Coolest New Kid on the Block
Usually, any major change to a beloved institution like the Philadelphia AIDS Thrift would be followed by the inevitable complaints. However, this switch—a move from its previous original location on Bainbridge Street to a new home on Fifth Street—is much welcomed. The AIDS Thrift has been able to expand, filling its two-story nest with better-organized rooms of glorious treasure (aka one man’s trash). They just celebrated raising $300,000 in cash donations for local AIDS charities, making AIDS Thrift the best rebel with a cause—and the place you’re most likely to score some seriously interesting finds.
Philadelphia AIDS Thrift, 710 S. Fifth St. 215.922.3186. phillyaidsthrift.com
Best Place to Feel like You’ve Stepped into an Episode from the Second Season of Mad Men
Imagine you’re Don Draper, and you’ve come home from a hard day of skirt chasing, drinking dry martinis and Old Fashioneds, and becoming the best ad man in Manhattan. What kind of sofa do you want to sit on? Or perhaps, what kind of sofa will Betty buy to impress your neighbors? Minima Furniture and Showroom owner Eugenie Perret excels in this type of slim, slick, mid-century retro-future modernism that makes every room look incredibly timeless yet contemporary. Find chairs by mid-century icons Charles and Ray Eames, or lighting by contemporary (but retro-inspired) designer Tom Dixon, and contemporary works by local artists across Philadelphia. Design like this comes at a premium, but would Mr. Draper have it any other way?
Minima Furniture and Showroom, 118 N. Third St. 215.922.2002. minima.us
Best Shop to Buy Hipster Heritage Brands That Are Overpriced But You Can’t Live Without
A few years ago, American Heritage brands came back into vogue with a vengeance, with every name in American design and work-wear coming back to stake its claim on the landscape of hipness. Of course, being on the landscape of hipness means brands that were once priced for the working middle class experienced some serious inflation. But the level of craft involved may be worth it. Head to Sugarcube to experience the best of the best in these old names and the brands they inspire: the beautiful prints (and mind-blowing warmth) of Pendleton blankets; the canvas wallets by Dunderdon that withstand an almost cruel level of abuse by the human hand and the elements; and vintage Levi’s that put all other names in denim to shame. Trendy without being a slave to fashion’s changing winds, Sugarcube fills a void of classic, hearty American style. It helps that they always have incredible markdowns as well—for those of us who are still in that working class.
Sugarcube, 124 N. Third St. 215.238.0825. sugarcube.us
Best Place for Fun, Childlike Decor at Obscenely Adult Prices
When international design star Jonathan Adler opened up his store in Old City last December, he brought a fantastic sense of wonder and design whimsy with him, adding a little fun and color to the sometimes monochromatic design landscape of Philadelphia home stores. If you want to channel the best memories from the imaginative days of nursery school, check out his elephant clocks, dachshund bookends and animal-themed porcelain piggy banks that top out at $128. If you want your animal memorabilia a bit more adult, check out the brass animal sculptures that come in at about $400. They aren’t cheap, but until time travel is invented, they’re a great alternative for channeling those carefree days.
Jonathan Adler, 33 N. Third St. 215.574.1999. jonathanadler.com
Best Shop to Transport You Straight to the Paris Runway (without the Jet Lag or Snooty Attendants)
Every fashionista knows that Philadelphia isnt the center of the fashion universe—Paris, the City of Lights, is. But step into Adresse, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the closet of the chicest woman on the Rue Saint-Honorè. Carrying esteemed French labels each season such as Lanvin, Stella McCartney, Martin Grant and the oh-so-French Nina Ricci, the store feels like a comfortable getaway to your French sister’s closet (without the $1,000 ticket). With its eclectic, soft decor and the smell of flowers in the air, a trip here is not to be missed. You can also catch some serious deals on serious labels on their sale rack. Ladies, lay down the plastic and put that je ne sais quoi in your closet immediately.
Adresse, 1706 Locust St. 215.985.3161. adressephiladelphia.com
Best New Homegrown Clothing Line
Positive energy and forward progress. That’s the mantra of Proper Living, Philly’s newest clothing line to hit the streets. Philly’s own DJ Get ’Em Kid and Drew Poz go hard with the fashion brand, and have thrown their gear into the pantheon of Philly designers such as Miskeen and Meek Mill’s new Dream Chasers line. Designing tees promoting ‘Rebels With A Cause’ and the notion of ‘Greed is the Death of Happiness’ among other powerful statements, Proper Living is sure to have something to tickle that fancy. Look out for ’em around the tri-state area.
Proper Living, twitter.com/Proper_Living
Best Place to Get Awesome, Handmade and Second-Hand Stuff for Dirt Cheap
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.
PW's Holiday Guide 2014