To celebrate Reading Terminal Market’s 125th, shopping like it’s 1893

Lynnae Myers, a caterer from South Philly, was surprised when her grocery tab was greeted with whoops, hollers, and the ringing of a large golden bell.

As a part of Reading Terminal Market’s 125th anniversary celebration Thursday, select vendors were selling some items for what they would have cost when the market first opened in 1893.

Lucky for Myers, she had been randomly selected as the next customer at Iovine Brothers Produce to get an 1893 discount: 68 cents for two full bags of produce.

“I have some collard greens, blueberries, strawberries, white yams, purple yams, and red yams, and they were discounted to a dime,” she said. “I feel great, wonderful! Sixty-eight cents for some greens and some fruit. Oh my God, it’s the blessing of the day.”

A chorus of discount bells could be heard across the market as people in period costumes dashed over to fortuitous customers to snap a photo.

Rhonda Saltzman, a baker for the Flying Monkey Bakery, said it’s been fun watching customers discover they snagged an 1893 discount.

“They’re really happy to get their picture taken, but also they really like the cookies,” she said.

The bakery rolled back prices on their pistachio shortbread cookies because the flavor was popular during the time period dubbed by Mark Twain as the “Gilded Age.”

“Every other person that comes by gets it for 25 cents,” Saltzman said. The cookies usually go for two dollars.

Taking a break from shopping, other market-goers gathered around the dining area, which was decked out in the market’s signature green and gold colors, to watch popular entertainment from the era. A barbershop quartet sporting pinstriped suits performed some numbers and an acrobat finessed juggling a handful of books while walking across a thin pole rod.

On Saturday, the festivities will continue with an after-hours party, featuring signature foods from more than 30 vendors and live bands to ring in the anniversary of one of the oldest and largest markets in the country.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.