9 Ways Philly Boutiques, Brands, and Makers Pivoted Quickly Amid the Coronavirus Crisis

Just like restaurants, the retail scene had to adapt on the fly.

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Philadelphia boutiques’ coronavirus responses include making face masks, hand sanitizer, and donating to organizations in need. Photograph courtesy Toile

Just like restaurants, Philly’s boutiques, brands and makers have had to pivot — and quickly. Here are nine ways area shops are adapting to the coronavirus crisis.

1. They’re keeping us healthy.

A bunch of crafty boutique owners have fired up their sewing machines and are making masks, including these two: Shelly Horst of South Philly’s Room Shop Vintage is selling hers for $18. Bianca De Pietro of Toile in Fishtown has plain ones for $8 and versions embroidered with “Protect Ya Face” for $15. She’s using the funds to make free masks for health-care workers. But masks aren’t the only option. For $32, Fashion Statement in Bryn Mawr is selling cute pink, white and black baseball caps that ingeniously snap onto a face shield.

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Consider tie-dying your old clothing and accessories. Photograph courtesy Dye It Pepper

2. They’re making clean-outs fun.

Winnowing your closet during the quarantine? Us, too. Before you toss that old stuff, consider revamping it with Sacs by Jac, an offering from Dye It Pepper founder Jackie Pepper Green. The tie-dye queen will mail you a big sack to stuff with old pillowcases, tote bags, college sweatshirts — even baby onesies. You fill out a customization form and send it back. A few weeks later, your old duds arrive better than ever — thanks to the bright new tie-dye. $179;

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Get custom candles from Wax + Wine. Photograph courtesy Wax + Wine

3. They’re finding ways to offer signature experiences.

Pine Street’s Wax + Wine was built around being in the shop: Customers choose from a large selection of scents and vessels and pour their own candles. (BYOB encouraged.) Now, they’re doing what they’ve always done, but via e-mail. Well, with one bonus: You can name your candle, and it will get a custom label. (Mother’s Day gift alert!) Start by contacting $25 per candle;

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Hand purifier by Sabbatical Beauty. Photograph courtesy Sabbatical Beauty

4. They went from making serums to sanitizers.

Adeline Koh of Sabbatical Beauty usually whips up Korean beauty-inspired cleansers, lotions and skin-care products out of her Bok Building workshop. She quickly put her know-how to good use by creating a line of botanical-rich, alcohol-based tinctures that are as effective as Purell but — thanks to lavender, hops and lemon balm — are also calming and moisturizing. (Added bonus: They smell like a spa.) $10 to $35;


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5. They’re killing it on Instagram.

The days of investing beauçoup bucks on e-commerce sites are over, thanks to technology that makes Instagram shoppable. These area boutiques are brilliantly translating their shop personalities to social media.

Free shop (@freeshopambler)
This Ambler spot has posts filled with adorable spring outfits — think off-the-shoulder blouses and wide-leg jeans — sure to eliminate the what-would-I-wear-that-with conundrum.

Hello Geisha (@thegeishahouse)
Short and swingy in shades of yellow, a flirty green option with ruching, a maxi in a flower print plus lace: This Old City store has summer dresses in spades.

T. Tribe (@ttribeshop)
The ankle-length printed skirts, denim coveralls and silk suits at this Rittenhouse destination are vintage, made locally, or small-batch runs (and sometimes all three!).

Noble Goods (@thenoblegoods)
This well-stocked Chestnut Hill shop’s accessories are what stand out: go-with-everything flat sandals, an ivory leather tote bag, tennis shoes straight from Paris …

Wayward Collection (@waywardcollection)
Wayward’s curated vintage pieces (a ’70s Anne Klein top, a ’60s flower-print set, a sparkly Missoni cardigan) are usually sold out of Cuttalossa in Old City, but shopping for them on IG is just as fun.

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Alex Gushner, Kent Gushner and Jessica Sobel of Boyds. Photograph courtesy Boyds Philadelphia

6. They’re going big.

Boyds is donating a portion of sales to Jefferson Hospital’s COVID-19 Better Together Fund, which is providing resources to employees and students who are keeping everyone safe. The goal? To raise 100K. To get there, the store has partnered with two other big Philly brands — Di Bruno Bros. and Govberg Jewelers — and Jeff is matching their donations.

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Photograph courtesy Dana Bank

7. They’re launching anyways.

After a years-long break, Dana Bank was prepping to reopen her beloved Rittenhouse jewelry store, Townhome, as an online-only boutique with a new name. Then she watched COVID hit — but went ahead anyway. Now her shoppable Instagram and site are filled with the same goods she was always known for: edgy diamond studs, bracelets made for layering, and delicate necklaces, all of which look awesome with sweatpants. Book a virtual appointment and she’ll curate stuff for you.

8. They’re still connecting with customers.

Instead of in-person visits, shops are hosting private Zoom and FaceTime sessions.

Clean out your closet with Kin Boutique.
Antique Row shop owner Joey Clark has a talent for knowing which jackets, dresses and jeans will look best on you, no matter your style or size. Now she’s doing her thing via screen time and will drop off new duds for free. She’s also hosting closet clean-out sessions and will help rebuild your wardrobe based on what you keep.

Get hair tips from Marsh + Mane.
This Society Hill shop is making the most of quarantine by hosting virtual product demos and hair tutorials (how to get wash-and-go hair; how to do mini-twists) with the owners and experts on the regular. Keep up via Instagram. ­

Design wedding invites with Chick Invitations.
The Old City wedding pros are hosting FaceTime meetings that work the same as in-shop appointments: An expert will get a sense of your budget, taste and style, then create digital catalogs of options for you to peruse. Further along in planning? Drop by an Instagram Live workshop; they cover everything from building a bridesmaid gift box to dealing with awkward etiquette situations.

Redo your makeup routine with Beke Beau.
Missing Sephora? Invite this makeup artist into the bathroom with you. She’ll comb through your products, show you how to best use the stuff you’ve got, and send you color and product recommendations after the call.

philadelphia boutiques coronavirus response

Clean out your closet with Kin Boutique. Photograph by Rosie Simmons

9. They’re making gifting — or self-gifting — really easy.

Bundles, boxes, baskets and clubs!

The staff picks and themed tables are the best parts of shopping at Head House Books. Now, they’ve put their lists on Instagram (“Books to Get You Through … ” is especially apt) and will deliver in Philly for free. They’re also dispatching books of the month (a great gift) and hosting virtual book clubs.

Momo’s Tree House has upped its website by adding giant age-appropriate bundles filled with tried-and-true games, activities and toys that will keep the kids occupied for way longer than those impulse Amazon buys. (And they’ll video-chat if you want something more custom, too.)

Baby Gifts
It’s certainly strange to have a baby during the lockdown — buh-bye, birth plan — but you can still send best wishes and personalized love to new parents via gift baskets from Melange. They’re stocked with adorable onesies, fuzzy bunnies, toys and socks; the shop is also offering no-contact drop-off.

Published as “In With the New” in the May 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.