What do you get when you combine a kick-ass flea market and a kick-ass craft fair? R5 Productions’ Punk Rock Flea Market. Held every summer and winter for the past five years, the event continues to draw a big crowd. The secret to its awesomeness is the mix of vendors: strangers selling their unwanted stuff, local businesses selling their goods and local artists selling their one-of-a-kind crafts. In other words, it has everything your heart could desire and then some. Vegan cupcakes? Check. Cute porcelain cats? Check. Vintage band tees? Check. Unique, handmade jewelry? Double check.
Punk Rock Flea Market, 461 N. Ninth St. r5productions.com
Clothing That Gives You Studio 54 Swag
Walking into Wilbur Vintage is like stumbling into Studio 54—or Liza Minnelli’s closet. Handpicked, glamorous vintage fills the store and seeps out onto the sidewalk with a few special discounted items hanging on a rack or piled into a box. Raved about by various Philadelphians, the store lives up to the hype. This shop puts others to shame when it comes to clothing that makes shoppers nostalgic for a time when Halston ruled the world and Bianca Jagger was still married to Mick. Don’t be surprised to find sequined jumpsuits, knee-high laced boots and accessories fit for a diva. This little Queen Village spot is a time machine for travelers looking for a little decadence.
Wilbur Vintage, 716 S. Fourth St. 215.413.5809. wilburvintage.blogspot.com
Best Thrift Store for Your Halloween Costume
Skip Columbus Boulevard’s overpriced and headache-inducing Masquerade Costume Superstore for Fleishman on Fabric Row. Their collection of dance, gymnastic (animal printed full-body leotards, anyone?) and ice-skating attire along with theatrical costumes for both children and adults make for great Halloween inspiration and better quality materials for a fraction of the price. They also sell sewing supplies if you’re feeling crafty or if you plan to DIY that Joan Holloway get-up. They encourage you to call ahead so they can sift through their enormous stock for what you’re looking for.
Fleishman Fabrics, 705 S. Fifth St. 215.925.0449. fleishmanfabrics.blogspot.com
Best Stylists Who Tell It Like It Is
Laura Angiolillo, owner and head stylist of L.A. Hair, and her team will be completely honest with you about your hair, your dumb-ass husband and your ungrateful kids. Plus, you’ll walk out with the style you didn’t know you needed. This full-service South Philly salon—ladies, gents and kids all welcome—offers affordable cuts, color, styling, nail and waxing services, massages and specialties like feather hair extensions and keritan treatments. The women here will keep you entertained with their no-nonsense opinions on politics, who’s who of South Philly and which BYO is best.
L.A. Hair, 1309 Mifflin St. 215.551.7710. lahaironline.com
Best Gay Underwear Selection
If there’s one thing most gay men can agree on it’s a love of underwear in various forms, colors, fits, fabrics and dirtiness. Most of us aren’t your Hanes and Fruit of the Loom kind of guys (and a lot of those guys are sexy as hell). We like variety and we like to accumulate massive collections of brands and styles. You’d think Daffy’s, American Apparel or Diesel might win this category. But no, Daffy’s is the bottom of the barrel in terms of size runs and color (Hibiscus? No thanks), AA’s stuff warps and deteriorates quick, and Diesel, well, is Diesel. Macy’s absolutely reigns supreme in terms of stocking the holy pillars of gay underwear: Calvin Klein and 2(x)ist.
Macy’s, 1300 Market St. 215.241.9000. macys.com
Best Spot to Discover a New Local Artist While Discovering The Artist Within
With so many major retail chains being accused of stealing and profiting from the original work of unknown artists, it’s good to know there’s places like Square Peg Artery & Salvage where you don’t have to question the authenticity of the items you’re buying. Located in Rittenhouse for the last three years, the artisan boutique currently promotes more than 300 primarily local crafters, designers and fine artists. In addition to offering a wide selection of accessories, jewelry, bath and body products, cards, home decor and glass, Square Peg holds various workshops and art shows each month, including their popular Stitch-N-Bitch and Craft-N-Cocktail nights.
Square Peg Artery & Salvage, 108 S. 20th St. 215.360.5548. squarepegartery.com
Best Vintage Shop to Get to Know the Owner
Stop into Astro Vintage in Queen Village and chat up shop owner Karin Elizabeth. From the clothes to the accessories to the attentive service, Elizabeth’s boutique is a step back in time. Ask her to look out for a particular style—an A-line midi or cat-eye glasses—and she’ll handpick items for you. Elizabeth will even do simple alterations on items you love that are in need of quick fixes. Astro also stocks a colorful array of ’60s kitchenware that’s worthy of champagne cocktails and internationally themed finger sandwiches.
Ever think to yourself: Hey, I wonder where I can have a threesome and then promptly forget about it? Well, one of our writers thinks he's found that place. Want Mexican food that doesn't burn on the way out? Of course you do. More of these questions and answers have found their way into this year's Better Than Best issue. And what's better than best, you ask? We have no idea. We just knew we couldn't use Best Of, because another publication in this town has it on lockdown. But that doesn't mean we didn't put an enormous amount of effort into bringing you the most random hidden gems Philly has to offer. Because we did. And we think we've got a pretty good list going on here.
Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014
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