Spruce Lane Shops: Meadowsweet Mercantile

Meadowsweet Mercantile
Neighborhood: Old City, Philadelphia
Vibe: Eclectic, Urban-chic, Artistic, Natural, Free Spirited
Good for: Textiles, vintage denim, t-shirts, locally made accessories, women’s apparel

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Meet Meadowsweet Mercantile in Old City, a veteran shop within the Philly retail landscape that has been on my watch list since I started Spruce Lane back in December. So, what is Meadowsweet Mercantile and why is it so great? Well, we can begin with the “what” by explaining that Meadowsweet is a gorgeous, spacious storefront that serves up an incredible mix of vintage denim and tees, along with other amazing apparel and accessories from some of the area's best local vendors. Considering that 90’s fashion is very much "in" at the moment, this shop is a haven for denim aficionados looking to channel laid back, street style vibes. You can also find an eclectic mix of t-shirts and colorful tops to pair perfectly with your newfound denim. Some of my favorite picks included a rainbow Phish band tee as well as a Camden Catholic High School Football long-sleeved shirt. My mother went to Camden Catholic so I knew she would get a kick out of seeing that. I mean, where else can you find such hidden gems?

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In addition to the rad vintage selection, Meadowsweet features a nice assortment of women’s apparel from long-time vendors Lilian Jackson Textiles and Riverside Tool and Dye, amongst others. Organized by every hue of the rainbow, these colorful organic cotton pieces are perfect for keeping cool during the dog days of summer we have ahead of us. The shop also offers a mix of home goods, gifts and accessories that are utterly charming. I absolutely loved the ceramics section with locally made mugs, catch-all dishes, bowls and more. We ended up buying a speckled trinket dish to go in our living room that brightens my day every time I see it. Basically, if you purchase anything from here you can rest assured know you are taking something very cool home with you. 

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So, onto the “why” part of my initial question. If you couldn’t tell from my aforementioned description of Meadowsweet and all it has to offer, the place really is something special. To add to the excitement of visiting this boutique, It is linked up with an awesome textile shop called Cuttalossa. Cuttalossa sells handmade linens, towels, pillows, napkins, you name it! Both stores’ aesthetics compliment one another so nicely and the entire space feels very cohesive. I really appreciate seeing local shop owners collaborate together like these two do. If you follow Meadowsweet Mercantile on Instagram, you will be able to keep tabs on the many exciting events these shops coordinate each season. There was a wine and cheese tasting in the spring that I was dying to attend (totally would have if I weren't traveling for my FT job, sigh). Hopefully there will be another opportunity soon!

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I chatted with store owner, Stacy Jackson, a bit to hear about her career leading up to the shop and what she finds important about running a small business given the market's competitive nature with online shopping and big name brands. Stacy has been involved with small business since her teens, accruing a wealth of knowledge through the many different professional hats she wore leading up to the launch of Meadowsweet in 2011. A few of her experiences included working at a coffee shop, a doctor's office, and eventually at Anthropologie's Walnut St. location. Each experience helped shape her views on comparing the nuances of small vs. big businesses and what is required operationally to manage each type. Jackson emphasizes that merchandising and special events are other key components to staying fresh in the Philly boutique scene. Shopping online has become so convenient (and an obvious threat to small business owners), but a visually appealing space with one of a kind pieces and interactive elements such as DIY workshops or designer pop-ups is unrivaled in e-commerce. These are the tangible things that make Meadowsweet and many of Philly's other small boutiques so special and irreplaceable. 

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I really believe that shops like Meadowsweet Mercantile, and many of the others I've featured on this blog are a crucial part of the city; more than many people realize. Could you imagine if you walked down the streets of Old City and only could find big name stores like Kohl's, Target, Williams Sonoma, etc.? *No particular judgment on those companies, just the first that came to my mind. Life would be so boring and commercialized! Meadowsweet, and boutique shops in general represent a pillar of Philadelphia's tourism. They are just as important as the many superb restaurants and sights the city has to offer. 

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Experience the charm of Meadowsweet Mercantile for yourself by visiting the shop located at 47 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Heck, you may even see me there shopping for my next pair of denim shorts, because I'm just about done with my old pair of H&M ones. Their beautiful Instagram feed is another way to stay connected, so shoot them a follow at @meadowsweetmercantile.  

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Shop on.

Spruce Lane Shops: Plume and Thread

Spruce Lane Shops: Plume and Thread
Neighborhood: Kensington, Philadelphia
Vibe: Free spirited, feminine, quality comfort and leisure
Good for: Women’s wear, leisure wear, sun dresses, fun prints, jogger pants

Meet Plume and Thread, the womenswear apparel brand based near Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. For this post, I’m slightly veering off my usual circuit of local retail, but for good reason – to give you an insider’s view of Plume and Thread’s industrial-chic studio as well as its unique brand philosophy that distinguishes itself from others.

To give you some context on the brand, Plume and Thread (P+T) was created by Jodi Schaff in a somewhat out of the ordinary manner. Jodi comes from a background in landscape design, but always had a natural sense of creativity and valued excellent craftsmanship, which ultimately brought her into the fashion world. Little by little Jodi began to experiment with producing her own clothing, and eventually was noticed by a local store owner who took interest in one of her pieces. The store owner asked Jodi to bring more of her samples of her work to the store, and the rest is history. Years later, here we are in Plume and Thread’s studio discussing her clothing line that is sold in over 300 stores in the country.*

In terms of product assortment, I previewed P+T’s spring line so I was able to peruse a number of beautiful printed maxi dresses, nautical striped shirts, feminine wrap dresses, the most comfortable jogger pants I’ve ever felt, and much, much more. The pieces are very versatile and can be worn on many occasions by a wide audience of both younger and older women. I also must say that the clothes were really a treat for my senses. Visually, the detailed prints and vibrant color palettes kept my eye bouncing from one item to the next, while texturally every piece felt soft and delicate to the touch. It was a unique combination that often gets lost or forgotten about in today’s world of fast fashion and trendy looks. These characteristics are no accident though, as the Plume and Thread brand pride itself on being USA-made, particularly with much of the production taking place within a 5-mile radius from their studio.

Photo courtesy of Plume and Thread

Photo courtesy of Plume and Thread

Some of the print making takes place in California, but the cutting, sewing and final touches happen in here in good old Philadelphia. Jodi could have easily outsourced this work overseas, like many brands do, but then she wouldn’t have the quality control or level of involvement in her designs that she currently has. She drew an interesting parallel that I had never considered before when she posed the question, “why do people prefer buying produce from their local farmer’s market, and why do people gravitate towards a local flower shop over the supermarket?”. It’s the same reason she goes local with her manufacturers – because she knows them on a personal basis which builds an unparalleled level of rapport and trust. There is no cutting corners with this brand, which I love. Everything is done with thought and intention, hence their motto, “Mindful, Alive, Considerate”.

Photo courtesy of Plume and Thread

Photo courtesy of Plume and Thread

During my visit, we spent some additional time chatting about the industry as a whole, particularly the importance of integrity in the fashion world and how P+T’s mission is to make women feel strong and their best selves when wearing these clothes. It was uplifting to talk with such like-minded individuals who have similar passions: a love for all things local, an appreciation for high quality design, and a “pay it forward” mentality, since at the end of the day we all care about fashion and want to help each other grow and succeed.

The Plume and Thread ladies were kind enough to send me home with a print maxi dress that I’ve already worn during my trip to Florida. It is perfect for the beach due to its relaxed feel (I’m not kidding, it’s so soft) yet feminine design. Each time I wear it, I’ll be able to reflect upon my visit to P+T’s Kensington studio and all of the interesting things I learned about this awesome brand. I’ll understand the amount of thought, work, and love that went into this dress and smile because it was made right here in the City of Brotherly Love.  

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Plume and Thread is sold at local retailers throughout the US and Canada (the full list can be found here), and also is developing their e-commerce business. You can follow their Instagram account @plumeandthread for updates on fun product giveaways, the brand’s involvement in the local community, and also visit their site’s blog to read more about Jodi’s unique and inspiring philosophy.

*To read the full article on Jodi’s background and the development of Plume and Thread, visit http://www.philly.com/philly/home/Plume-Thread-Jodi-Schaff-meet-your-maker.html

Spruce Lane Shops: Weekend

Weekend
Neighborhood: Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia
Vibe: Artistic, gallery-like, minimalism, community-based, refined
Good for: Home goods, gifts, accessories, artwork, plants

Spruce Lane is proud to break its first piece of news to the Philadelphia shopping community! We want to extend a very warm welcome to Weekend, a new home, gifts, and lifestyle shop that opened a few weeks ago in Philadelphia's Graduate Hospital neighborhood. You may however already be familiar with the store owner, Ethan Nguyen, because his sister shop, M Concept is conveniently located across the street. 

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Both M Concept and Weekend pride themselves on putting the spotlight on made local goods by independent designers and brands. The main difference though are the scopes. M Concept is Ethan's fashion-centric outlet, selling apparel, jewelry, and handbags made by emerging designers. Conversely, Weekend is a curated space for the home, offering beautiful pieces of artwork, candles, linens, coasters and more, exclusively made by Philadelphia-based artisans. 

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I was curious about how Nguyen goes about scouting new vendors to feature in his stores and he explained it really boils down to relationships and networking. He knows many of his designers on a personal level and often commissions special pieces to be made, adding to the exclusivity factor of his spaces. 

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I must say that the sense of community in Philadelphia is very apparent after having spent some time bouncing around many local businesses in the area, and especially after chatting with Nguyen. It makes me believe that there really is truth behind the age-old saying of Philadelphia being the City of Brotherly Love. I can't help but compare my experiences here to my time previously spent in New York City and can conclude that New York's sense of community and camaraderie gets lost in translation due to its grandiosity. The energy of New York City certainly is unparalleled, but there's something also to be said about slowing down and admiring things that are made or stores that are run on a smaller, more intimate level. 

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It felt incredibly refreshing stepping inside Weekend and observing the hard work that goes into not only curating such a beautiful store, but also on behalf of all of the local artisans who produce such wonderful products and designs. Some call-outs include beautiful embroidered linens by Alyssa Brieanne Design, sumptuous candles by Zuzuglow, amazingly intricate aerials by Stitch Prism, and handcrafted ceramics by Miki Palchik of Clay Studio Designs. I also enjoyed the gallery-feel the shop had, as each assortment was complimented by a small informational card that detailed the artisan and his or her line of work. 

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As we made our way out to continue on with the rest of our day, we chatted with Nguyen a bit more about the shop's immediate neighborhood, local bloggers, et cetera and true to his nature, he was an encyclopedia of Philly insider knowledge. He listed a few suggestions of accounts for me to follow, blogger groups to become involved with, and gave us a great nearby lunch recommendation (@milestable). This "pay it forward" mentality is something that I truly appreciate and believe Spruce Lane and Weekend have in common; a passion for promoting and supporting local talent.

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As we all know, Philly sometimes gets a bad rep with many outsiders calling us cold, mean and aggressive, but step inside Weekend and that all changes. Weekend shows that we're creative, artistic, hard working, and so much more. With that being said, enjoy the rest of your weekend and visit the shop located at 1533 South St. You can also stay up to date with all of M Concept and Weekend's latest developments by following @mconcept_and_weekend on Instagram. 

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