Tacony residents and business owners are trying to revitalize the Torresdale Avenue business corridor by implementing new projects in the community. The Historic Tacony Revitalization Project is a big community project headed by the Tacony Community Development Corporation.
Alex Balloon, corridor manager of the Tacony CDC, coordinates all the activities and helps implement the projects that happen in the neighborhood.
Saturday’s Spring Shopping Day was one such initiative. Eleven businesses participated in the Spring Shopping day on April 13 which corresponded with Love Your Avenue Clean-up Day on Torresdale Avenue and the city’s annual Philly Spring Cleanup event.
“It gives shop owners an opportunity to give back to customers that support them throughout the year,” said Georgeanne Huff-Labovitz, owner of Marie Huff Hair Dressing at 6934 Torresdale Ave. Huff-Labovitz closed her business Saturday to help with the clean-up. She’s offeringnew customers 10 percent off through Friday to help boost business on the avenue.
“It gives customers a chance to see a store for the first time and to take advantage of some good deals,” she said. “It’s nice that owners can interact with people spending their money in the neighborhood.”
Balloon said Saturday’s events were “a really great way for people to think about Torresdale Avenue as a place to shop in their local community. We would definitely like to do another shopping day in the Fall. This would give the other merchants that didn’t participate this time a chance.”
Brian Freifrlder, owner of Five Dollar CD at 6804 Torresdale Ave., joined the shopping day because he said it would be good for the community. “I hope they provide this opportunity again,” Freifrlder said.
Cleo Psillos, owner of Athenian Restaurant at 6824 Torresdale Ave., said that her customers are first. “The shopping day will bring up businesses in the community. I want to give back to my customers. People are nice in Tacony; we are like family.”
Fox Chase resident Takiyah Shippe saw the shopping day deal online and decided to come over to Tacony and see what it was all about. She stopped and had breakfast at Psillos’ restaurant where there were $1.99 breakfast specials. “I enjoyed myself, and I will come back to Tacony again,” she said. “Everyone is very nice here.”
Sheila Glassman, owner of Smith’s Hardware at 6918 Torresdale Ave. said, “ to be honest, a lot of people haven’t come in asking about the deals we have today. A lot people who came in didn’t see the ad [about the event] in the paper. ”
As people came in to the store, Glassman verbally told customers that everything was 10 percent off that day. Glassman participated in the shopping day to get more business. When asked what makes a local hardware store different from the chains Lowe’s and Home Depot she said instantly, “personalized service.”
“Most customers come in complaining that their keys don’t work when they get them made at Lowe’s or Home Depot.” One customer Glassman rung up agreed with this statement; she was purchasing keys she had made at the store.
Tacony’s revitalization project is also working on its storefront improvement program to restore 17 shops’ facades. Sannutti Funeral Home at 7101 Torresdale Ave. has already been restored, and Denofa’s Homemade Sausage at 6946 Torresdale Ave. is a work in progress.
“ It takes so much to revitalize a place,” Balloon said, “but with everyone working together we can make things happen.”
Tiffany Goforth is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.