Philadelphia women who want to look impeccably stylish, with just the right amount of edge, know who to call: Joan Shepp. Even willowy leading lady Anne Hathaway has shopped at 1616 Walnut Street, where Shepp has dressed the rich and famous since 1999, when she moved her Elkins Park shop to the more regal Rittenhouse location. But now, Shepp tells me that the Walnut Street boutique must close.
“We’re definitely not wanted here,” says Shepp, pictured with daughter and business partner Ellen Shepp.
The 71-year-old Shepp explains that the building recently sold and that the new landlord wants her out. “They’re making apartments upstairs, and they want a chain store downstairs,” she says. “They’re not really concerned about who it is. They just want to get the highest rent, and they’ll give the space to whoever is going to pay them the most.”
Shepp’s lease is up in September, and she has started looking for a new location, although comparable real estate options in Rittenhouse are slim.
“They’re starting to work on the building and put up scaffolding, and they’re closing the garage at the end of the month,” she says. “It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”
Meanwhile, Shepp is preparing for her annual Black History Month event, Women of Substance and Style. On February 13th, Shepp will honor 36 African American women from Philadelphia with awards and donate 10-percent of all sales that day to a juvenile diabetes foundation.
[Photo: HughE Dillon, PhillyChitChat.com]