Shopping doesn’t mean you have to put your values aside. Dollars can be more powerful than megaphones, fueling community economies and supporting local manufacturers.
With a little thought, your purchases can be a form of activism, supporting causes and communities you value, giving back as you shop. Philadelphia offers hundreds of alternatives to Amazon and big box stores.
In this city, “buy small, buy local” is a way of life. Here are some ideas for where to do it, now and throughout the year.
Note: This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but if you really think we should add another, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps you’ve read about excessive textile waste, overconsumption, and abusive labor practices in the fast fashion industry. Fortunately, Philadelphia is a green fashion hub, offering ethical and eco-friendly alternatives.
700 S. 6th Street
Nicole and Jordan Haddad present their “slow fashion” clothing line as zero waste. They use organic cotton and unused printing inks and materials, wasting nothing – even shredding their leftover fabric into stuffing for the pillows. Here you will find ethically produced clothing, accessories, ceramics and household items.
3605 Lancaster Ave.
This sustainable Black women-owned boutique sells small-batch lines and one-of-a-kind garments sewn from upcycled second-hand clothes and upcycled fabrics. Founder Kimberly McGlonn and her design team are also activists, selling shirts with messages such as “End cash bail” and sharing their profits with organizations like Books Through Bars. (Note: this is also a B Corp, see below.)
This Philadelphia-based sustainable fashion marketplace collects 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 cause: black-owned brands, women-owned brands, vegan, gender-neutral or second-hand.
Greene Street Consignment
700 South Street.
21 Snyder Ave.
8524 Germantown Ave.
The original green fashion is savings, an essential part of the circular economy. Founded in 1997 on the Main Line, this consignment shop has grown in the area and now operates three locations in Philadelphia. Store curators take some of the work out of the hunt, sorting through the best options to hang on their shelves.
What does this 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 greater good. In the era of greenwashing, branding shows that a company has undergoes a rigorous process to audit its environmental and labor practices, governance and community engagement. Bonus fact: this global movement was actually born in suburban Philadelphia.
united by blue
205 race street
3421 Walnut St.
If you’re shopping for outerwear, travel kits, or bohemian homewares and decor, this is the place. For every product purchased, the company removes one pound of waste from the oceans and waterways. Every local store is also a cafe, so it’s easy to browse with a coffee as you browse, or you can buy gifts like the Greta Thunberg ornament online.
Triple bottom brewing
915 Spring Garden Street
Named after its triple bottom line – people, planet 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 stop in for a drink and a snack, as well as buy craft beers and take-out items.
Sustainability is at the heart of the Salm Brothers’ Philadelphia-based home interior design company, offering “furniture for the creative.” These include tiles, dividers, furniture and accessories that are versatile, made in the USA, flat-packed, recyclable and playful. Think a rocking bench, a “mushroom lamp” or colorful felt bowls made by one of the last operating hat shops in the United States.
Where you buy your books is important. In addition to giving you another way to support small businesses, a local bookstore is a gateway into a community. Shopping this way allows you to meet new people and ideas and make spontaneous discoveries that no algorithm could replicate.
Uncle Bobbie’s coffee and books
5445 Germantown Ave.
“Cool people. Drug books. Great coffee. It’s an apt slogan for Marc Lamont Hill’s Germantown cafe and bookstore, which serves his neighborhood as a hangout and hub of ideas. This owned bookstore à des Noirs hosts readings by authors and community events, all in a welcoming setting.
Julia de Burgos bookstore
2600 N. 5th St.
Taller Puertorriqueño’s bookstore, the Puerto Rican community center in Kensington, sells books in English and Spanish by Latino authors, focusing on cultural heritage, history and social justice. The center also hosts author events, educational programs, and local art exhibits.
258, avenue E. Girard
Jeannine Cook’s Fishtown bookstore is named after Harriet Tubman, and its shelves focus on women authors, artists and activists. You can also find activist T-shirts and gear with compelling messages, like one that lists black women poets (“Sonia, Ursula, Yolanda, Trapeta”), the “Run me my repairs” running shoe, or a sweatshirt. which simply states “Well read Jawn.”
2202 Fairmount Avenue
Used books are the ultimate eco-friendly option, especially when you can buy them from a thriving small independent business. Book Haven is one of the best, cozy and well organized store in the heart of Fairmount that has everything you need.
Philadelphia Proud Makers
When you show your Philadelphia pride, is it easy to keep your money local and support small businesses and makers? There are many alternatives to mass-produced memorabilia and nationally licensed sportswear.
107 S. 13th. St.
In the part of Gayborhood known as Midtown Village — which this shop’s owners, Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, helped turn into a bustling place — this shop offers a collection of savvy Philly homewares and products, including 215 throw pillows, neighborhood key rings, fun glassware, baby gear, street attire, localized note cards and more.
35 N. 3rd Street.
This cute shop in the Old Town showcases the work of local artisans and makers, with eye-catching jewelry, ceramics and prints, and plenty of hometown pride. Look for Philly manhole cover coasters, “Jawnaments” and other locally inspired and created products.
Illustrator and textile designer Ana Thorne crafts pillows, baby blankets and tea towels from intricate hand-drawn patterns. What’s in the drawings? Think woodland ice cream, pretzels, Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall and sports icons. Look for ornaments, keychains, stickers, and purses in the town’s popups or on its website.
You’ve probably seen his hand-drawn designs – his skyline-adorned Phanatic and vice-weary Gritty become iconic. Illustrator Paul Carpenter sells Philly-centric clothing, posters and pint glasses in pop-ups and on his website, where you can also download coloring pages when you donate to Philabundance.
Fair Trade certification means that farmers, artisans and other producers receive a living wage for their work. It tries to help correct a long history of labor exploitation, especially in the production of items like chocolate and coffee in the Global South.
1315 Walnut St.
8331 Germantown Ave.
With stores in Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, this outfit is one of the pioneers of the fair trade craft movement. Its maker-to-market model brings homewares and accessories from around the world to its colorful boutiques. You can buy the beautiful jewelry, tableware, pottery, candles and decoration with a clear conscience.
Philly Fair Trade Coffee Roasters
You have plenty of options for fair trade java, but this is a go-to option for ethical, organic, and small-batch coffee. It is roasted in North Philly and sold in markets and cafes around the city. The founders of the company compost and recycle and work towards a zero waste operation. The website offers coffee subscriptions, flights and gift boxes, or single-origin coffee by the pound.
Path of the weavers
559 Carpenters Alley
8424 Germantown Ave.
One of the oldest food co-ops in the country, Weavers Way sells a solid selection of fair trade food products at each location – think coffee, chocolate, bananas – as well as a small collection of crafts and items for the bath and body in the wellness sections of the boutique.