Sunday, Feb 18, 2007
Visitors Guide
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Put on your shopping shoes to hit a wide variety of stores

By Lloylita Prout
Inquirer Staff Writer

OK. All right. Philly cheesesteak thing: done. Rocky-run up the Art Museum steps: done.

Now it's time for what Americans really want to do when they travel (and the reason your friends from another time zone came here to visit you in the first place) - go shopping.

And we both know they came to the right place. Hip or hip-hop, couture or funk, outlets, gadgeterias, sound stores and more, they're all right here. To wit:

Hip to be Square. Ah, Rittenhouse Square. Read under a tree, watch squirrels scurry from tree to tree, or simply relax on a blanket in the grass. But the real action is right next door - the shops along Walnut Street. With a bevy of stores to choose from, your out-of-towners will be impressed with the selection. Start at Anthropologie (1801 Walnut St.), the four-level manifestation of the mail catalog.

Directly across the street is Kiehl's (1737 Walnut St.), where you can purchase natural cosmetics. Break for lunch at one of Rittenhouse's many restaurants and eat outside, weather permitting.

Then continue on and take the man in town on business to Brooks Brothers (1513 Walnut St.), the woman to Joan Shepp Boutique (1616 Walnut). Keep strolling and eventually you stumble upon Urban Outfitters (1809 Walnut St.). Sometimes a bit overpriced, the trendy, three-floor market has fashions for men, women and the home. Locals are conscious of the tendency to tire from all the walking, but be sure to pace your visitors' energy so they make it to Puma (1505 Walnut St.). They'll be impressed as they are flanked by a wall of sneakers on one side and apparel on the other. The store sits next to Ubiq and Diesel.

His-store-y. People may not want to admit it, but hearing about the nation's birthplace can be sort of, well, dull. After your pals tour the National Constitution Center and see the crack in the Liberty Bell, the way to keep eyes from glazing over is to steer the day-trip to the vicinity of Third Street.

A waft of vanilla scent smacks you in the face as candles and handmade soaps welcome all to Indigo Arts (151 N. Third St.). Oranges, purples and reds sparkle from handmade pillows or gleam from the rhinestone earrings that dangle from displays on the counter. This depot of imported wares and textiles also houses Haitian art upstairs.

More conventional household items can be found at Foster's Urban Homeware (124 N. Third St.). Maneuver carefully through displays of mod magazine racks, kitchen appliances, and furniture. This place sells about anything your house could want - including rubber duckies.

The specialized shopping that is boutiques is in abundance in Old City, so venture off Third Street to Market Street and walk into Threadz (239 Market St.) or Charles Porter (212 Market St.).

Super-size me. What would a day of shopping be without visiting the area's famous behemoth malls? King of Prussia Mall (Route 202 at Mall Boulevard) - the "largest mall on the East Coast" - is a two-day affair, with Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor just three of its eight anchor stores for more than 300 specialty shops.

Or, there is discount shopping! I-95 is the yellow brick road that leads you to the outlet Oz of Franklin Mills Mall (Woodhaven and Knights Roads) with Last Call (Neiman Marcus) and Off 5th (Saks Fifth Avenue). In Center City, the Gallery, between Eighth and 11th on Market Street, is urban shopping at its largest. Three floors house Dr. Denim and City Blue plus a Big Kmart. Hello, blue-light-special people.

Down South. Out-of-towners marvel over South Street while we locals take it for granted. But there are treasures to be had in those funky storefronts. The '60s- or '80s-inspired fashion that is hot right now - the original could very well be found at Greene Street Consignment (700 South St.). And music stores are everywhere you turn - Cue Records (617 S. Fourth St.), 611 Records (611 S. Fourth St.), and Spaceboy (409 South St.). At the Reebok Store (414 South St.), you might catch an appearance by Alan Iverson, if you're lucky.

Strip mall. Suburbia's strip malls have become somewhat of a bad joke, but in a community where doctors, lawyers and other well-heeled types reside, shopping is anything but laughable. Doubt it? Just pull your vehicle into the main entrance of the Promenade at Sagemore (500 Route 73 South) in Marlton, an outdoor mall of upscale stores, among them: Adrienne Vittadini, Coach, White House/Black Market, Boss, or Lucky. Organized Living, Lenox and Bose provide for the house, while L.L. Bean rounds out the selection.

Nearby Marlton Square (300 Route 73 South) is where Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and Trader Joe's reside.

But Marlton is for the thrifty, too. Across the way at Marlton Crossing Shopping Center (207 Route 73 South) TJ Maxx and DSW are neighbors, and a few doors down looms Burlington Coat Factory.

Add to all this the boutiques of Chestnut Hill's Germantown Avenue and the galleries and shops of Manayunk's Main Street and you have to admit: Philadelphia and environs can do some serious damage to a dedicated shopper's credit limit.