Philadelphia's Antique Row
Antique Row is a great area to shop for collectibles and one-of-a-kind items in Center City Philadelphia. Located on Pine Street, between 9th & 11th streets, many vendors cater to the most discriminating collectors by offering high-quality antiques & vintage pieces, while others specialize in handmade crafts, toys and even kitsch (I mean this in a good way) for the every day. There is a bit of everything to suit various tastes and it's a place I've been shopping at for a number of years. If you like hard-to-find pieces of Americana, such as blown glass, silverware, Federal furniture, rugs or china, they can be found down this street; one vendor in particular stands out. What I love about the area is that everything is approachable and the sellers are knowledgeable, friendly and willing to offer great advice.
It is here that I first became 'bitten' by the collecting bug. It was back in 2000 when I began frequenting the area and stopped by a small store called Blendo. I walked in because the vendor had many of her wares out on the front sidewalk and I wanted to see what other items she had to offer. Toward the back of the store I found some wonderful jadeite and a few other pieces of Pyrex. I fell in love with a set of collectible 'primary color' bowls, but at the time I remember I couldn't afford them. Much later when I returned ready to buy the set, they were gone! Just like that. It was to be the first of many lessons in my antique shopping experiences. At the other end of the block was another store that I quickly fell in love with called Provenance. This is where I found those 7 cream-colored English custard cups for my Martha by Mail Spice Rack many years ago. I remember thinking how perfect they were going to look on the 7 shelves of my spice rack, so I quickly purchased them without a moment to lose. Some of my yellowware bowls have also been bought at that store, along with many other cherished items. I'm happy to report that both Blendo & Provenance still exist, although the latter has moved a few doors down and has downscaled its offerings.
Take a quick stroll with me down Pine Street.
Signs clearly mark and guide the shopper to different areas of significance. What I've come to discover is that Philadelphia has really made an effort to encourage more walking and bike riding in the city over the last few years. Entire lanes are now dedicated to bicyclists. To me, that's a very good thing indeed.
M. Finkel & Daughter is one of the places where one can find high-quality antiques. It is located on the corner of 10th & Pine and has been in business since 1947. Although 18th and 19th century American furniture can be located here (they love displaying pieces on their windows), this store is best known for their fine collection of samplers and needlework. Amy Finkel, business owner and consultant, is on hand to offer her clients the best of the best. This store is always listed in all of the antique magazines as a source.
Classic Antiques specializes in French & English antique furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries. They mostly sell to the trade, but it's worth perusing what they have to offer.
Chelsea Plating Company is really a treasure to have nearby. This store specializes in restoring all types of metal: from silver & copper, to gold & pewter. They also repair glass, ceramic, porcelain and papier mache pieces whether they are antique or new. If you have pieces of silverware that are beginning to show 'elbows' or if you want to have your entire service polished and restored, they can do it. Antique or contemporary copper pots with tin lining can also be retinned & polished. As one who has a good amount of silver and copper, it's good to have a source which offers such services.
I recently walked in to price replating a few of my pieces and they happened to mention that it's cheaper to resilver by the dozen, if you're talking about silverware. Take your pieces and have them assessed. If you're unsure as to whether or not you have silverplate or sterling silver, their experts will tell you. Sometimes certain items don't need to be replated; a simple polishing can bring them back to life.
This is Blendo. One of my favorite stores on Pine Street. As I said, I've been coming to them for years because they have a little bit of everything and their items are reasonably priced. I've found unique pieces to give as gifts to people and everyone always want to know where they were purchased. Blendo, that's where!
This is the inside of the store packed to the gills. Tongue-in-cheek cards for any celebratory event can be found here. Vintage linens, glassware and kitchenwares are scattered throughout the store, so you really have to keep your eyes opened for these treasures.
It has been said of Blendo that, "You can walk out of Blendo spending one dollar or one thousand dollars and feel good about it."
Vintage hats, lamps and jewelry are just some of the many eclectic wares that make shopping here fun. Although the owner has reduced the amount of antique china and larger pieces of furniture that used to engulf the store, one can still find some nice pieces.
One of my biggest regrets in not having purchased something happened here at Blendo. I already mentioned those pyrex bowls (these can be found in many shops), but what I didn't tell you was that I once let an entire Limoges dinner service go from this very store. The porcelain had green rims in one of my favorite hues, along with beautiful gilded, scalloped edges and they were in perfect condition; a few platters and some vegetable tureens were included. I waited about 2-3 weeks to return ready to buy them, but guess what? They were gone. The owner told me that a few days after I had walked in, someone had purchased them. Why did I not leave a retainer? How could I have been so foolish? I can still see that set in my mind and wish I had it. Sigh... Live and learn.
This cute toy store, Happily Ever After, is frequented by people in the area. You can see the Sesame Street characters in the window, along with board games and other such popular toys. If you have kids or nieces and nephews, stop by and take a look.
Ionian is also a great place for pieces of furniture and accessories. They aren't always opened, so make sure to give them a call ahead of time.
Provenance was unfortunately closed when I last visited, so I wasn't able to capture it for you. Whenever they're opened I make it a point to walk in and survey what they currently have. I've always been pleased with the quality of antiques at this shop, because the owner has really good taste. The window display above shows a small sampling of their flow blue china.
This window shows McCoy pottery, some yellowware and vintage jewelry. Do make it a point to stop by this store if you're in the area.
For more information about the area, store hours & phone numbers, click on the link Antique Row and figure out when to best shop there. If I haven't said so, there are plenty of wonderful restaurants to have a good meal or several cafes if you're in the mood for a little pick me up cappuccino in the afternoon. Visit Philadelphia soon and enjoy shopping this historic district!