Bag yourself a designer piece of Philadelphia

The Center City District has been hanging beautiful banners around town for about 20 years now. When they're taken off display, most cannot be reused. Now they're finding second life as carry-all bags.

May 10, 2011 5:40:59 AM PDT
You can spend thousands on a designer handbag and it won't be unique.

But a program right here in Philadelphia lets you own a unique tote bag, called a "Banner Bag" for about $20.

The Center City District has been hanging beautiful banners around town for about 20 years now. When they're taken off display, most cannot be reused. For a long time, those "retired" banners sat in a warehouse.

Now they're finding second life as carry-all bags. Kelly Farrelly of the Center City District says she came up with the idea thanks to her own love of unique handbags. She enlisted Baker Industries of Kensington to sew the banners into bags.

Baker is what's know as a workforce development program, taking people on parole, or with a history of substance abuse, or homelessness, and training them to be dependable, skilled workers. In the program, they earn minimum wage.

In its 20-year history, Baker has moved an average of 62 clients a year into the greater workforce. President Turk Thacher hopes this partnership with the Center City District will lead to more sewing-related opportunities, perhaps even reviving Philadelphia's once-dominant role in America's garment industry.

For now, it's banner bags. You can find them for sale at about $20.00 each at these locations:
* Portfolio at The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Broad and Cherry Streets
* Pennsylvania General Store at Reading Terminal Market
* Big Green Earth on Washington Square
* Open House - 107 S. 13th Street in Center City
* Café Cret, 16th and Ben Franklin Parkway

Suburban locations are in the works.