For the second year in a row, Philadelphia City Council members and staff are sharing their recommendations on where to shop small and shop locally for the holidays.
Why should we support the city’s small businesses for holiday shopping? As a reminder:
- Small businesses reinvest in the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Local shops donate more to local causes.
- Small businesses work together as a team to create energetic, unified neighborhoods.
If you’ve made shopping small a priority in recent years, you’re not alone. Bloomberg reports that spending growth at small, “mom-and-pop” businesses has outpaced that of the big chains in the past two years.
When they’re not shopping online, Americans are seeking more personal connections and advice — something they can find lacking at national retailers.
Council Member Picks
Councilman David Oh (At Large) recommends shopping from the Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop. “The shop has served the community for over 50 years and has a great selection of cheeses and other gourmet items. The owner, Dan Weiss, is very supportive of community events and causes,” said Oh.
Councilman Derek S. Green (At Large) has a community connection to Denise’s Delicacies in North Philadelphia. “Starting on Thanksgiving, we buy our holiday desserts from Denise’s Delicacies. I first met her dad when I was a small business lender at Meridian Bank at Broad and Glenwood and I have been a customer ever since,” said Green.
Councilwoman Helen Gym (At Large) recommends that shoppers check out Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Kensington. It’s the first black female-owned comics store on the East Coast. Owner Ariell Johnson opened it in 2015 as a gathering space for kids who wanted a space to hang out and where the love of comics was shared. The store has since become a popular place for the community for book-signings, film screenings, gaming, and open-mic events. Not sure what to buy? Johnson and staff can make a recommendation for just about anyone on your list, or you can pick up one of the staff-curated comics gift packs.
2578 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
For gifts that really make a statement, Councilman Allan Domb (At Large) has two local recommendations. He suggests Lagos on Rittenhouse Square for “unique and locally-designed jewelry.” He also suggests treats from Aurora Grace, which include handcrafted chocolate bonbons, macarons and pastries that are perfect for holiday parties or gifts.
Councilman Bill Greenlee (At Large) admits that when shopping on the business corridors of Girard and Fairmount Avenues, his wife makes most of the shopping decisions while he focuses on the lunch decisions. His picks for a good, mid-shopping meal: Jack’s Firehouse on Fairmount and Little Pete’s.
Councilman Greenlee isn’t the only Council member who has food shopping on his mind. When asked about holiday shopping, Councilman Mark Squilla (1st District) said “Italians think of food over the holidays” so his recommendations include the specialty food shops of the Reading Terminal Market in Center City and the 9th Street Italian Market in South Philly. Whether you’re shopping for produce, breads, cheeses and meats, or a specific ingredient for a family recipe you make just once a year, chances are you’ll find what you need from the vendors in these markets.
City Council Staff Picks
It might be hard to believe but in this age of big box stores and online mega-retailers, you can still find independent toy stores. If you have little people on your list, try Momo’s Tree House in Old City and Fitler Square. Their unique selection of toys, books and costumes skews more towards creativity and education than, say, blockbuster movie tie-ins.
205 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
2207 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
As with toy stores, it can be very tempting to shop big when looking for books but shopping small and local may connect you with lesser-known gems that can be the perfect gift. Our staffers recommend Head House Books in Queen Village (particularly for children’s and Young Adult titles) and Joseph Fox near Rittenhouse (for gift books and special orders).
Finally, for locally-made gifts and treats, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market currently in Dilworth Park is a great place to shop and support local artisans. You’ll find books, hand-knitted items, pottery, jewelry, art, chocolate and more. Procrastinators should note that the Holiday Market is open until 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve.
Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market
Dilworth Park (west side of City Hall)
1 S 15th St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Be sure to share your favorite local small business finds on social media throughout the year using the hashtag #ShopPHL.
Photo: J. Fusco for Visit Philly, used with permission.