Best of Philly: Gift Shops and Drones and Watches, Oh My!
Best of Philly 2016 is now online as well as at newsstands. Check out the best in Philadelphia-made goods as well as the rest of the best in food, drink, shopping, beauty, health, fitness, fun and games.
We’ve already rounded up the best in men’s and women’s shopping, as well as Kardashian-worthy beauty, but what about gift shops and bookstores and the like? From the hottest baby boutiques to the dopest drone stores (it is 2016, after all), here’s where to go for everything else.
BABY STORE: Minnow Lane
With a focus on organic, sustainable, nontoxic, ethically made goods, this eco-friendly Fishtown gem has high standards for its products. But that doesn’t limit the overflowing selection of toys and clothes for baby and pampering treats (think: aromatherapy sprays) for mom, all of which will earn you a gold star at the next baby shower.
BATH AND BODY SHOP: Volta Market
Meet the neighborhood mom-and-pop shop with a holistic twist. Under the store’s small-batch organics line, you’ll find Dead Sea salt mud masks, silky body butters, and a giant hutch housing every kind of bar soap you never knew you needed.
CHILDREN’S BOUTIQUE: Believe
The last thing one expected to find on a random corner in South Philly: a jewel-box boutique for the under-10 set, flush with European lines of dresses, jumpsuits, tees and shoes that toe the line between too-cool-for-school and utterly adorable.
CUSTOMIZED GIFTS: Sweet Whistle
Easiest way to become everyone’s favorite friend? Buy your gifts from this Bryn Mawr-based online company, which curates luxe gift boxes full of festive items — cocktail ingredients, truffles, candles, catchalls — that feel handpicked and thoughtful. You can even modify the pairings (or create your own) to perfectly tailor your present.
DRONE STORE: Liberty Drones
Don’t be fooled by the small space and single-focus selection (literally, it’s all drones here): Philly’s first drone store has everything from mosquito-buzzing, laser-tagging mini-drones for the kids to the latest in professional-grade technology, with 4K video resolution, three-mile flying range, hover stabilization and even crash-proof settings.
GIFT SHOP: Moon + Arrow
You won’t find anything flashy here. That’s the beauty of this flea-market-like store, which brims with handcrafted, low-key-cool treasures like fringed yarn wall hangings,unglazed earthenware air-plant slings and gorgeous jewelry, so you’ll never have to scrape off a “Made in China” sticker before wrapping.
INDIE BOOKSTORE: Wellington Square Bookshop
Wedged in a generic shopping center, Wellington ticks off all our literary essentials: a coffee bar; squishy wingbacks; sympatico shopkeeps; used, new and rare books. (A signed first edition isn’t out of the question.) It also hosts book clubs and regular writing workshops.
NEW EYEWEAR SHOP: Eyechic of Philly II
Considering it quietly opened its doors six months ago, you’d never know this eyewear boutique was part of the Eyechic consortium that’s amassed 87K followers on Instagram — and maybe it’s better that way. With an ultra-modern interior and a curated collection of high-end lenses from the likes of Miu Miu and Linda Farrow, the shop remains surprisingly under-the-radar.
PHILLY-CENTRIC GIFTS: Philadelphia Independents
The goodies here fall into the Brotherly Love vein (hand-drawn neighborhood maps, prints featuring neighborhood-centric designs) without veering into cheesiness. Everything is made in the Philadelphia area, so you’re supporting local business when you buy that “Home Sweet Jawn” watercolor print.
PLACE TO PIMP OUT YOUR OFFICE: Open House
In the age of open floor plans and break-room foosball tables, it’s no wonder tired office supplies have undergone a massive redesign. This 13th Street gift emporium has responded accordingly, upping its office game with cheeky nameplates for desks (“Bitch, please”), brilliant pre-made to-do lists, and small, shelf-ready plant vessels crowned with cacti.
RECORD STORE: Long in the Tooth
This no-frills shop is old-school in the best sense, with tunes cranking and a music-geek staff that’s cool with you giving that obscure ’70s Mexican hard-rock album a spin. Even cooler: If you’ve got cash, you can buy tickets for concerts at Union Transfer and Boot & Saddle here with no service fees.
SECRET RESOURCE FOR KIDS GEAR: CHOP Safety Center
Baby gates. Cabinet locks. Outlet covers. And all the other gear you need to baby-proof, well, your entire life. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia sells everything at cost, which means you can pick up a car seat for $50 or a bike helmet for $10. Here’s to totally Bubble Boy-ing your tiny cherub.
SECRET WATCH STASH: Workshop Underground
You’ll find a handful of watches peppered throughout Ruben Luna’s shop, but the real cache is his collection of 300-plus hard-to-find timepieces (a rare Jaeger-LeCoultre, perhaps?) and he’s willing to part with (some of) them. After an initial consultation, Luna, a former design director for Movado, will set up a private shopping appointment at which he’ll show you his finest treasures.
SHOP FOR COFFEE TABLE BOOK: Brickbat Books
Patrick Richardson Graham stocks an eclectic collection of rare and unusual art books at his Fabric Row brick-and-mortar. Recent finds include a hardcover of Annie Leibovitz at Work signed by the famed photographer herself as well a crop of first editions — all of which deserve valuable coffee-table real estate.
STORE FOR SNAIL MAIL: Occasionette
When Sara Villari recently expanded her shop just so she could stock more paper goods, we let out a squeal, because an email will never pack the gravitas of a hand-scrawled greeting atop weighty cardstock.
TOY STORE: PucciManuli
This shop feels like the set of The Nutcracker, where items like heirloom rocking horses, model boats and life-size stuffed animals (some of which cost thousands of dollars) share space with sweet wooden puzzles, floppy teddies, and goods made by old-school crafters.
Published as “Best of Philly 2016” in the August issue of Philadelphia magazine.