My visit to the Philly Apparel Co location in Warminster, on a brisk but sunny Saturday, was well worth the drive from my office in Philadelphia. At the “Indoor Shoppers Village” known locally as the 263 Marketplace, there was quite a lot going on. Outside as well as inside. Before making my way inside I spent an hour strolling the large parking lot enjoying the free Motorcycle and car Show. There was music, free popcorn, a moon bounce, face painting, and more. The Warminster Police and Fire Departments were on hand showing off their state of the art crime fighting and fire prevention equipment. The U.S. Marines were in attendance collecting Toys for Tots. The atmosphere was carnival-like and the people were all extremely friendly.
Once inside, it was instantly clear why a friend had strongly recommended I take a leisurable ride to this very inimitable indoor marketplace to experience Philly Apparel Company first-hand. I was greeted with a friendly smile and a hearty hello from owner Joe Gallagher. The brick façade gave the appearance of a Philly street corner, rather than the corner space of a suburban indoor marketplace. I was impressed with the large variety of clothing and designs. Joe told me he has difficulty keeping the “I’m not loud, I’m from Philly” and “Fabulous and from Philly” shirts in stock. The “Philly University – School of Hard Knocks” is equally popular. No surprise there. He explained no matter the season, you can always purchase a heavy pullover hoodie, or a fitted tank top. “We will get a customer in December who needs a tank top for a trip to Arizona, or an order for a hoodie in August from someone going on vacation to Maine”, Joe tells me. “So we like to be able to accommodate all our customers year-round. And there is definitely no mistaking the theme. PHILLY. It appears in one form or another on everything they sell.
As I questioned Joe about his company, which he started in 2008, his entrepreneurial spirit was quite evident. Growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, he explained how his father would always encourage him to be self-sufficient. Starting with a News Paper route, and then eventually to selling Soft Pretzels on Roosevelt Boulevard near the old Sears building. But like many of the young boys of his neighborhood, he would spend the next 10 years of his life bouncing from one minimum wage job to another. After graduating Cardinal Dougherty High School, in the midst of the Iran Hostage Crisis, Joe’s patriotism kicked in. “I felt a strong urge to go fight for my country, and I was tired of hanging –out on the street corner.” So he joined the U.S. Marines. He tells me it was the wisest choice he has ever made. Afterwards, while working in the Debt Collection Industry, he came up with the idea for Philly Apparel Co. At first he created a few t-shirts just for his personal use. But before long he was being approached by strangers who would inquire about where he had purchased the t-shirt he was wearing. “I joke that we should have named the company, “Hey. Where did you get that shirt?” So many people began to ask, that one day it hit him like a Dave Schultz punch. “I think I should try to start my own business.” Despite having just met him, after only 10 minutes Joe and I were talking and laughing as if we had known each other from the ol’neighborhood. But he was from Lawncrest and I was Fox Chase kid. To say he is a very likable guy would be an understatement. He is extremely proud of the fact he has taught himself everything he knows to this point about the apparel business. Including how to build and manage an e-Commerce website. “One of the most gratifying things about being a business owner is that I am guaranteed to learn at least one new thing every day about this business” Joe told me. One thing he has learned is that people from Philly are passionate about being from Philly. “When people come in, they want to talk about where they grew up, what school they went to, the bars they hung in. I love it.” Another reason why people are fond of Philly Apparel Co.? You may not believe this but not everyone in Philly is a sports fan. So now anyone can show their love for Philly. And you do not have to purchase clothing from one of Philadelphia’
For Philly Apparel Company, being in the 263 Marketplace is just one of the many – and often daily – well calculated steps Joe has taken towards bringing his business to national prominence. From the very beginning, being meticulous, methodical, and slightly cautious has been an integral part of his business plan. One thing is for sure. Joe’s confidence level is extremely high. To go along with the success of their website and the 263 Marketplace location, his clothing is already being sold in the largest mall in the United States. The King of Prussia Mall. In a store called Nestology. Research is also underway to possibly open an In-Line Store inside the Philadelphia International Airport early 2012. From the time Joe began “building his dream” in the basement of his home, he has often reminded himself – and anyone else that will listen.…”Success is marathon. Not a sprint.” His ultimate goal? To grow Philly Apparel Company into one of the most popular shopping destinations in the Philadelphia area. After talking to him for just a short period of time, I strongly believe he will succeed. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to put on my cool, new PHILLY hoodie, walk to my corner Pub to watch the Eagles, and see just how many “Hey. Where did you get that Hoodie?” questions I can answer. I’m betting there will be more than a few.
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Joe Gallagher, please call Philly Apparel Company at 251-262-2573 or e-mail at joegallagher@
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Philly Apparel Company opened in 2008 by two Philadelphia natives determined to give the people of Philadelphia Pa. a more fashionable way to show their love for their hometown. By selling quality, casual clothing adorned with various 'PHILLY' designs, they are helping to poudly promote the City of Brotherly Love.