Tuesday, February 24, 2009
In our headstrong search for a quality of life story, we happened upon the self-owned-and-operated rich "district", if you will, of Fabric Row. What is ironic about Fabric Row, on Fourth Street, between South Street and Catherine, even though it does enhance the quality of our neighborhood and provide a historical marker in Philadelphia, and for many shop owners family history, it also acts as a major supplier and convenient aid to fashion designers, tailors, and upholsterers in numerous states and regions of the East Coast.
Every shop owner and customer we interviewed mentioned the fact that people from all over the east coast have come to Fabric Row in Philadelphia to shop for the supplies that they need rather than travel to New York City or settle for their local fabric shops (if there are any still in existence). People from as far as Florida, Virginia, Vermont, West Pennsylvania, Delaware, and all of New Jersey, travel to Southern Philadelphia simply for fabric.
“We get a lot of Delaware people.” Marty Zatcoff, owner and operator of Kincus Fabrics said about his clientele. “We have a guy who comes a couple times a year from the University of Vermont to buy fabric for their shows. We get a lot of schools who drive up here from Virginia for their marching bands. [Just] regular customers who take the ride.”
When we asked James La Grants Rogers, owner of La Grants, why he thought Philadelphia is such a hotspot for fashionistas and others in the business living outside our state lines, he said that the typicality of department and discount stores in addition to the low number of fabric suppliers in those areas are lacking what Fabric Row possess.
“They want something they don’t see in stores. A lot of times you go in the stores you see the same kind of products over and over again. It’s not how it use to be where everybody had something different.”
So it was inspiring really, even standing in the rain and cold, waiting patiently to do interviews for this project, to know that our modest urban neighborhood has such a significant impact on such a large section of our country.
Group 16: John Casey, Gabbi DiPietro and DaVonne Armstrong