Northern Exposure

After a lifetime in Columbia SC, a new neighbor takes a chance on East Falls.

Brandy Doby lived her whole life in Columbia, SC until about three months ago. Out of the blue, one of her lifelong friends asked her if she was up for an adventure – a move north to Philly. Eight weeks later, she’d packed up and was on the road north with Mollie and another BFF, Beth. “It was the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she said. “I’m normally a very anxious person and home has always been a constant source of comfort for me.”

Even when she traveled solo “all over the country” as a teenager, the idea of home really gave her the strength to overcome her fears. So picking up and moving to East Falls was a huge risk and, so far, has been a huge reward for the new resident of Midvale Ave.

“I love it here,” she said, “the neighbors have all been so nice. It’s made the transition so much easier.” Whether she’s hanging out at Murphy’s or Trolley Car Cafe or just walking along the river, she’s found plenty of friendly people who’ve been very welcoming. “It reminds me of Columbia that way,” she adds. Although Columbia’s population is far larger, there are neighborhoods like East Falls that have the same small-town feel.


And that’s not the only taste of home for Brandy. Turns out that Columbia is also very urban and green. “There are plenty of outdoor activities, hiking, biking, kayaking – it’s even got the same proximity to the mountains and the beach as we do here.”

Another local connection that’s made life easier – John Howie, owner of Frequency Tattoo, helped Brandy and her friends find their current apartment. “My friend Mollie knew John from her days in college in Philly. When she mentioned she was moving here for her grad work at U of P, John really kept an eye out for places we could rent.”

Turns out John’s brother Jason had just the spot – his house on Midvale had plenty of rooms to spare. “It’s been really great – a perfect fit. Mollie and Beth are really close to the train so their commutes to school are a snap and of course we’re close to everything.”

One big difference from her Columbia days? “The weather’s warmer there.” Winters rarely get colder than 20 degrees and snow is practically unknown. “We’ll get a slight dusting sometimes but it’s really rare.”

Here’s hoping Brandy doesn’t have to find out the meaning of Nor’Easter her first winter here, but if she does she might be in some trouble. During the move north, she accidentally donated her winter clothing – D’oh! On the plus side, her day job at The Warming Store in Manayunk is the perfect gig to make up for it. (She’s even got some suggestions for the rest of us in case we get another snowpocalypse this year! Check out her Holiday Gift Guide at the end of this post.)


PS A little bit more about Brandy in our lightning-round East Falls Q&A:

Biggest surprise

How hard it is here to buy beer and wine. “Wait you can’t just grab wine at the pharmacy?”

What’s missing

Another restaurant or maybe a sandwich place – preferably one that’s open all day.

Biggest challenge

The hills and places that are cash only

Local favorites

Roast turkey hoagie from Majors, the EF Farmers Market, and the Beer Garden. And I can’t forget the Turf Burger at Murphy’s (Editor’s note: Hell yeah!)


My cat’s named Wolvie. His full name is Wolverine, because that’s my favorite marvel character. He also has a similar personality. My roommate Beth has a dog named “L.” (Not sure why she named him this.)

More love for the Falls

I love how passionate people are here. There’s great community spirit. They really want to get involved. I’ll be doing volunteering myself soon.

Brandy’s Holiday Gift Guide
Need some ideas to add to your gift list? Working for The Warming Store, I’ve had a chance to try out a few of our more popular items.

Grabber Safety Flasher Light System. Since moving to Philadelphia I’ve been biking and walking everywhere and safety is a premium. These highly visible Safety Flasher contains five LED lights and allows a choice of seven different flashing patterns. The Safety Flasher is water-resistant and features two red and amber colored shatter resistant lens covers.

Bear Hands Company. Whether it’s Bear Hats or Bear Mittens, this line of fleece and thinsulate-lined “bear wear” apparel will make it fun for your kids to keep warm.

Serta Electric Foot Warmer. Made of 100% polyester angel fleece, this blanket comes with a removable heat controller so you can choose from the four heat settings or use it as a simple blanket. This foot warming blanket even comes with a 20 x 35-inch foot pocket to maximize the cozy.

Marmot Urban Hauler Canvas BagI’m always looking for an eco-friendly angle, even when I’m shopping for groceries. This pack features padded shoulder straps that can be converted into carrying handles. It offers more than 1700 cubic inches of space that can haul up to 28 liters of groceries from the farmer’s market or the corner store.

For more info check out our website or stop into The Warming Store (3791 Main St. in Manayunk) for other gift ideas.

2018 UPDATE: The Warming Store received a nod from Anderson Cooper, who credited their “electric clothing” for helping him get thru brutal temperatures for this year’s New Years parade in NYC.




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