Over the next few months, the public will get to experience the revamped Bok space.
While folks are familiar with the rooftop bar crested on the former Bok vocational school, South Philly residents may not realize that the repurposed building, a recipient of the the 2016 Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance Award, is home to dozens of artistries, activities and other businesses — from boxing lessons and guitar repairs to skincare and chiropractics.
However, on Saturday, Sept. 8, the public can witness and experience the gamut of merchants currently taking over the former Philadelphia School District space during the building’s Made@BOK Fall Market.
“The building has been around in its new life for a few years now,” said Melissa Tilley, the event’s co-host, organizer and operations manager of skincare company Franklin and Whitman — one of the building’s businesses. “We love the idea of getting some of us together who are interested in making new things and meeting the public and spreading the word here.”
Ten of the Bok’s tenants, including Bevy of Objects, Remark Glass and Two Persons Coffee, will participate in the market, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., as the event aims to not only support these local businesses but to also potentially attract new merchants and vendors from around the region.
In fact, the reimagination of this six-story structure was recently featured in a July issue of The New York Times, which says prospective tenants from New York have reached out showing interest in moving into Bok — a 340,000 square foot property located at 1901 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148.
“The idea (of the market) came from wanting to collaborate with others in the building and spread the word about what we’re doing here and give the neighborhood and surrounding potential clients the opportunity to come and see what’s for sale and potentially purchase and gather ideas,” Tilley said.
The September market is actually the fourth event of its kind at Bok, which initially kicked off last autumn. Aside from perusing through handmade products and dabbling in delicious food, like South Philly Smokhaus’ BBQ cuisine, attendees will get to mingle with entrepreneurs and other originators of the immediate area, as 80 percent of Bok’s current tenants are residents of South Philly, according to its website.
While the market mostly features merchants, the building also houses several charitable organizations, as Franklin and Whitman, which will participate in the event, donates five percent of its sales to dog rescue organizations.
“I feel like the Bok building is bursting at the seams with creativity and hardworking people,” Tilley said. “And I think the event a great way to gather some of them together and showcase their creations.”
The building plans on making these markets a regular event, as other Made at Bok Markets are currently scheduled for Small Business Saturdays in the fall and winter, including Nov. 24 and Dec. 15.
Since many of the Bok business are by appointment only, the markets are a prime opportunity for public engagement, unveiling hidden flairs of local creators.
“I just think we’d love for the markets to continue to grow,” Tilley said, “spreading more awareness about the craftsmanship and creativity that’s coming out of this building and out of South Philly.”