There was a time when the most fashionable Philadelphians regularly made the two-hour trip to New York for all their serious shopping needs. Fortunately, as with most things in Philadelphia, the shopping scene has come into its own, especially in the past decade.
The major shopping districts have expanded while increasing numbers of unique, independent shops have sprung up in neighborhoods throughout the city. With no shortage of mega-chains, small boutiques, art galleries, vintage shops, and much more, you will have no problem finding everything your consumer heart desires.
Philadelphia’s shops have a flavor all their own. While the latest trends make their marks here as they do everywhere else, many of the city’s independent, local designers and buyers remain true to their tastes regardless of what is on the runway. And while Philly cannot compare to New York in its quantity of offerings, shopping in Philly is more manageable, more affordable, and, dare I say, often more fun.
In addition to the major downtown shopping areas, including Old City, Rittenhouse, and South Street, there are the artsy boutiques of Northern Liberties, the college-dominated shops in University City, and South Philadelphia’s eclectic Passyunk Avenue.
The three shopping rows—Jeweler’s Row, Fabric Row, and Antique Row—offer unparalleled selections. Head to Chinatown for all things Asian, or Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market for kitchenwares, gourmet treats, and other specialty items.
Weekends are bustling in all the major shopping areas, so go during the week to avoid crowds. Many stores in Center City stay open later on Wednesday evenings, closing at 8 or 9 p.m. rather than 5 or 6 p.m. Most Center City shops are open seven days a week, but in some neighborhoods, many shops are closed on Monday. And remember, there is no sales tax on clothing in Pennsylvania, so take full advantage if you’re looking for any big-ticket items.
- Best Independent Bookstore: Joseph Fox Bookshop
- Best Vinyl Selection: Philadelphia Record Exchange
- Best Sports Gear: Mitchell & Ness
- Best Shoe Store: Benjamin Lovell Shoes
- Most Unique Home Store: PHAG
- Best Gift Store: AIA Bookstore and Design Center
- Prettiest Paper Shop: Details
- Best Place to Get a Handmade Messenger Bag: R.E. Load Baggage
- Best Bath and Body Shop: Duross & Langel
- Best Place to Take a Break: Terme Di Aroma
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition