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Archive | Retail

What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Next on the Avenue moves, store already leased

Men’s clothing store Next on the Avenue has closed up shop at 1815 E. Passyunk Ave. and moved into Today’s Styles across the street.

Out with the old…

Sal Maugeri at Today’s Styles said Next’s owner Joel Bartolomeo is still involved and will still buy all the inventory for his portion of the store.

Meanwhile, the leasing agent for the old location, Anthony Criniti, said a woman was coming in today to sign a lease to open a housewares store.

We’re waiting for a call from her to give us more details, and we’ll let you know when we get them.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

5 Questions: Pattern + Motion

Eric Botel-Barnard and Diana Barnard are the husband and wife duo who own Pattern and Motion design studio, which opened in the old Sweet Jane space at 1820 E. Passyunk. We sat down with them recently to see what prompted the move south from Center City, what they plan to do with their storefront and why they never leave the neighborhood.

Passyunk Post: What brings you to the hood, and why did you pick a storefront?
Eric Botel-Barnard:
For the last couple years our office was around 15th and Spruce and we really were expanding over the two-year period and needed more space, so we were looking for a while. We also love the idea of improving our day by working closer to where we live [near 11th and Mifflin]. … We really liked the idea of being on the ground floor and being able to interface with people to some degree even though we’re not a store that’s open to the public, but we wanted a presence. Also, the ground floor is easy for access as far as gear storage. We had really looked extensively in South Philly for an office space, and really, South Philly is not filled with second floor office space.

Diana Barnard: Or really any office space.
EBB: So that’s really the main issue, there just weren’t a lot of clean, high-tech, renovated office spaces that would be good for what we’re doing. … We’ve lived down here for about five years and the first three years, I was working out of the house, having clients come to the house, and we have a dog – the dog’s barking
DB: It very quickly became unsustainable.
EBB: So we moved out, went to our Center City office, thought the location would be a good thing for business and it turned out that a lot of the professionals that we work with actually live in this neighborhood.
DB:The greatest thing is just by being here the last few days, taking down the paper, people have just been stopping by. People we know, people we don’t know are just sort of been like, “What’s going on in there?” And we’ve gotten the chance to know the neighborhood a little better, which is also nice. … Although we had some apprehension about having storefront, like security issues, we see a huge advantage in that now, whereas before maybe we were a little tentative.

Eric and Diana. Say hi.

PP: What about working with Sam Sherman at PARC [which owns the building]?
EBB: Meeting Sam was fantastic. He was all for it. To his credit, he has a vision for a vibrant daytime community here. And I think that really struck a chord with us. I’ve traveled pretty extensively for work and I’ve seen main streets in different cities and there’s usually a good mix of storefront offices. You have architects, you have art galleries, and then you have your nighttime stuff. That mix seems like a really good mix, and I think that’s something that’s been missing down here.
DB: For a long time I lived on 9th and Reed and I never traveled south, or even made it over to the Avenue until we moved down here.
EBB: Now, we would rather not leave the neighborhood. We still get out, but on a day to day basis it’s really nice, and that’s part of the allure of working close to home.
DB: That was another problem with the Center City office, finding parking and basic day to day stuff just got really annoying.
EBB: Also, we’re both workaholics, so when we’re busy, it’s not unusual to be here past 10 o’clock at night, so to not have to go far is really nice.

PP: What are you going to be doing with the storefront windows?
Sam immediately thought we should put some video screens in the windows. I think we’re still trying to figure out an interesting way to make a daytime and an evening attractive-looking window. I’m not sure exactly. We’re figuring that out now. We’re definitely going to be dressing the windows.
DB: We’re just concerned that the monitor thing during the day isn’t going to read very well.
EBB: It could just looked washed out. Our style may be a little more subtle. But, we are going to do something really nice, and hopefully have something that looks fresher that we can change out. We’ve been throwing out ideas and we’re tackling that right now.
PP: What kind of ideas?
EBB: People have suggested some, including possibly a gallery space in this one window. We were thinking if that would be feasible given the kind of business that were are. Had an idea for more workspace, possibly even seasonal – well, not exactly seasonal…
PP: Like your Easter display… Flag day?
(laughing): More like a high-end conceptual department store window
DB: And just swap it out
EBB: Yeah, a few times a year. We wanted to get going and see what makes sense rather than do it in a vacuum

Remember when Sweet Jane used to be here?

PP: What about the work you actually do, other than display window design?
We do video production and we do design work – everything from print work to branding to web, so we’re integrating video services and web-video production with the design work so that we’re a full-service design agency now.
DB: We feel like “creative agency” best encompasses what we are. We’re not an ad agency but that’s the best explanation for describing our holistic approach.
PP: What sort of clients? You wanna name drop?
EBB: Albert Einstein Health Care, the Clay Studio, the Rock School for Dance Education, Astral Artists. Good mix right now of arts organizations and corporations. Popular Science Magazine, who else?
DB: That’s a good list. It’s a healthy sampling.

One of those “for the hell of it” pictures
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Design firm opens in old Sweet Jane space

The paper has come off the windows and husband and wife team Eric Botel-Barnard and Diana Barnard are now working full time in the PARC-owned storefront at 1820 E. Passyunk Ave.

See the teeny, tiny sign?
Their design and video-production firm Pattern + Motion, which we told you about early last month, was previously located on Walnut Street in Center City. The neighborhood residents gave that up, though, in exchange for an easy commute (three whole blocks, now).

We’ve already sat down with the design duo, and later this week, we’ll tell you a little more about them and their plans for their display windows. Sam Sherman at PARC said they were planning to install video screens to enliven the streetscape, but that idea is still evolving.

Meanwhile, it’s been a busy week for the office market around East Passyunk, with the news that a lawyer also pulled up stakes from Center City for an office on the avenue, South Philly’s first coworking space opened and the King of Jeans developer added office space to his plans.

Diversifying the retail mix on the avenue has been one of PARC’s goals, for at least two reasons: Passyunk needs street life during the day, too, and no one wants another South Street of all bars and restaurants. Stay tuned for even more office-related action to come.

What do you think about storefront office space? Yay or nay?

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Old Allstate office isn’t vacant after all – plus, storefront artwork

You might have been wondering, as we were, what the holdup was at the old Allstate office at 1716 E. Passyunk Ave. Even though progress appeared to have stalled from the outside, a team of workers was busy toiling away making it all pretty inside.

Lawyer and South Philly resident Robert Brand bought the building in December 2010 for $280,000. In the meantime, he renovated the place and gave up his Center City office. If you happen to need legal help, check him out here. As his website says, he represents “The Brand name in personal injury law.” Get it?

This ugly facade will be taken care of soon

As you can see, the storefront windows aren’t too stimulating at this point, but Brand has a plan for that. When we surprised him by popping in yesterday, he said he plans to enliven the display windows with a little bit of self-promotion and plenty of art installations. He said he knows lots of artists.

Good idea keeping that tin ceiling
Say hi, Robert! Sorry for the bad picture quality

The desire to walk to work rather than commute to Center City was also a factor with the recent news that video production firm Pattern and Motion would open their office in PARC-owned 1820 E. Passyunk Ave, where Sweet Jane vintage used to be. In fact, we’ll have more next week on how East Passyunk is becoming more of an employment node. That’s great news, considering a recent Center City District study that found a relative dearth of jobs outside Center City and University City.

Google street view from 2009
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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Era Atomica gets into vintage clothing biz

Now that Sweet Jane has closed, and making way for video-editing firm Pattern and Motion, there’s a vintage clothing hole on this end of the Avenue. Yeah, 1600 Below is there, but that’s a whole two blocks away.

Photo from Era Atomica’s Facebook page

Well, apparently Era Atomica has decided to fill this hole, offering a small selection of 60s and 70s era clothing along with their period coffee tables, console stereos, and that $800 Mork and Mindy egg chair with built-in speakers that we’ve always wanted.

They gave a shoutout to Sweet Jane on their Facebook page last week, though.

We miss Sweet Jane! And their windows! We know you do too, so we did up our small window to show that we have some cute, affordable vintage clothing and accessories for sale inside. 🙂

Check out the selection and report back.

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing 

Ugly Furniture! Hysterical video about Interior Concepts

As window displays go, the lucite nightmare at Interior Concepts furniture store at EPA and Morris takes the cake. Ceramic sax players, crystaline coffee tables, purple metal dining sets that would be at home on the set of Beetlejuice — you name it, they got it when it comes to awful furniture.

Actually, though, the store has a lot of great stuff inside, deep in the back, away from the prying eyes of passersby. Full disclosure: The world headquarters of the Passyunk Post has a very nice sectional couch from IC.
Incidentally, the building had a for sale sign but it was taken down and no sale has been recorded with the city, which says it was last sold in 1996. And we couldn’t find a real-estate listing anywhere.
But really, this post was an excuse to put that video out there.
Deep inside, good taste hides
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