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Amy’s Place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has become a destination for impulse buys

Tucked into 635-square-feet in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, Amy’s Place is an impulse shopper’s paradise. Need a bag to carry cheese, olives or a new taste treat from the market’s Salumeria? Amy’s Place has lots. Need something to prep and serve your savory selections from Kamal’s Middle Eastern Specialties? Amy’s Place has just what you need. In town for a convention and want something fun to bring home to the kids? Amy’s Place has it.
Since she first opened the store in 1994, Amy Podolsky has expanded her tightly packed impulse paradise three times, each time evolving and perfecting the store’s mix of colorful, playful yet highly utilitarian wares. “We make a business out of impulse sales,” Podolsky said. “We do high volume, we turn quickly and I order frequently.”
Wares that can’t carry their weight quickly end up in the closeout basket for quick clearance. “We can’t afford to have anything sit in that small a space,” she noted.
The store, whose merchandise mix skews strongly to lightweight, portable and playfully colored products, relies on three types of customers, according to Podolsky. The largest group consists of tourists and visitors to the Pennsylvania Convention Center located across the street, who account for a little over half the store’s sales. The other two groups likely to be found in the store are workers from nearby businesses shopping on their lunch hour and locals who are shopping the market for its myriad gourmet food selections.
“We do a lot of business in bags, particularly tying into the green theme,” said Podolsky. “We also sell a lot of shopping carts.”
Not the kind of supermarket carts you might expect, but high-end Riesenthel cart bags popular in Europe and gaining popularity in U.S. urban centers. “We do a very large business with them,” said Podolsky, who said she discovered them on a trip to the New York International Gift Fair.
Even in conventional housewares categories, Amy’s Place puts its own playful spin on merchandising. Eschewing the commercial utilitarian look often associated with gourmet housewares, Podolsky liberally uses color to create a more whimsical take on food preparation. Her colander selection, for example, is built around porcelain coated steel models in bright lime green, lemon yellow or a zesty orange. No stainless here.
Want a colorful silicone spatula with matching garlic press? Now you’re talking. “My philosophy is the brighter the better,” said Podolsky. “It’s a big market and our shop is known to be fun and functional.”
If you’re looking for conventional cookware, high-end cutlery or some of the other utilitarian staples of the gourmet kitchen, this is not the place for you. On the other hand, if you need a colorful new lunchbox, whimsically, brightly hued on-the-go beverageware or a playful bib for an upcoming baby shower, grab a sack and get shopping.



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