FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. Why is it called VIX?
VIX is the Roman numeral for 5009, correctly written with a bar over the V. That's our address, 5009 Baltimore Avenue.
Q. What do you sell?
We sell the creative products of many different independent American artists, designers, makers and craftspeople. These include jewelry, ceramics, home wares, accessories, bath & body products, candles, artworks, cards, stationery, prints, toys, t-shirts and many other unique gift items. Most of our makers are based in the Philadelphia area, the rest in other parts of the USA.
Q. You make all this stuff?
Oh no, we're not that talented. Over a hundred different artists and craftspeople show their work here; we are two of many. We do produce our own graphic "West Philly" apparel and some handprinted stationery. Emily makes jewelry called precious meshes, pieces crocheted out of silver or gold wire.
Q. Is everything made locally?
The majority of our makers are based in the Philadelphia area, but we have many from other parts of the country too. We don't work with vendors outside of the USA.
Q. Are these gorgeous cabinets original to the building?
Yes and no. The building was erected in 1905, we think. The cabinets were built in the 1930s or 40s, when J.M. Grumbine Millinery operated here. Jennie and Margaret Grumbine were milliners, or hatmakers, originally from Lewistown, PA, who set up shop here sometime in the early 1930s. They put in the wood fixtures that still remain today: lighted, mirrored built-in display cabinets and the show window with beveled glass panes. There are even two 3-way mirrored alcoves to view headwear from any angle.
Q. What was here before?
Before the millinery (see above), it was a restaurant called Lutz's Cafe, known for their oysters. After the millinery closed sometime in the late 60s or early 70s, this space became a dress shop called MeMe's Fashions. Many long-time neighborhood residents still remember it as a treasure trove of unique fashions and accessories. The proprietress passed away sometime in the mid-1990s. The building became disused and abandoned. The pipes were allowed to freeze, creating extensive water damage throughout the building. For a time, parts of the building were squatted. It was purchased and rehabbed in 2003 by the current owner and his former partner, who operated MiaLou, an "artisan gallery and general store" from 2003-2006, selling a variety of handmade clothing, accessories and gifts.
Q. Who are you guys?
The Emporium is owned and operated by Sean and Emily Dorn. They live in West Philadelphia with their daughter.
Sean works as a graphic artist for a local newspaper and is responsible for VIX's "West Philly" graphics and handprinted stationery. He also plays the stand-up bass. Emily works in the shop and also makes hand-crocheted wire jewelry, which can be seen in person and at preciousmeshes.com.
Q. Where are you located?
restaurants Dahlak, Vientiane, Vietnam Cafe, Amari's, Booker's, the Gold Standard, Satellite Cafe, and Dock Street brewpub. We are easily accessible to Center City via public transit - the 34 "green line" trolley goes right to our door.
Q. I make something - can I sell my work here?
Possibly! We are always looking for fresh new wares. Show us what you make, and we'll consider it. Email photos, descriptions and prices (wholesale and suggested retail) to info (at) vixemporium (dot) com. We make decisions based on uniqueness, affordability, marketability and various undefinable criteria.
Unfortunately, due to the large number of submissions received, we can respond only to the vendors whose work interests us. Categories we are NOT interested in include books, framed artworks, and clothing other than t-shirts, as we lack the space to display these properly.