We confess: We totally play those free-with-purchase Urban Outfitters CDs at parties and pass them off as our own mixes. But lately, it’s not just Urban that’s pulling off the not-so-guerrilla brand-extension thing and making shopping trips lifestyle “experiences”: We’ve repeatedly found ourselves lingering around shops just to hear the end of whatever song is on the play-list. It all started at Anthropologie (multiple locations; anthropologie.com), when we heard KT Tunstall’s catchy-corny Girl Anthem “Suddenly I See,” and had to immediately download it to our iPod. Next, it happened at Third Street Habit (153 North 3rd Street, 215-925-5455; thirdstreethabit.com), where a mix of David Bowie, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan inspired us to burn a similar CD of our own. Liz Scarlett sells the CDs she plays at Scarlett Alley (241 Race Street, 215-592-7898; scarlettalley.com) — with the likes of Eldissa, a lounge singer who adds a sultry spin to covers of “Ring My Bell” and “Stayin’ Alive.” Matthew Izzo (multiple locations; matthewizzo.com), whose employees include DJs Erica Baran and Michael Anderer, will also be selling music for the holidays. And at Suky in Ardmore (102 East Montgomery Avenue, 610-649-3686; sukyoccasions.com), music goes beyond the stereo: Every mirror in the store has wedding song lyrics delicately etched into a corner.
Originally published in Philadelphia Magazine, November 2006