Archive | May, 2013

Suspects sought for multiple store robberies in West Philly, elsewhere in the city

May 31, 2013

Last Friday, May 24, we reported about a robbery at Forman Mills at 48th and Market that happened that afternoon. There were four masked, armed suspects in that robbery. Today, police released information and surveillance photos and videos linking this robbery and group of robbers to a series of robberies (six so far) at various commercial properties in the city, dating back to April 19. The suspects in these robberies are still at large and police are asking for public’s assistance in identifying them.


Robbery at Little Caesar’s Pizza. (Photo via Philly Police Blog)

A few of the robberies were in West Philadelphia, including robberies at Little Caesar’s Pizza located at 5901 Lancaster Avenue on May 15 and at the Dollar General Store, 801 North 48th Street, on May 22.

For more information about the robberies, description of the suspects and surveillance videos, go to Philly Police Blog.

If you have any information about the robberies in West Philadelphia you are asked to contact the Southwest Police Detectives at 215-686-3183/3184.


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Auction, music, food & wine at UC Arts League’s Fundraiser this Saturday

May 31, 2013

auction2013-3Here’s a good chance to support the University City Arts League (UCAL). Their annual auction and dinner, “Spring Fling,” is this Saturday (June 1), 6-10 p.m. This year, the event is being held at the Hall of Flags, Houston Hall, University of Pennsylvania (3421 Spruce Street) and tickets are still available. The auction raises funds for children’s arts programs, summer camp scholarships and other programs and operational expenses. Tickets are $65 for one or $120 for two and you get access to silent and live auctions, open bar, dinner and live music.

The evening will be divided into two segments: a silent auction from 6 to 7:30 p.m. where an estimated 150 items and gift certificates will be available for bidding and a live auction, beginning at 8 p.m. The auctions include items from a cabin in Vermont to oriental rugs to an iPad to dinner at some of the city’s most popular restaurants.

Tickets can be purchased online at For more information, visit


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Four adorable Guinea Pigs available for adoption at Baltimore Pet Shoppe

May 30, 2013

Guinea pigs

Oolong, Matcha, Pekoe, and Chai are four adorable black and caramel colored male Guinea Pigs ready to be adopted. Oolong is the biggest boy, about 1 year old, and he is the leader of the pack. Matcha is the teenage brother, 6-12 months old, who is still trying to figure out if he wants to be a mature adult, or a rowdy youngster. Pekoe and Chai are the babies of the family, 2-6 months old, they are tiny and still learning the ropes on how to be good little piggies.

These poor little guys were surrendered to the ACCT Philly animal shelter and are now hanging out in their big, bright window enclosure at the Baltimore Pet Shoppe, greeting all the passersby with their chorus of squeaks, grunts and chatters. All four piggies are healthy and have silky, soft coats. They are friendly and inquisitive. They are available for adoption individually (adoption fee is $20 each) or in pairs, but with ACCT Philly’s Adopt-A-Buddy program, you pay only one fee, and the second adoptee is free of charge.

Guinea pigs do best when they have another of their kind to talk to and play with, so if you already have one at home, consider adopting a buddy. If you are interested in one of the babies, why not take an older role model to help him grow up?

Stop by Baltimore Pet Shoppe at 4532 Baltimore Ave any day to meet these carefree critters. Business hours are 10 am – 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 – 6 Saturday, and 11 – 6 Sunday. In most cases you can adopt and take home your new pet same day. As an added bonus, Baltimore Pet Shoppe offers a 15% discount off any purchases you make when you adopt a shelter pet.

If you have questions please call the Shoppe at 215-222-PETS (7387) or email

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More on Aspire, the new pharmacy on Locust near 43rd

May 30, 2013


Aspire Rx owner Hetal Chudasama. (Photo by Mike Lyons/West Philly Local)

A few months ago we wrote about the new independently owned pharmacy that opened right across the street from CVS on Locust Street near 43rd. The store’s location raised some eyebrows. So this week we decided to check back in to see how things were going at Aspire.

Aspire’s owner, Hetal Chudasama, knows better than most the risk she took in locating across the street from the big box behemoth. She managed CVS’s pharmacy for a few years and began working there in 2002.

“I’ve taken all of the things I’ve seen over the years and made them better,” Chudasama said.

While the pharmacists at CVS focus on quantity, a sort of churn-and-burn style of filling prescriptions, Chudasama slows the process of getting medication down to make sure patients get what they need.

“My number one thing is to talk to the patient and give them my time,” she said.

Aspire is one of a growing number of independently owned pharmacies popping up in small towns and big cities across the country. While in the 1970s and 1980s most pharmacies in the country were independently owned, the number started to nose-dive in the 1990s as big-big box stores like CVS and Rite Aid began to dominate the market. Even Wal-Mart and Target got into the pharmacy game as a way to get customers into the stores.

But independents are making a comeback, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. Reasons for the increase include a tough job market for retail pharmacists leading to more willing to take a chance on their own business.


Example of a blister pack. (Photo courtesy of Aspire Rx)

Chudasama offers the kind of personalized service that most independents do – but places like CVS don’t. Aspire delivers prescriptions for free. Chudasama also assembles medication in specially designed blister packages that group multiple medications by days of the week, making it much less likely that patients will not take all of their required pills. She also works closely with physicians. These are things that CVS pharmacists simply don’t have time to do, she says.

“I went to school to be a pharmacist, not to just stand and count pills,” said Chudasama.

Switching prescriptions from a big box pharmacy to Aspire is as easy as making a phone call. And if you stop by on a hot day, chances are good that you can get a cup of cold lemonade. You’ll have to pay for that at CVS.

Mike Lyons

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New pedestrian plaza to be installed at 48th and Baltimore

May 29, 2013


Rendering of the new Baltimore Avenue Pedestrian Plaza provided by University City District.

Many folks are probably wondering what is going on at 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue, so here’s what we learned: The three bumpouts now hugging the curbs of the intersection’s south side were the first phase in a new University City District project that’ll transform the glut asphalt into a pedestrianized plaza.

The second phase, which should start this week, will have stone barriers and terra-cotta style planters housing budding perennials installed around the bumpouts’ outer edges, serving as protection from oncoming traffic. A new crosswalk directly connecting the Gold Standard Café and the Calvary Center was also painted.

Once completed this spring, the plaza will shrink the vast, daunting gap of the 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue juncture, shortening crossing distances, improving pedestrian safety, slowing vehicle speed, and “better [knitting] together Baltimore Avenue,” UCD’s Seth Budick told West Philly Local. The organization partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and worked with the West Philly community to develop design plans, he said.

The local plaza development is one of two implemented by UCD, which received two grants under the City of Philadelphia’s recently-announced Pedestrian Plaza program that aims to convert excess street surface into usable pedestrian spaces. The first plaza, named Woodland Green, was finished last fall at 42nd Street and Woodland Ave.

– Annamarya Scaccia

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Cameras, other equipment (over $1000 worth) stolen from porch

May 29, 2013

This is an unfortunate incident that happened to a neighbor over Memorial Day weekend and a reminder to all neighbors to make sure you don’t leave any valuables, both money-wise and of personal value, on your porches. A neighbor, Mike, who lives on the 4400 block of Larchwood Ave reports that his camera bag with photo and video cameras and other equipment (all about $1200 worth) was stolen off his porch after he left it there by accident. Mike left his bag and some other items on their porch on Sunday night after he and his wife returned home from introducing their newborn baby to family. Photos and videos of the meeting were on the cameras.

The camera bag was stolen between 11:30 p.m. on Sunday and 3 p.m. on Monday when Mike discovered that it was missing: “I accidentally left some items on our front porch… Although most items were still there, someone stole my camera bag, complete with my Pentax K10D camera, Tamron AF18-250mm lens, external flash unit, and Kodak zi8 small handheld video camera. Also, miscellaneous batteries, 2 memory cards, a lens filter.”

Mike says that he filed a report with the police. “As you can imagine, we are upset about losing around $1200 worth of equipment. But we can’t replace photos and videos of our family meeting our baby,” he writes.

Update: The stolen cameras and lens are not very common, Mike adds, so if anyone sees them at a local resale, pawn or flea market, please call him 610-389-0985.


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