By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just in time for the busy holiday shopping season, there is new life for a legendary center city retail space.

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The department store chain Century 21 is opening to the public at 8th and Market Streets, where Strawbridge & Clothier operated for decades.

Century 21’s “soft” opening brought out the curious to see its high-end merchandise, at a discount, in the former Strawbridge’s store.

(Photo by Steve Tawa)

(Photo by Steve Tawa)


One of the inaugural shoppers, Babette, said she hoped it will bring a little more style to this city.

“I’m excited to have something different in Philadelphia,” she said today.  “I’m here to see if it compares to the one in New York City.”

What was her view of retailing in Philadelphia?

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“Boring — pretty substandard.”

The Philadelphia store is the company’s ninth, but its first outside the New York metro area.

Another shopper, Darryl, said he had shopped Century 21 as its flagship New York store.

“I have a sportcoat, a bunch of socks, and basic briefs,” he noted.

He was pleased that we noted his colorful socks.

“They are.  Men can accent only a few ways: socks and ties.  Either go bold or go home,” he advised.

One store worker noted that Philadelphia shoppers know brands, and now fashionistas will get value at the new Century 21 store.

Century 21 “status members” were invited to the store through Sunday.  The store will be closed this Monday. Then, after a ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, it’ll be open to the public at 12:30pm.

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