Shopping doesn’t mean you have to keep your values in a drawer. Dollars can be more powerful than curves, fueling community economies and supporting local producers.
With a little thought, your purchases can be a form of activism, supporting the causes and communities you value by giving back as you shop. Philadelphia offers hundreds of alternatives to Amazon and department stores.
In this city, “shop small, shop local” is a way of life. Here are some ideas on where to do it, now and all year long.
Note: This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but if there is another you really think we should add, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps you’ve read about excess textile waste, consumption and exploitative labor practices in the fast fashion industry. Fortunately, Philadelphia is a hotbed of green fashion, offering ethical and eco-friendly alternatives.
The tall wolf
700 S. 6th St.
Nicole and Jordan Haddad tout their “slow fashion” clothing line as zero-waste. They use organic cotton and printing inks and waste materials, wasting nothing – even shredding their leftovers into pillow stuffing. You’ll find ethically made clothing, accessories, ceramics and homewares.
3605 Lancaster Ave.
This sustainable, women-owned, black-owned boutique sells small lines and unique clothing made from used clothing and recycled fabrics. Founder Kimberly McGlonn and her design team are also activists, selling shirts with messages like “Fund cash bail” and sharing their profits with organizations like Books Through Bars. (Note: This is also a B Corp, see below.)
This Philly-based sustainable fashion marketplace gathers responsibly produced clothing and accessories on its website and works with designers to help users find their look. Customers can shop by value and filter by cause: black-owned brands, women-owned brands, vegan, gender-inclusive or thrift.
Greene Street Charge
700 South St.
21 Snyder Ave.
8524 Germantown Ave.
Original green fashion is frugal, an essential part of the circular economy. Founded in 1997 on the Main Line, this consignment store has expanded regionally and now operates three locations in Philadelphia. Store curators take some of the work out of the hunt, selecting the best options to hang on their shelves.
What does the B logo mean on flour or coffee? It’s short for “for-profit” and means that the company behind the product has proven that it exists to serve the common good. In an age of greenwashing, the sign shows that a company has underwent a rigorous process to verify environmental and labor practices, governance and community engagement. Bonus fact: This global movement was actually born in the suburbs of Philly.
United by Blue
205 Race St.
3421 Walnut St.
Whether you’re shopping for outdoor gear, travel packages or boho homewares and decor, this is the place to be. For every product purchase, the company removes one kilogram of waste from oceans and waterways. Every local shop is also a cafe, so it’s easy to browse with a coffee while you read, or you can find gifts like Greta Thunberg jewelry online.
Triple finish drinking
915 Spring Garden St.
Named for 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 equitable practices, Triple Bottom is a second-chance employer, hiring people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration. You can stop in for a drink and snack, but you can also get craft drinks and goods to go.
MIO Home Furnishings
Sustainability is at the heart of the Salm brothers’ Philly-based home interior design company, offering “furnishings for makers.” These include tiles, dividers, furniture and accessories that are versatile, made in the USA, flat packed, recyclable and playful. Think a saw bench, a ‘kerchief lamp’ or colored felt bowls made by one of America’s last working millenarians
Where you buy your books matters. In addition to giving you another way to support small business, a local bookstore is a gateway to 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 & Books
5445 Germantown Ave.
“Nice people. Dope books. Great coffee.” It’s a fitting label for Marc Lamont Hill’s Germantown Cafe and Book Center, which serves its neighborhood as a meeting place and hub of ideas. This black-owned bookstore hosts author readings and community events, all in a cozy setting.
Julia de Burgos bookstore
2600 N. 5th St.
The bookstore at Taller Puertorriqueño, the Puerto Rican community center in Kensington, sells books in English and Spanish by Latino authors with a focus on cultural heritage, history and social justice. The center also hosts author events, educational programs and local art exhibits.
258 E. Girard Ave.
Jeannine Cook’s Fishtown Bookstore is named for Harriet Tubman, and its shelves focus on women authors, artists and activists. You can also find t-shirts and activist gear with compelling messages, like one that lists black poets (“Sonia, Ursula, Yolanda, Trapeta”), “Run me reparations my” running shoes, or a sweatshirt that simply declares “Well Read Jawn. “
The Haven book
2202 Fairmount Ave.
Used books are the best eco option, especially when you can buy them from a thriving independent small business. Book Haven is one of the best, a cozy and well-organized store in the heart of Fairmount that has everything you need.
Proud Philly Makers
When showing your Philly pride, is it easy to keep your money local and support small businesses and producers? There are many alternatives to mass-produced souvenirs and nationally licensed sportswear.
The open house
107 S. 13. St.
In the part of the Gayborhood known as Midtown Village—which this store’s owners, Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, helped make into a buzzing spot—this boutique offers a collection of Philly homewares and artisan goods, including 215 throw pillows, neighborhood key tags. funny glassware, baby gear, city wear, localized note cards and a ton more.
35 N. 3rd St.
This cute Old Town boutique features the work of local artisans and makers, with eye-catching jewelry, ceramics and prints, and plenty of hometown pride. Look for Philly coasters, Jawnaments, and other country-inspired and crafted merchandise.
Illustrator and textile designer Ana Thorne creates cushions, baby blankets and tea towels from intricate hand-drawn patterns. What’s in the designs? Think wood ice, pretzels, Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall and sports icons. Look for ornaments, key chains, stickers and bags at pop-ups around town or on her website.
You’ve probably seen his hand-drawn designs – his skyline-adorned Phanatic and tired Gritty are becoming iconic. Illustrator Paul Carpenter sells Philly-themed apparel, posters and pin glasses at pop-ups and on his website, where you can also download coloring pages when you make a donation to Philabundance.
Fair Trade certification means that farmers, artisans and other producers are paid a living wage for their work. It seeks to help redress a long history of labor exploitation, particularly in the production of items such as chocolate and coffee in the global south.
1315 St. Walnut
8331 Germantown Ave.
With stores in Philly and the 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 stores. You can shop for gorgeous jewelry, tableware, ceramics, candles and decor with a clear conscience.
Philly Fair Trade Roasters
You have a lot of options for Fair Trade coffee, but this is a great option for ethical, organic, small-batch coffee. It’s brewed in North Philly and sold at markets and cafes around the city. The company’s founders compost and recycle and are working toward zero-waste operations. The website offers coffee subscriptions, flights and gift packs or single origin coffee by the pound.
559 Carpenter Lane
8424 Germantown Ave.
One of the country’s oldest food co-ops, Weavers Way sells a solid selection of Fair Trade food products outside each location – think coffee, chocolate, bananas – plus a small collection of crafts and bath and body items in sections of welfare stores.