This One-Mile Stretch Of Philadelphia Is Home To 55 Woman-Owned Businesses

By Julia Terruso

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Today 35% of the businesses on East Passyunk Avenue are owned by women. Many of the older businesses have been passed from mother to daughter, like “Mia Philadelphia”, which has fitted prom-bound teenagers and bridesmaids for more than 30 years. Daughters also have started businesses alongside their mothers.

Pam Zenzola gets a lot of calls from people interested in opening businesses on East Passyunk Avenue. Her last four were from prospective owners of a brewery, a hair salon, a clothing store, and a butcher shop. All were women.

“I looked around and I said, ‘Wow, we really do have a lot of women who own businesses here, and the interest has not slowed down,'” said Zenzola, who heads the commercial corridor’s business improvement district.

At least 55 of the shops, salons, restaurants and other businesses on the one-mile-long stretch of the avenue from Federal to Broad Streets in South Philadelphia are run by women. That’s about 35 percent of the total, by Zenzola’s count, a much higher percentage than citywide, where 18.5 percent of businesses are owned by women, according to a recent census survey.

“I think women like to be their own boss,” said Carolyn Verdi, who has been in the wedding business for 28 years and has an accessories and dress shop on the avenue. “This is a good neighborhood, where I think there’s room for a lot of different dreams. …When I was little, you came down to the avenue for everything. I think it’s getting back to where it was.”

In the last 10 years, the avenue has gone through a reinvention, first with a restaurant revolution led in part by female owners and chefs, then with craft-makers ushering in a handmade retail trend, and now with liquor stores, distilleries and bottle shops. They join the long-standing boutiques and bridal salons that date back 30 or more years.

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