Heirloom Superfoods Market owners. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Heirloom Superfood Market officially opened its doors to the public today. Located at the foot of the 31st Street Bridge in the eastern end of the Strip District, the store offers locally sourced health foods and a daily lunch menu (sweet potato, quinoa and black bean chili, for example). The plan is to also host community events focused on holistic wellness.

“The shop is a much-needed addition of hard-to-find, clean food items that are not otherwise accessible in this neighborhood,” said Naomi Homison, one of the Market’s several lead organizers. 

Outside Heirloom Superfood Market on Penn Avenue on their first day in business. Photo by Tracy Certo.

Although the Strip itself has plenty of fresh food for sale, the region encompassing the edge of the Strip District and Lower Lawrenceville is often described as a food desert since it lacks access to nutritious, affordable food.

Homison, who has lived in the Strip for the past six years, said growing residential population in the neighborhood made these nutrition needs even more critical.

She said the shop will focus on foods and home products that are ethically produced. That means non-dairy, gluten-free and as local as possible.

Products available now include organic vegetables, fresh pasta, bulk grains, ice cream, juice from Pittsburgh Juice Company and ground beef patties from Pitts Burgher Highland Farms.

In addition to household cleaning products, there are also natural shampoos, vitamins and oils such as coconut and hemp.

Beyond giving shelf space to like-minded brands, Heirloom Market will also serve as an incubator for local entrepreneurs.

Homison explained that in the course of planning the market, which was announced last winter, they met many small-scale merchants struggling to break into the food industry.

Groceries for sale at Heirloom Market in Strip. Photo by Tracy Certo.

“A lot of these small businesses weren’t formalized, so they couldn’t sell outside of like a farmer’s market or a pop-up scenario,” she says. Working in a health department-approved kitchen will now allow them to sell at Heirloom and also wholesale to larger distributors. 

“We provide co-working space, a commercial kitchen, a strong network and many other benefits for local growers and makers from micro-businesses just making the leap from hobby to more established Pittsburgh brands,” says Heirloom’s Creative Director Anne Marie Ellison Miller.

Already, the staff have successfully incubated “Frontier Cultures,” a medicinal tonic company. Working with the Heirloom team over the past 18 months, the company is now fully certified with the FDA and the health department.

Frontier Cultures, Homison says, “accomplished that through setting up as a resident in the kitchen downstairs.”

The market is also planning a variety of community events focused on holistic health, including a wellness fair later in the summer. Heirloom is open when their produce is the freshest, they say. Hours are Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.