It’s the type of idea that makes you sit up, smack yourself on the forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
How about we put a gift shop . . . in Mt. Washington . . . right where all the tourists go.
“It’s insane to me there isn’t one here yet,” says Monica Yope, Mt. Washington resident and co-owner of love, Pittsburgh, which opens July 4 at the corner of Virginia and Shiloh.
The shop is a four-minute walk from the Mon Incline and at the end of the bustling Shiloh Street business corridor, home to Shiloh Grill, Grandview Bakery, The Summit, and about a dozen other local businesses and restaurants.
“We’ve been trying to get a gift shop up here for years,” says Talia Piazza, VP of the Mt. Washington CDC.
“Over a dozen,” adds fellow CDC board member, Greg Panza.
But this isn’t just any gift shop; it’s a Pittsburgh gift shop. Not the kind with bootleg shirts that insult Cleveland, but rather a shop that sells products exclusively made in Pittsburgh.
For example, guests to love, Pittsburgh will be able to snag pierogi pillows made by Allentown’s Commonwealth Press; handcrafted soaps and beauty products from Wilkinsburg’s Lovett Sundries; vintage-inspired Pittsburgh t-shirts from Make Believe; and letterpressed stationery from Lawrenceville’s Sapling Press.
“People have been calling it a souvenir shop, and there’s this ‘Made in China’ aspect to that. We’re calling it a ‘gift shop’ because everything is made with love in Pittsburgh,” says co-owner, Kelly Sanders.
Yope is the owner of Pop Craft, a pop-up craft workshop popular at local bars and breweries. Last year, she met Sanders at a creative industries networking event hosted by the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Sanders had just moved back from New York City and in addition to her day job ran toomanysparkles, which sells upcycled cards, notebooks, and art from found fabrics.
The two of them hit it off—“It’s like we’re long-lost sisters,” says Yope—and in March, over coffee at nearby Black Forge, Yope sprung the idea on Sanders, who didn’t hesitate to join with her.
love, Pittsburgh launched a Kickstarter campaign June 1 to seek an initial round of funding to help pay for retail stock. The $5,000 goal was met within hours, and the pair is currently working to establish stretch goals.
According to the Port Authority, 1,500 people take the Mon Incline on an average weekday, with twice that many riders on Saturdays. Before long, tourist and locals alike who visit the Mount will be able to take a piece of Pittsburgh home with them.
“I’m sure it was just a matter of time, whether we [opened a gift shop] or somebody else did,” says Yope.