Strawbridge and Clothier….A Flea Market?

19 Nov
Another sign of the times, the Strawbridge building will play host to the Franklin Flea Market, a name that I’m sure would cause old Ben to take pause.
On every Saturday until Christmas multiple vendors will set up on the ground floor of S&C’s beautiful building at 8th and Market to hawk their wares. This is distressing to me in so many ways I don’t know where to begin. Firstly the idea of housing a rough and tumble collection of card table retailers on the main floor drives home how much the retail scene has deteriorated over the last decade. Where did it all go? For those of us who remember the elegant S&C its just plain sad. I suppose its better than a casino, which has been discussed multiple times or Target which had a passing interest in the location [I could live with the Target idea at least they know how to merchandise]
It’s a Boar in more ways than one
The Food Court was beautiful
The Heyday of S&C
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in promoting local retail and the table vendors have my approval, everyone deserves a chance, especially cottage types, BUT during the Christmas season allowing vendors who pay next to nothing to participate are going head to head with other Center City retailers.The Midtown locals spend thousands for rent and overhead, The holiday season is their chance to shine. The Franklin Flea is not my favorite choice. Brooklyn flea organizers vacated Northern Liberties Piazza due to lack of “hipster” attendance and money. Once again a New Yorker assumes he understands Philly’s demographic, he’s in for a surprise. The money crowd [the ladies who lunch] in town hesitate to cross Broad street let alone venture to lower Market. In their minds a “High End” flea market is an oxymoron.  I wish you  good sales and lots of traffic, but have plenty of 10 dollar merchandise on hand.
The best the Gallery has to offer a K Mart flagship.
Despite what the media feeds us daily the recession is still with us. Money is still tight. A flea market that offers the chance for barter that undermines other retailers pricing. Maybe I’m wrong, perhaps it will have no impact other than providing the 99 percent with bargains while the 1 percent shop Walnut Street. I hope so.
This Flea market is nothing more than another step down in the Gallery Shopping complex which has been declining steadily for years. Half the spaces are vacant and those that occupied are dismal beyond imagining. Had Strawbridge remained perhaps The Gallery would have maintained its better retail and respectability, but that is not the story. 8th and Market, once the center of Philadelphia’s highest population density is no more, King of Prussia is the reigning shopping destination. The recent development along Chestnut Street is a good sign, retail has seen a bit of an upswing, but Center city’s population is still not large enough to support an ever-growing number of retailers. The fact is Center City needs suburban shoppers as well as the city dwellers. A flea market in Strawbridges[ although a good try] is not going to attract the customer we need to prosper.
Lets hope this Flea does not become a permanent fixture. A much larger plan and action is required to cure Market Streets decline.
While shopping this season remember, nothing can replace the “city sidewalks” for that Holiday feeling and the free gift wrap in locally owned stores.

One Response to “Strawbridge and Clothier….A Flea Market?”

  1. Julia November 19, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    Well said! Oh how I loved that store – the food court was divine!

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