Philly Wants Retailers to 'Be In On It'

A group of civic organizations in the City of Brotherly Love recently launched an ambitious Web site that they hope will attract more retailers to Philadelphia. Called Be In On it, the site is operated by the Philadelphia Retail Marketing Alliance, an entity with representatives from the city government, chamber of commerce, the convention and visitor's bureau and other groups.

Especially interesting (and entertaining) are some strong testimonial videos by representatives from major chains touting the city. Simon Doonan, Barneys New York's creative director, says when his chain opened up a Co-op store Center City in April it was "long overdue." "If you're not going to Philly regularly, then you're not groovy," he said.

Ed Goldberg, a Macy's senior vice president, said: "It's a really great place to do business because there's a vibrancy and an energy here today." Said Rebecca Matthias, co-founder and president of Destination Maternity: "Philadelphia, and downtown Philadelphia, is a must for retailers because there's such great traffic, and you can't beat the location."

The site also offers potential retailers a lot of practical information about entering Philadelphia. It highlights retail-friendly neighborhoods in Philadelphia. There is a list of retail brokers that can help potential tenants find space. The site also reports the city's demographic information.

One function of Be In On It that would make it especially easy for retailers to enter the city is a section that allows stores to look for available space by street number, neighborhood or zip code. For example, a Rittenhouse Square search comes up with 24 available spaces in a range of square feet, complete with broker contacts.

Philadelphia isn't the only city to proactively attempt to attract retailers. Every year at its annual convention in Las Vegas, the International Council of Shopping Centers hosts dozens of municipalities trying to attract stores. But Be In On It is certainly one of the most information-packed and entertaining resources out there in a time when the retail industry needs all of the help it can get.