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‘Tis the season to avoid shopping scams | Morning Newsletter

And, 2021 in Philly in toon form.

Dennis Creedon shows a sheet of stamps that are presumed to be fake.
Dennis Creedon shows a sheet of stamps that are presumed to be fake.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

Online shopping scams are on the rise, so today we’re bringing you a story about the latest eye-popping fraud numbers.

Kerith caught up with our reporter Stephanie Farr about her delightful story on the holiday hijinks at Kindy’s.

And as a treat, we have highly amusing cartoon holiday cards weird enough for 2021 in Philly.

Doing anything fun for the holidays? Let us know.

— Ashley Hoffman (@_AshleyHoffman,

While the internet has always been the swinging hot spot where you can encounter a new royal pal who needs your bank account number, it’s getting worse. People are inundated with suspicious marketing on Facebook and Instagram for things like nonexistent vehicles and one of the most popular grifts — stamps that, yes, are probably fake.

Reports of online purchase scams consumers sent to the Better Business Bureau:

🚩 9,050 in 2019

🚩 17,942 in 2020

🚩 16,892 projected by the end of 2021

What you can do to avoid fraudsters:

🕵️ Google the company name with words like scam or complaint and see what turns up, and do some digging on

Keep reading for more from our reporter Christian Hetrick on the growing online scam problem.

What you should know today

  1. As cases of COVID-19 spike, Philadelphia restaurants and food businesses have begun shutting down temporarily.

  2. Thieves are stealing checks from blue USPS collection boxes across the city that add up to thousands of dollars.

  3. COVID-19 may have claimed the lives of people who never even tested positive for the virus.

  4. Enjoy this collection of cartoon “holiday cards” that capture the weird year. (Our favorite is at the bottom of this newsletter.)

  5. A local high school teacher says schools need to teach students about Black leaders so that a new generation of leaders can cause “good trouble.”

  6. When the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Santa had to quarantine, the librarian stepped into his boots.

  7. Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

Inside The Inquirer with Stephanie Farr

This week we caught up with our reporter Stephanie Farr. Stephanie’s “We The People” stories often take a more human-centered and lighthearted approach. Her latest, chronicling the mystique of Kindy’s Christmas Factory Outlet in South Philly, is worth spending some time with.

We asked Stephanie to give us the details on Kindy’s, its place among other Philly oddities, and where she’s going next.

From the outside, Kindy’s isn’t a place one would normally think of to get into the holiday spirit. What makes this a place regulars go back to?

For many people in the Philly region, going to Kindy’s is a tradition, and perhaps there’s no time of year we feel called to carry on traditions more than the holidays. A lot of people I talked to had memories of going to Kindy’s with their parents and grandparents as kids, and now they bring their children and grandchildren to the store. For others who didn’t grow up going to Kindy’s, like me, it offers a totally unique shopping experience in a time when a lot of stores feel the same. At Kindy’s there’s no heat, no pretensions, and no telling what you might find.

You first touched on Kindy’s last year in a hilarious Twitter thread. Have your thoughts on Kindy’s changed since?

Like a fine wine, my feelings for Kindy’s have only strengthened with time. I first heard about it last holiday season from my neighbor. I’d passed by the building before, but, like many others, I always assumed it was abandoned. Walking up the loading dock ramp entrance for the first time, I felt like I was going into somewhere I didn’t belong, like I was going behind the scenes of Christmas itself. Learning more about Kindy’s history from Richard and Judy Kinderman, and hearing customers’ fond and funny memories of the store, has only made it more endearing. I feel like Kindy’s is the kind of place that couldn’t exist anywhere other than Philly, and those are my favorite kinds of places.

Among other known Philadelphia oddities, where does Kindy’s rank?

This is a tough one! I mean, it doesn’t have a giant colon or a book bound in human skin like the Mütter Museum, and there are no urban legends that it was ever home to a mystic cult, like the Cave of Kelpius. But I do think it deserves to rank in Philly’s long list of weird and wondrous places. It’s more than a store — it’s an entire experience. I’d definitely put it on my bucket list of places to visit in Philly to get a real sense of the city and its grit.

What are you working on next?

As part of my We the People series, about the people who make the Philly region extraordinary, I’m profiling the man who heads the construction of the 25-foot wooden phoenix that’s set on fire at the Phoenixville Firebird Festival every year. He’s a native of Denmark, a musician who can throat sing, and an industrious builder who’s installed a small wood stove inside of his van. After that, I’ll be working on my annual round-up of the weirdest stories that happened in the Philly area this year. Like Kindy’s, Philly is a weird place, and I love that about this city.

Follow Stephanie Farr on Twitter @FarFarrAway

Pop Quiz

What famous, frequently shenanigans-adjacent actor was involved in a mysterious courtesy tow case that Kerith talked about in a recent newsletter? Hint: He was in these movies 🚰 👦, 👰 🎤, and ✂️ 💎.

Find out the answer here.