EgoFebruary 22, 2012 at 5:41 am

Vixteen Candles

This West Philly institution lets local crafters hawk their wares

Megan Ruben

We know, Mommy and Daddy have warned you about the perils of West Philly. Well, VIX Emporium and its number of visitors beg to differ. Sporting West Philly pride in everything from badass sweatshirts to the works of local artisans, this gift/craft/body care store fails to confine itself to a single category.

Around since the 1940s, the venue maintains the same beautiful wooden displays that once held the quirky hat selections of Philadelphian fashionistas of yore. VIX still has quite the hat collection, but the store’s true bragging rights lie in its sheer variety of trinkets.

From Prince–inspired earrings to embroidered flasks, Vix is a small store with a not–so–small collection. Paintings, crocheted decor, T–shirts and photographs climb the walls while Japanese–style ceramics and miniature hand–painted sculptures decorate a long wooden display running the length of the room.  Whether you’re looking for a quirky gift or some trendy houseware, VIX offers a quick route to Bohemian glory. A bath and body section offers soaps and perfumes with beautifully–detailed labels. A shelf over, drool–worthy hand decorated purses bask in vintage splendor, not to be outshined by a nearby display of boldly–colored wallets. At the register, a glass case entertains both a fruit–inspired necklace collection and a lace–based jewelry set, while pins featuring Tim Burton, Marilyn Monroe and a variety of skulls litter the counter.

Though the eclectic array of merchandise could occupy anyone for hours, one of the more unique aspects of this already unconventional store lies just to the right of the front door.  A number of what can only be referred to as miniature exhibitions inhabit this brightly–lit corner of VIX, a space surprisingly conducive to an artistic display. For the rest of February, the works of Corina Dross will grace this corner of crafty glory, with the winding black contours of her cartoon–like figures appearing on everything from postcards to calendars. Not only are her works reasonably–priced, ranging from around $3 to $25 for the larger illustrations, but they adopt an air of informality that seems to encourage their candid humor. Her current series, titled “Portable Fortitude,” is based upon the backdrop of a deck of cards. These hand–decorated, doodle–esque playing cards are converted into magnets, each with an illustrated talismanic phrase to encourage good luck and protection. A new artist is featured and honored with a wine and cheese reception at the store every month.

So when you don’t have anything to buy, VIX can still offer you plenty to look at. If for nothing else, check out this corner of Baltimore to admire the quirkiness of style that silently reigns over the West Philly you thought you knew.

5009 Baltimore Ave.
What you’ll find there: Handmade trinkets, knickknacks, sweatshirts, purses and more
Bottom Line: A hand–made haven not too far from campus

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