolate chip ($3.50) and jumbo black and white ($3.75) — are worth the wait.
Where: 1225 Walnut St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Information: (215) 627-0461; thephagshop.com
Philadelphia Home Art Garden, at 12th and Walnut streets, is the perfect one-stop shop for the home.
Since 2003, this two-floor Gayborhood retailer has been offering unusual pieces for the home. From the one-of-kind locally designed shopping cart lounge chair ($950) to the funky shower curtains ($15-$30) and the cozy couches with the warm accent pillows, P.H.A.G.’s items can accommodate every taste.
Owner Jason Cook says there is no single word to describe the store’s ever-changing inventory. But you’ll be sure to find something for that quirky aunt you always have trouble finding a present for. Be sure to check out the shop’s novelty gifts, such as a tape dispenser in the shape of a cassette tape ($22.50), a gun-shaped mold for baking ($8.50) or the Hillary Clinton nutcracker ($28.50).
The Book Trader
Where: 7 N. Second St.
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Information: (215) 925-0517; phillybook trader.googlepages.com
Just off the I-95 exit ramp in Old City, you’ll find The Book Trader. A South Street haunt for 30 years, this jam-packed bookstore moved to its Second and Market street location four years ago.
With its two floors, The Book Trader is the largest used bookstore in the city. It also has a video library.
The unbeatable prices have kept the store afloat during the economic downturn. Manager Curtis Kise says people can walk in with $5 and leave with five books. If you’re really looking to enhance your collection, take advantage of the 30 percent discount on all purchases of $50 or more.
Check out the great view from the second-story lounge and browse the immense record collection in the back room.
Delicious Boutique and Corseterie
Where: 1040 N. American St. No. 901
Hours: Noon-8 p.m. daily
Information: (215) 413-0375; deliciousboutique.com
Tucked away on Liberties Walk in Northern Liberties, the Delicious Boutique and Corseterie is just a few minutes from I-95′s Girard Avenue exit.
Owner Psydde Delicious opened the store in 2005. The carnival-style design and dim lighting in the store make for the perfect conditions to try on corsets. Expect to lay out a little green for them — depending on the customization, $400 to $500.
The boutique offers custom fittings and specialists who can help customers choose a style and demonstrate how to lace and unlace a corset.
Though the corsets are the main attraction, the boutique also sells lingerie and other women’s and men’s clothing, accessories and housewares from independent designers like Bed Stu.
Dress Up Time
Where: 7240 Frankford Ave.
Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
Information: (215) 331-0343; dressuptimeapparel.com
Ladies, if you’re in need of formal wear, Dress Up Time in Mayfair is just minutes from I-95.
Nestled between a hardware store and a beauty salon, this dress shop has it all — prom gowns, bridesmaids dresses, mother-of-the-bride/groom outfits, Bat Mitzvah dresses.
Prices for prom dresses range from $179 to $600. Mother-of-the-bride/groom dresses range from $300 to $1,200.
Owner Angie Maglio does all alterations on the premises, and once you’ve found the perfect dress, check out the accessories.
If your man is dragging his feet, send him across the street to Domenico’s Formal Wear (owned by Maglio’s husband) for a tux or suit.