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The Baltimore Avenue Dollar Stroll returns on Thursday, bringing an evening of deals and fun to the West Philly corridor filled with one of the city’s most diverse collections of local businesses, many of them family-owned.
Proprietors are excited for the festival’s return after two years away, even if post-pandemic issues mean some of the deals cost a bit more than the namesake price point.
“This is good for the neighborhood, and a comeback for the businesses,” said Yunfeng Xu, owner of Chili Garden. The Chinese restaurant near 47th Street has been part of the promotion since 2018, and will offer $1 dan dan noodles to the hoped-for crowds.
It’s the first time participating in person for Alif Brew & Mini Mart near 45th, where stroll-ers will find $5 injera wraps and a thirst for community connection.
“We’re so happy to see that people are coming out,” said Mebruka Kane, one of several siblings who run the Ethiopian cafe-bodega. “It’s great for the community, it’s great for businesses, and we like to be able to share our tradition.”
Started by the University City District in 2010, the neighborhood-wide event was designed to “bring in a larger audience to learn what locals already know — that Baltimore Avenue is a great place to eat, drink, and shop,” said UCD spokesperson Chris Richman. The fest also features live music and kids’ activities.
Thousands of people usually attend the fest, which went virtual in 2020 and 2021. It’ll take place twice this year — from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, and again on Sept. 15.
The Dollar Stroll’s reach isn’t limited to Baltimore Avenue, noted Stefani Threet, owner of Ceramic Concept. Her shop stocks ceramic ware from local artists, especially women and people of color, but will be selling small plants and merch on Thursday to encourage people to return during regular hours.
“It’s a great opportunity that brings tons of folks from the greater West Philly area and beyond,” Threet said.
The event has always marketed itself as the place for dollar deals. But as costs inflated and supply chain issues arose, the University City District removed its requirement that every business offer at least one $1 item. Some $3 and $5 deals are now on the menu, too.
“We listened to our business partners who said it was more difficult each year to provide value for $1,” Richman said. “The last thing we want is for participating businesses to feel a financial strain after the struggles they’ve endured since the start of the pandemic.”
Planning to attend? Check the full list here, and find some tips below to get the most bang for your buck.
If you only want to spend a dollar
Try Chili Garden’s dan dan noodles, a slice of pizza from Fiesta, or a taco from Loco Pez.
If you want something to drink
Dahlak Paradise will have $1 Miller High Lifes and $3 honey-infused shots, among other food items like $3 Ye’misir Injera rolls and $5 Ethio-cheesesteaks. Renata’s is putting out $3 citywides and $5.50 margaritas.
If you’re craving a sweet treat
Lil Pop Shop/Weckerly’s will be selling $1 mini pops and ice cream sandwiches, and Amira’s Delites will have $1 cookies and $3 cupcakes.
If you’re a budding plant parent
Ceramic Concept will have 2-inch plants available for $3 apiece (and a collection of regular-price pots to house them). Greensgrow West is offering a variety of types and sizes of plants for $1, $3, and $5, as well as children’s books and reusable tote bags.
If you’re bringing the kids along
44th and Baltimore will house the HMS activity zone, where kids can stop by Stacy’s Face Painting before making their own button or pin with the University City Arts League.
If you’re just there for the free music
Start at the 50th Street Triangle and see the Dollar Bill Brass Band performing until 7:30, then head to the 48th Street Block Party where The Big Push will be playing to close out the evening.