Reading Terminal Market is a haven for great local Philadelphia Food. All the best spots in Philadelphia are represented, from roast pork sandwiches at DiNic’s to fresh Peking Duck at Sang Kee and the market chooses vary carefully which stores are going to be represented.
The stands at Reading Terminal Market do not change often, but when they do it is a significant process to decide what the new store will be. Just by looking at the available application online for renting space at the Market it is clear that it is not an easy process. Amaris, the shift manager at Mueller’s Chocolate Co. in the market said “I’ve been working here a little more than a year and… the stores mostly stay the same.” She said that she had seen a couple of stores change, but for the most part the stores remain constant. She talked about how places like DiNic’s, the Amish BBQ place (The Rib Stand), The produce sections; they all basically remained constant.
In the operation guidelines of Reading Terminal Market it says that if one was trying to apply to open a shop “general preference shall be given to growers and purveyors of local and regional produce.” Basically they want the market to stay as local as possible, which is understandable given what the market stands for. On there application it also expressly states that if you are attempting to rent space at the Market: stores that sell jewelry, clothing and other non-foods, as well as personal services and souvenirs, are unlikely to get approved for a space.
Walking around the market from the early 2000s to today it is very clear that while some stores have been replaced, the core establishments have remained constant. Places like Sang Kee, or The Rib Stand. have been in the Market forever and will likely remain there for years to come. Dienner’s Bar-B-Q Chicken, a local staple has been in the Market since the 80s when the the Market began it’s major revitalization.
The obvious lack of diversification in this last decade shows that, while it is not impossible to open your own stand at Reading Terminal Market, it would be incredibly difficult. The established stands are very established, and the one or two stands that aren’t get switched with stores that are equally unsuccessful.
The lesson to be taken from all of this is that it is not an easy undertaking to open your own shop at Reading Terminal Market, mostly because the shops there are more or less set. The ones that are successful are well known and remain successful by being staples in the Market. This isn’t a bad thing however, if something isn’t broke in general there is no point in fixing it and 90 percent of the available space is already leased. The Market is a well oiled machine with over 100 vendors and the perfect ratio of fishmongers, Amish food locations, chocolate and duck to satisfy any craving, and while the stores that sell gift cards and commemorative Jim Kenney bobble-heads rotate, these aren’t the stores that add to the Markets value.