If you like bookstores that are independently owned and employ friendly knowledgeable staff, then stop in. It is a small bookstore when compared with behemoths like Barnes and Noble, but it carries a surprisingly good selection of fiction and non fiction. So, not good if you want the latest LSAT study guide, but great if you are interested in browsing literature selctions in a friendly calm atmosphere.
PROS: independent, friendly, nice location
This store has many options for the lover of trendy costume jewlery-- lots of glittery fake diamond like earrings, necklaces and sets as well as faux stone jewlery. There are also pretty options for those who like a bit classier costume jewlery and plain faux silver and gold jewlery. Also cute hair pieces. Not the best quality, but loads of options and this is just for fun anyway. Pieces vary in price--some fancier faux diamond earrings and necklaces can run over $20. Most stuff is between $4 to $20.
PROS: trendy alternative to the real deal, conveniently located
CONS: not the best quality
A friend of mine lived near this shop so she got to know the owner, and he is definitely a character! I like that this shop is "family" owned and run. Every once in awhile, he'll hang a sign outside that will say, "Neighborhood sale, everything at cost," when he needs to get rid of some items or increase his cash flow. I was able to get some nice accessories for my bike, and he even installed a bike rack and basket for me (I can't remember if it was free or at a really good price). The shop is very crowded, and unfortunately you have to go down a few steps into a narrow doorway, a little difficult with a bike. My friend bought her bike there at an excellent price. Bicycle Therapy is also a nice bike shop, so I would check out these 2 first, if you're in the market for a bike or bike stuff.
I am very fond of Bicycle Therapy because I feel that the people who work there really care about bicycles AND the customer. Some bike shops have a snooty feel, but not this store. The first time I was there, I was looking for a bike lock, and they actually recommended a lock that was less than the one I was thinking about getting! I've also been in there to get flat tires fixed, which I've done before but I'm not very good at it. For $10, they fixed my flat and I was able to pick it up the next day. An added plus is that they have free air for your tires on the outside of the store.
NYU has a great reputation and its law school is one of the top in the nation. I want to mention that they also have a great continuing education program. I have taken a couple language classes through their continuing ed program (one for Cantonese and one for Mandarin Chinese). Compared to other programs, I feel that it's good value for the money (about $450 or so I think for the classes I took). I felt that the teachers were well-prepared and really were dedicated to our learning. Sadly, I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but I think that's more to do with the fact that we met once a week, and I didn't practice as much as I could have due to work. Regardless, if you're trying to find a continuing ed class, I recommend you take a look at NYU.
I was waiting for a friend when I stumbled across this used bookstore, located near the main branch of the Free Library and Whole Foods. It looks tiny from the outside, but when you venture in, it's very large and has multiple rooms of used books, heaven for any used book fan. The prices aren't thrift store cheap, but there's great variety, so you might find something that you can't find elsewhere. Plus all proceeds benefit the library. The staff members are volunteers, so while friendly, are not that knowledgeable if you want to find something specific. They have several chairs and a sofa in the back room, so you can sit and read as long as you like. Definitely a treasure!
Foreign Bazaar sells many "exotic" items, mostly from South Asia. I enjoy browsing, and they have a variety of items from some clothing to home accents/furnishings. Their most interesting section is the beads. Having been to some parts of South Asia, it's hard to pay the American prices for the items, but if you don't have a trip planned, then the prices aren't bad and this is a nice place to pick up some items.
There are 2 of these stores, and note that the Locust location has just moved to 20th Street between Spruce and Locust (as of 3/2006) between Maxx's produce and Twenty Manning. I always love browsing at Hello World, since you never know what you'll find. They have unique handbags (some handmade I think), sofa cushions, jewelry, and various home accents and furnishings. If you are looking for something different, then I would check out Hello World. While the items can be pricey, they are one of a kind, so really aren't that outrageous compared to other boutiques.
Let me just say that I love Midtown Diner, but not for its quality of food. Maybe it's the atmosphere, definitely more rundown than most but not gross, with some sunken booth seats, and waitresses (always waitresses, not waiters) who look like this is their 3rd job. I feel like I'm eating with a slice of life that you don't always get to see in Philadelphia, yet its right there in Center City. It's open 24 hours and serves the standard menu of diner food. I like their burgers, french onion soup, egg salad sandwiches, and their breakfast/brunch food, all very affordable. Most days, they have a special for about $10, with soup/salad, entree, coffee/tea and dessert. What makes Midtown priceless is the dive bar in the back, where you can get really cheap beers and the clientele to match. Perhaps it's not the right place to take out-of-town guests, but perfect if you've woken up at 2pm and just need some cheap but decent food.
Blacks sells all types of luggage and bag items. In particular, they have a great selection of briefcases, in particular for women, since it's often hard to find a briefcase or work bag that isn't so masculine. They carry quality brands (like Tumi, Lodis, etc.) with decent prices. If you like something, but want it in a different color, they can order it for you (although beware, I did this and it took a long time to arrive). I have found the staff extremely friendly and nice without being pushy. Robinsons Luggage is bigger, but I think you get more personal attention at Blacks.
PROS: Quality luggage items
CONS: Not open on Sundays, street parking only