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Photo Slideshow: Treasures & Trinkets at Vix Emporium

After living in Philly for years, I recently realized I had never seized the opportunity to go West.  What did it finally take for me to trek out to Baltimore Ave?  A century-old hat shop turned curiosity boutique by the name of Vix Emporium. Upon entering the shop, I gasped: every surface was cloaked in the cutest gifts, prints, frames, pottery, candles, and soaps- like a non-virtual Etsy.

And then, I saw the jewelry.

Emily Conroy-Dorn started by selling her own jewelry designs on Etsy. Her business translated from web to reality when it started as 100 percent consignment just four years ago.  But when I asked how many artists she presently featured in-store, I was shocked to hear, “They come and go, but easily over 200.”

Among the unique baubles are artist Gretchen Diehl’s Birdqueen Designs.  She miraculously yields extravagant pieces from my childhood obsession: shrinky dink!  One necklace and earring set in particular instantly caught my eye; silver mesh chains hang from what looked like Moroccan clay-fired butterfly wings. Real Fruit Jewelry makes kiwis look still edible, but more like rare gems. And there are delicate glass mirrors strewn around just to make you feel like Snow White.  Also purchasable, you could totally take one home and gaze at your newly adorned self all day!

“I don’t really have one aesthetic, that’s why it’s called an emporium,” Conroy-Dorn says.

Lots of vintage and recycled trinkets link the current-day treasure trove with it’s past.  Above the original cabinetry is a stash of old hat boxes dating from when J.M. Grumbine Millinery, a boutique that specialized in lady’s hats, graced the wood-paneled shop. Aviaire offers pendants of the exposed inter-workings of vintage watches dotted with color.  The line also makes use of typewriter keys and miniature brass liberty bells; all vintage, of course.

But VIX’s share of Philly-inspired items doesn’t stop there. There are “ill” tag necklaces,“West Philly is the best Philly,” magnets and cards, and a line of Gritty City soy wax candles that bring you that rebellious smell of gin and flappers with “Prohibition.” Take all day browsing through bookmarks, pottery, frames, hand-printed cards by VIX, and gentleman’s products you’d likely see in an apothecary.  You could spend all day sniffing body care products by Volta Organics.  There are even bath and body oils scented according to their colorful labels of pin-up girls, Indian princesses and Victorian goddesses.

So gather up some extra pocket cash and take the Market-Frankford out to 49th & Baltimore, rounding off the trip at nearby Satellite Cafe. Or if you’re really that lazy, check out all these artists’ frippery online.

**Photos by Katie Warburton

–Marissa Oswald

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Editor  says:

“seized” not “ceased”

Feb 22 7:42 PM

emily  says:

Thanks so much for the amazing feature and all the great photos, great job! You really highlighted so many of the wonderful handmade creations that we have gathered together.

One travel note: the 34 trolley is the best way to get to VIX, so transfer from the Market-Frankford at 13th, 15th or 30th.

Feb 23 6:41 AM

katie  says:

It’s a great shop. In far West Philly we also have a fabulous new Mexican restaurant, Guacamole Mex-Grill, on Woodland Ave. near 46th Street, a great Indian place at Baltimore and 45th (Desi Village), Dock Street Brew Pub at Baltimore and 50th with truly amazing pizza (maybe the best in the city), a great new bakery on Woodland near the Mexican place, the A-Space, a community space that is holding a spinning workshop (yes, yarn spinning) tomorrow, and lots of other cool things to do and see. Very community oriented, so you never run out of cheap, fun things to do.

Feb 23 11:39 AM

Marissa  says:

I will certainly be taking more trips to West Philly, ladies!!!! Thanks for the recommendations :)

Feb 23 7:39 PM

jean  says:

gay article.

Feb 23 7:50 PM

Liz  says:

Excellent and informative article…thanks Marissa! Can not wait to shop there….so fun! Need to make a trip to West Philly soon!Great pics too!!

Feb 23 8:18 PM


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