Going shopping doesn’t mean you have to ditch your valuables. Dollars can be more powerful than bullhorns, stimulating the community economy and supporting local producers.
With a little thought, your purchases can be a form of activism, supporting the causes and communities you value, and giving back when you buy. Philadelphia offers hundreds of alternatives to Amazon and the big box stores.
In this city, “shop small, shop local” is a way of life. Here are some ideas for where you can do it, now and throughout the year.
Note: This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but if there is another you really think we should add, please let us know: email@example.com.
Perhaps you’ve read about excessive textile waste, overconsumption and exploitative labor practices in the fast fashion industry. Fortunately, Philadelphia is a hub for green fashion, offering ethical, organic options.
700 S. 6th St.
Nicole and Jordan Haddad tout their “slow fashion” clothing line as zero waste. They use organic cotton and printing inks and deadstock materials, and waste nothing – even shredding leftover fabric scraps into pillow stuffing. You will find clothes, accessories, ceramics and ethically made household items.
3605 Lancaster Ave.
This black-owned, women-owned sustainable boutique sells small-batch and one-of-a-kind pieces made from upcycled thrift clothing and recycled fabrics. Founder Kimberly McGlonn and her design team are also activists, selling shirts with messages like “End cash bail” and sharing profits with organizations like Books Through Bars. (Note: This is also a B Corp, see below.)
This Philly-based sustainable fashion marketplace brings together responsibly made clothing and accessories on its website and works with stylists to help users find their look. Customers can shop by values and filter by reason: black-owned brands, women-owned brands, vegan, gender-inclusive or pre-owned.
Greene Street Consignment
700 South St.
21 Snyder Ave.
8524 Germantown Ave.
The original green fashion is thrifty, an essential part of the circular economy. Founded in 1997 on the Main Line, this consignment store has expanded throughout the region and now operates three locations in Philadelphia. Store curators take some of the labor out of the hunt, sorting out the best options to hang on their racks.
What does that B logo on your flour or coffee mean? It’s short for “benefit,” and it means that the company behind the product has proven that it exists to serve the community. In an age of greenwashing, the brand shows what a company has undergone a rigorous process to verify environmental and labor practices, governance and community involvement. Bonus fact: This global movement was actually born in the Philly suburbs.
United by Blue
205 Race St.
3421 Walnut St.
If you are looking for outdoor clothing, travel packages or boho goods and decor, this is the place. For every product purchase, the company removes one kilogram of rubbish from seas and waterways. Each local store is also a cafe, so it’s easy to browse with a coffee while you read, or you can buy gifts like the Greta Thunberg ornament online.
Triple bottom brewing
915 Spring Garden St.
Named for its triple bottom line – people, planets and beer – this brewery is making an impact in the Spring Arts District and beyond. Powered by renewable energy and committed to fair practices, Triple Bottom is a second-chance employer, hiring people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration. You can pop in for a drink and a bite to eat, but also pick up craft brews and merch to go.
MIO Home furnishings
Sustainability is at the heart of the Salm brothers’ Philly-based interior design firm, which offers “furniture for creatives.” These include tiles, partitions, furniture and accessories that are versatile, made in the USA, flat packed, recyclable and playful. Consider a rocking bench, a “shroom lamp” or colorful felt bowls made by one of the last working mills in the US
Where you buy your books matters. Aside from giving you another way to support small businesses, a local bookstore is a gateway to a community. Shopping this way allows you to meet new people and ideas and make spontaneous discoveries that no algorithm can replicate.
Uncle Bobbie’s coffee and books
5445 Germantown Ave.
“Cool people. Dope books. Good coffee.” It’s a fitting tagline for Marc Lamont Hill’s Germantown cafe and book emporium, which serves the neighborhood as a meeting place and hub of ideas. This black-owned bookstore hosts author readings and community events, all in a cozy setting.
Julia de Burgos bookstore
2600 N. 5th St.
The bookstore at Taller Puertorriqueño, the Puerto Rican community center in Kensington, sells books in English and Spanish by Latino authors, focusing on heritage, history and social justice. The center also hosts author events, educational programs and local art exhibitions.
258 E. Girard Ave.
Jeannine Cook’s Fishtown bookstore is named after Harriet Tubman, and the shelves focus on women writers, artists and activists. You can also find activist T-shirts and gear with compelling messages, like the one featuring black female poets (“Sonia, Ursula, Yolanda, Trapeta”), the “Run me my reparations” running shoe, or a sweatshirt that simply declares “Well read Yaw.”
2202 Fairmount Ave.
Used books are the ultimate eco option, especially when you can buy them from a thriving independent small business. Book Haven is one of the best, a cozy and well organized store in the heart of Fairmount that has everything you need.
When showing your Philly pride, is it easy to keep your money local and support small businesses and producers? There are many alternatives to mass-produced souvenirs and nationally licensed sportswear.
107 S. 13. St.
In the part of the Gayborhood known as Midtown Village—which this store’s owners, Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, helped transform into a lively place—this store offers a collection of homewares and Philly arts and crafts, including 215 pillows, neighborhood keys , fun glassware, baby gear, urban wear, localized note cards and much more.
35 N. 3rd St.
This cute Old City shop features works by local artisans and makers, with attractive jewelry, ceramics and prints, and plenty of hometown pride. Look for Philly manhole covers and coasters, “Jawnaments” and other locally inspired and created goods.
Illustrator and textile designer Ana Thorne creates cushions, baby blankets and kitchen towels from intricate hand-drawn patterns. What’s in the designs? Think treis, pretzels, Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall and sports icons. Look for ornaments, key chains, stickers and bags at pop-ups around town or on her website.
You’ve probably seen his hand-drawn designs – his skyline-covered Phanatic and the vise-weary Gritty becoming iconic. Illustrator Paul Carpenter sells Philly-centric apparel, posters and pint glasses at pop-ups and on his website, where you can also download coloring pages when you make a donation to Philabundance.
The Fair Trade certification means that farmers, craftsmen and other producers receive a living wage for their work. It seeks to help correct a long history of labor exploitation, particularly in the production of goods such as chocolate and coffee in the Global South.
1315 Walnut St.
8331 Germantown Ave.
With stores in Philly and the surrounding suburbs, this outfit is one of the pioneers of the Fair Trade artisan movement. Its maker-to-market model brings household goods and accessories from around the world to its colorful stores. You can buy the beautiful jewellery, crockery, ceramics, candles and decor with a clear conscience.
Philly Fair Trade Roasters
You have many options for Fair Trade java, but this is a go-to option for ethical, organic, small-batch coffee. It’s roasted in North Philly and sold at markets and cafes around the city. The company’s founders compost and recycle and work towards zero-waste operations. The site offers coffee subscriptions, flights and gift packages, or single-origin coffee per pound.
559 Carpenter Lane
8424 Germantown Ave.
One of the country’s oldest food companies, Weavers Way sells a solid selection of Fair Trade foods from every location – think coffee, chocolate, bananas – plus a small collection of crafts and bath and body products in the wellness sections.