This five block stretch of Germantown Avenue isn’t gushing to tell its secrets. You’ll find tall trees and narrow, stone-laid storefronts, not neon lights. But don’t let the formal appearance fool you. Step inside. A shop owner, who probably lives just a few blocks away, will show you Mount Airy’s experimental side.
Neighbors make soaps, jewelry, crafts and fine arts, then showcase them at artist-owned stores like Artista and Jean-Jacques Gallery. Looking for castaway finds? High-end suits, gowns, lingerie and jewelry at What A Girl Wants & a guy needs are priced at five to 10 percent of their retail value and sold with chocolate Mount Airy Rocks. Past and Present carries feather boas, wigs, and all things ‘dress-up.’
Start your day at the Trolley Stop Diner on the 7600 block. The stainless steel eatery, ice cream shop and deli, plucked right from 1952, replaced a Roy Rogers. Walk east for fair trade coffee on the couches of InFusion–A Coffee and Tea Gallery. Add in some well-being with Black Olive Marketplace’s foods and supplements, priced below market standards, complete with family-focused nutrition workshops. Take a break at the historic Sedgwick, or “Little Theater,” which serves ice cream and popcorn with $6 screenings from the Video Library’s public collection. Nighttime’s a live show with dinner at North by Northwest or fresh-baked flatbreads and original beers at Earth, Bread and Brewery.
West Mount Airy is a Philly stronghold. Some of the businesses, like the hundred-year-old, fourth-generation owned Rothe Florists, have been here a very long time. Road construction, which lasted for a year and a half, wasn’t kind, and even shuttered some businesses. But the cranes have been cleared, the jackhammers silenced, and even though West Mount Airy doesn’t like to shout, its people are hardly shy. “It’s a state of mind,” says lifelong resident Bill Dikeman. “You find all these things you didn’t even know existed, things you hadn’t anticipated… surprises.”
West Mount Airy, 7100-7600 Germantown Ave., now holds First Friday arts walks. Their PhillyCarShare pods are at Durham St. and Germantown Ave. Take the 23 or the R8 to the Allen’s Lane stop and walk north two blocks.