Thursday, December 11, 2008

Names change, but the game remains the same

WTHN Philadelphia is now Alife Rivington Club Philly. One of my peeps in the "industry" hipped me to this back when I had money to spend (aka last summer). He also told me that they were planning on moving up the block to a vacant space with a killer facade. My thoughts at the time were:
  • how?
  • when?
  • really?
I haven't been over there yet, but word is it's still at the same location. This is a good look because it affords Philly with a viable alternative to the streetwear superstore that is Ubiq Walnut. When Ubiq closed temporarily for renovations, it was a boon to all the other smaller shops in Philly like Deep Sleep, Pedestrian, and WTHN, along with other pure skate shops like Exit and Nocturnal. It was also crucial to their development, as most of them opened up around the time Ubiq was preparing to shut down. The newer stores carried more real heat than Ubiq did, which at the time was tryna pass off Franco Shade gear as though it were the hottest thing on the streets. :|

Meanwhile, the smaller shops were carrying all the stuff ppl really wanted--and they profited accordingly. Wanted the hottest in Japanese denim or some of that stuff that even streetkids think is weird? Holler at Phil over at Deep Sleep. Some fresh tees? Pedestrian on South St had 'em on hold for you. And those new Nike's? By the time they were up on Mason's WTHN blog, there were prolly only 3 sizes left. When The Hundreds released their Adam Bomb 59/50's at 5 stores nationwide, WTHN was one of them.

But once Ubiq reopened, the game changed. And how could it not? They already had a brand, a prime location in Philadelphia's downtown shopping district, and a layout that was purely bananas. Once they started signing on Vans and then Stussy to occupy the second floor of their literal mansion, it was a wrap for the small guy. I know for a fact that every small shop took a hit when Ubiq Walnut reopened, and continued to as Ubiq first grabbed esoteric brands like Perks and Mini and Supreme, and later got all the streetwear staples like Crooks, The Hundreds, Mishka, 10Deep, et al. Not to mention they revamped their sneaker accounts as well.

Personally, I realized it when I noticed that I stopped going down to 2nd St. to shop like I used to on the weekends. Along with having connects at Ubiq already, they pretty much carried what I wanted if I wanted it, and the old shops were obviously not getting the exclusives they had been while Ubiq was closed.

The only exception was that Deep Sleep still had some great denim and some good left-of-left-of-center brands, and WTHN was the only place to cop ALIFE stuff due to his relationship with their ppl. For that reason, it wasn't much of a surprise when I heard this last summer, but I still felt some type of way about losing a small, young Philadelphia institution to a quasi-conglomerate. It's the cappuccino-crowd's equivalent to walking into you favorite local coffee shop to find out it's now a Starbucks. (Well, not entirely, but still, you get my drift.)

I'm gonna try and get down there this weekend. Hopefully the change will help Mason get some more goods to the level that the Alife store in NYC has.

I say this like I actually have money to buy any of it, which I don't, but hey, it's the season of giving. Any of you folks interested in providing apparel or footwear for a hardworking young man such as myself, you know how to contact me.

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