Is the Philadelphia Airport the New Mall? Pilot & Captain Seems to Think So

Shoppist chatted with the brand to get all the details on their unusual retail move.

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To be honest, when we got word that wanderlust-inspired brand Pilot & Captain was opening a retail location in Philadelphia Airport’s Terminal C on May 1st, we were a little confused. How would we get to it? Would we have to book a flight to shop there? And why, of all places, would they choose to open their first retail location in … an airport?

To get the scoop on their surprising move, we chatted with Pilot & Captain brand manager Chelsea Solitrin.




Shoppist: Obviously the choice to open in the airport is a unique choice. Was that always in the cards? Why there as opposed to a Philly neighborhood?

Chelsea Solitrin: Pilot & Captain was started in 2012. Organically, the brand started growing much more rapidly than we had ever anticipated. So, we started thinking about opening a physical space and how it was something that we'd all really be interested in doing. We're curators by nature, so between the merchandising, general design, etc., it was without a doubt something that we wanted to do. With the brand still formally in it's infancy though, we knew it was a a focus for further down the line.

The opportunity to open up a space in Philadelphia Airport was part of a general brand exploration on our end, as far as retail space goes. Once we found out about the opportunities and logistics involved in being present in that space, we decided to move forward with it. It seems like the right next step for us, and as far as audiences go it couldn't it be more perfect.

S: Have you noticed a shift at all with other small-business retail stores popping up in airports?

CS: Not overtly. It seems that retail outlets at airports are still pretty standard for the most part. It's expected that most of the shopping that travelers have access to are convenience-based. We aim to offer customers something much more unique and identifiable.

S: So, what's the deal with your "comprehensive airport-retail program"? 

CS: We'd like to think that because of the nature of a lot of our products, airports are a perfect platform for Pilot & Captain. Our presence in PHL is the foundation for what will hopefully be a longview retail experience.

S: The brand is Philly-based, do you think there's a larger emphasis on the Philly side or are the cities fairly evenly dispersed amongst your merchandise?

For the purpose of the PHL location, there will definitely a bit more of a focus on Philadelphia (and the surrounding region) [Ed. note: Woooooo!] but we're not necessarily limiting the product offerings to just that. There will be an array of goods offered that run the gamut — apparel, housewares, gift items, etc. Some of the goods will be geographically specific, while others will not.

S: Is there anything Philly-centric you plan to integrate into the new shop?

CS: Aside from the general mix of products, we'll be offering items specific to Philadelphia, including tee shirts, postcards, bags and some totally new products —  housewares, notebooks, magnets.

As jealous as we may be, we'll just have to stock up the next time we're passing through the Philadelphia airport. And for those frequent fliers: This is so much better than an Auntie Anne's pretzel. 

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