The staff at New Balance of Philadelphia & South Jersey isn't concerned with simply selling shoes—their mission is to pair customers with the footwear that will carry them comfortably through life’s arduous steps. Understanding that an ill-fitting pair of athletic shoes can cause pain to joints and potentially damage knees, hips, and the back, associates measure the length and width of each client's foot and conduct a gait analysis to chart the trajectory of their stride when walking normally or running through ball pits. The data are collected to help the staff match clients with their ideal shoe, keeping them running longer and looking good while doing so.
It all started with a deflated basketball. Though longtime friends Mike Kennedy and Eric Martin scoured downtown Boston for an inflating needle to fill it, no shops in the area carried one. They were frustrated—and they realized that other Bostonians looking for athletic gear were likely frustrated too. So in 1983, they opened City Sports, a shop stocked with all the footwear, athletic apparel, and sports equipment that the metropolis had been missing.
Nearly three decades later, Mike and Eric's neighborhood business has expanded to 20 shops across the East Coast. In addition to stocking popular brands such as Vibram, The North Face, and Patagonia, the store engineers its own CS by City Sports line. Shoppers include yogis, cyclists, and tennis players—anyone seeking to outfit active lifestyles, whether they're playing a team sport or braving the hike up the world's largest gumdrop. In addition to footwear and apparel, the staff stocks fitness equipment such as kettlebells, lifting gloves, and dumbbells.
For more than four decades, Merion Art & Repro Center has supplied artists, engineers, architects, and other professionals with the building blocks of creativity. One needs only to look down an aisle for inspiration. In one area lie hundreds of paints and canvases ready to be transformed into watercolor masterpieces. In another, clay waits patiently for the right sculptor to come along and mold it into its true form: an even bigger ball of clay.
Beyond art supplies, Merion encompasses a fully equipped copy shop and a custom-framing center. Here, expert framers help clients select from thousands of frame and mat styles, honing in on the perfect design to preserve photos or parking tickets autographed by the best traffic cop in town.
Vision Source Philadelphia’s network of boutiques and optometrists’ offices protects patients’ vision with exams and eyewear. Each location’s optical experts care for eyesight with treatments such as laser vision correction, glaucoma diagnoses, and emergency care, as well as assessing prescriptions. Then, galleries grace nose-bridges with frames from brands such as Ted Baker, Gucci, Dior, and Armani.
As Sweet As Can Be bundles together candy, chocolate, cookies, and an assortment of other edible sugar delivery systems to create customized gift packages ($20+) that sate even the most sprinkle-flecked of sweet-teeth. Chocolate-dipped Oreos, almond "moo" bark, and chocolate-dipped marshmallows ($16.95 per pound) intermingle with chocolate-covered pretzels ($14 for a box of 13) on the store's mouthwatering menu of confections, confits, and California sunshine, as well as non-traditional sweet eats such as chocolate-covered popcorn. If it can be dipped in fudge, drizzled with icing, or smothered in sprinkles, it can likely be found on As Sweet As Can Be's candy catalog. And if it can't, the store's candyteers will do their best to make it for you special.
Hope Chest curates a trove of designer intimates that sensuously shelter curves and help to shape physiques. Boutique attendants measure figures to unite AA- to H-cup bras and band sizes ranging from 30 to 42 with their convex counterparts. Independent, multi-lingual panties, hose, camisoles, and shapewear are recruited from European and American lines such as Chantelle, Wolford, and Fleur't. With seamless underwire cups and front closures, Le Mystère's signature y-back bras modestly mask their structures ($60+). Organic-cotton Hanky Panky thongs ($18 for one, $48 for three) compete for seats with Cosabella hot pants and bikinis in games of musical chairs ($22+), and Spanx stockings and leggings sculpt and cinch below the belt ($26+). Pajama sets round out the collection with varying degrees of sultriness, as camisoles provide the missing link in the complex evolution of underwear to outerwear.