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