1616 Walnut St., Philadelphia
For Dana Bank, life is like a box of chocolates. “When I was looking for a home for my store,” says Bank, “I saw this adorable little chocolate shop. I told my broker, ‘I want something like that.’?” So when the 2008 recession swallowed the chocolatier, Bank crammed into the nook on 1616 Walnut St.
Photographs by Peter Chin
TownHome is an exquisite confection of charms, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings in every flavor. They fill 258 square feet on Philadelphia’s premier shopping street. “Yeah, it’s tiny,” Bank says with a shrug. “But it’s me. I’m always changing it up.” And in the TownHome box, you never know what you’re going to get.
STERLING SILVER LININGS
Bank grew up in an upscale Philadelphia suburb and was a high school classmate of actor Bradley Cooper. She named her store after an age-old Philly expression: “In my childhood, whenever my parents would head into the city, they’d say, ‘I’m going in-town.’?” And then Bank added the word home to the name for, well, hominess. “I mean, we’re not exactly a town house,” she explains. Bank doesn’t even have a storefront: When she closes for the day, she places a tableful of business cards behind her glass door. Word of mouth does the rest. And inside TownHome, words are everywhere. The shop is Philadelphia’s exclusive purveyor of designer Heather B. Moore’s line of gold and sterling charms. Bank brings new meaning to signature brand: Moore etches her bracelets and pendants with hand-stamped letters, words, and even replicas of customers’ or loved ones’ autographs.
After years of doing publicity and guest relations in the city’s restaurants, Bank decided to use language a tad differently. “In that world I learned everyone has a story,” she says. “So I wanted my store to tell it.” Moore’s typed wonders hang beside the customized nameplates and monograms of Jennifer Zeuner, who works in silver and gold vermeil. “TownHome is all about the personalization of luxury,” Bank says, “whether the luxury costs $100 or…” She pauses. “More.”
TABLE FOR ONE
Yet in this store, less is more. Bank’s office, hidden behind the back wall, measures 3 feet by 10 feet. She doesn’t even have space for a restroom. “But that just increases the intimacy of the experience,” Bank says. Still, she knew she had to tuck in a refrigerator, which doubles as a countertop from which she serves water and wine. “It’s the hostess in me,” she says. A client can sip in the store’s one chair—made of glittery Lucite—and eye the 18k gold and sterling bracelets of Jeanine Payer, a San Francisco designer who also specializes in literary and personalized engravings. Adds Bank, “She grew up loving tiny dollhouses.” Surprised?
BLUE JEAN BABY
Despite the store’s finery, Bank herself dresses down. “It’s jeans for me, always,” she says. “And always a bit of gold on me somewhere.” She hates clutter (at TownHome, it’s not an option) and wants shoppers to feel at home, not overwhelmed. “I am an odd bird in the industry,” she says. Bank didn’t study design in school; she’s not an artiste. “I’m all about the hospitality,” Bank adds. After a decade in guest relations, she wanted a different type of guest. “I didn’t necessarily choose jewelry,” she says. “It was jewelry that chose me.”
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