Philadelphia is made up of many different neighborhoods, and the one I spend most of my time in is Fishtown. Here you can find one of my favorite boutiques in the city: Two Percent To Glory.
Owned by Sarah Anderson, this shop houses a collection of vintage clothing and accessories, displayed around the store on fixtures that have been handmade by Sarah herself. The first time I walked in to Two Percent To Glory, I was so inspired by the way it was decorated and merchandised. Classic tunes play throughout, and the disco ball hanging upon entry makes for a modern day 70’s vibe. Sarah is a natural beauty, with long blonde locks and a captivating energy. With her intriguing collection of merchandise, it would only make sense that Sarah would hold just as much intrigue. The store has so much character that it leaves you asking yourself, “How did she make this happen?!” I had to find out, so I asked Sarah a few questions to let us in on her story.
Where are you from and what brought you to Philly?
I grew up in a small town in Iowa. It sounds overly romantic, but being raised in an environment that was tight knit and closed, in a way, necessitated daydreaming and thoughts of exploring beyond that to which I was exposed, while simultaneously providing a solid foundation to safely do so. I also blame and exalt Jim Henson. I think I knew I wanted to live on Sesame Street but didn’t realize it had an actual geographic location until Muppets take Manhattan. After studying at NYU, I came to Penn and spent the next decade spending time between the two cities, as well as traveling, living, and working many places in between. Philadelphia and Iowa also share a similar quality in that they seem to comfortably anticipate and welcome your return–my last to Philly was three years ago. The murmurings of what was happening then have since amplified–now, more than ever before, is a great time to be in Philadelphia. There is a cultural renaissance that is real and palpable happening here right now. The amalgamation of all of that geography and experience, though, evinces nothing of it, except for the truth in that old country adage: “Don’t rise above your raising.” That’s the real way about it.
What inspired you to open Two Percent to Glory?
Two Percent to Glory is literal invention bred by necessity–a kind of happy accident. I studied apparel design (at FIT) while working in fashion public relations in New York City and began sourcing inspiration pieces for different projects, including my own line. A summer spent in Iowa during this time exacerbated the scouring–I spent a lot of time at church basement sales, eating pie and driving to bizarre auctions in the country. The result was an organically growing collection of all kinds of wild things, beyond textiles. When I arrived in Philadelphia, I was doing freelance stylist work, finding my way. My mother advised: “You’ve been finding yourself for years, find a real job.” Feasible but no dice. Instead, I accidentally found a retail space and rented it on the spot. I outfitted the space as a giant closet, utilized it as a work space, and brought everything collected across the country, making now habitual stops along the way. Then, I began answering random knocks on the window by opening the door. The early supporters of the store proved to be most interesting part of the equation. I have a sometimes overweening desire to gather information, on all levels. People’s somewhat willing participation in the transference of energy through these storied–tried, tested, and true–things built a kind of like-minded coalition of procurement. Ultimately, I have a passion for vintage but a more extreme one for the story and its continuation.
What is your favorite part about living in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia, save all of the comparisons, is a completely unique city. It’s a real place full of real people–which has its advantages and detriments. Philadelphia levels the playing field in a no nonsense kind of way which inspires a certain kind of appreciation. As interesting is being priced out of some cities, creative pursuits can be actualized here. Cliche maybe, but Philly is big small town. It’s an eating town with an incredible music scene, burgeoning artistic endeavors, and is full of the best people–if you are lucky enough to have found them. There is an enormous sense of community here that other places seemingly lack, even if you go out of your way to avoid it. You can only be a stranger here for so long until they either hoist you on their shoulders…or fire you.
You have an amazing collection of things for sale in your store. Where do you acquire most of them?
I suppose it’s rooted in where I am from, but I have spent a great deal of time driving around. The store has provided a consumate purpose in that course. No matter my plan or where I end up, my entire existence revolves around the search. I am constantly wandering about, with some direction–thrifting, going to sales and auctions, finding strange tucked away spots–and, the best part: chatting with all kinds of people in between to put it all together. It also helps that I am completely unable to sit still.
The way you have the store decorated is amazing. Have you always had a love for interior design?
Thank you–that’s so nice to hear! I had never considered the importance of interior spaces until I realized that I was actually capable of creating somewhere I wanted to be. If inspiration is all around us, it just makes sense to bring it indoors–real life dioramas. Everything in the store has come from drawings of the mind, salvaged materials, and a hammer or two. Executing physical ideas is not only empowering but also allows for a natural evolution in the design of the space–almost like a forever shifting installation. It keeps things interesting.
Where do you look for inspiration, or what one thing inspires you the most?
I remember telling my father once when I was little that I was bored. His before-the-next beat response was “That’s impossible.” And, I never considered boredom or the mention of it an option again. If being curious is the most important human quality, I am extremely lucky, even if that luck borders on sometimes fault. I have to know, so whether it’s a conversation, an old matchbook, a museum exhibition, a lovely meal, or just looking up, I am inspired by engaging. I would also rather hang out with people who know more than me. I love to break it down, but I have heard my stories a few times more than most. I want to orientate my life to absorb as much as possible.
Describe your personal style.
Although I am an aesthetic idealist, I generally think of dressing from the inside out–the way something feels against your body and literally frames a mood or experience. I am inspired by streamlined Scandinavian sensibilities-monochrome and labeless, interesting yet classic shapes and beautiful fabrication-with one or two out elements. However, I appreciate the ridiculous, in all forms, and clothing operates as a hopeful extension of what you’re about. For me, it’s addition by subtraction–simultaneous indulged extravagance and restraint…visually, I arrive at a utilitarian and comfortably layered 70’s playboy meets hobo meets ghetto glam.
If you could have grown up in any decade, what would it have been?
Dusty gold bent angles of the 70’s. I would have liked to have had a quasi of-age dusk onset dirty martini in a gilded field, channeling Studio 54 Halston, extremely high heels in hand.
What kind of music were you listening to growing up and what’s your favorite right now?
I feel the way about new music as I do about new fiction: Topically, I’m interested, but there is too much from the past I have yet to discover and digest. My dad listened to old country records which I didn’t necessarily appreciate until after I thought them embarrassing. And, my grandmother was a music teacher which informed my ears by her constantly playing the piano, composing cassettes of tunes for my practicing dance routines near the garden, and listening to a small radio I now have in my kitchen–always channeling classical, opera, or jazz. She could also hum and whistle, simultaneously, in harmony and play anything we recounted from listening afar, by ear. We poured through a catalog of records every holiday and summer spent at her house. It’s not necessarily cool, but I have a special place for Perry Como in my heart. Also, I come from a basketball coaching family, and growing up, my brothers went to basketball camps–which was exotic travel in those times–and brought home mix tapes. I’ve been told I have a pretty deep knowledge of old school hip hop and obscure rap. Everything else was happenstance exposure by friends’ parents or popular radio, of which there were three stations, and I knew every song by heart. As for music now, I like what’s good, and I generally only know what it is when I hear it. Luckily, I have friends who are really into music, their opinions, and sharing. Safely, my likes are categorized by folk or rock; otherwise, it’s a bit off and of another era, like scores from old Italian movies.
What is your all-time favorite trend?
Well, love and body suits. Let’s be honest, Michele and the infinity mirror at Skate West in third grade didn’t lie–that red lace up body suit, tucked into super frosted denim high waisteds was pretty darn exciting! Ultimate truths sought: People don’t change. I still love a body suit. And, it would be sad to exclude the forever passion: I have yet to meet a caftan that didn’t go home with me.
What does being “free” mean to you?
Self awareness and mindfulness which hopefully translates into goodness. My dad says, “If you’re able, you’re obligated.”
If you live in Philly, or are ever here for a visit, be sure to make a stop at Two Percent To Glory! Talking to Sarah, you’ll probably learn a thing or two you didn’t know before stepping inside.
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