The new PG&H featuring local makers just opened Downtown. Photo by TH Carlisle for NEXTpittsburgh.

The days of the massive department store are long gone. Long live the pop-up shop.

On Oct. 17, a new experimental store specializing in artisanal furniture and homeware will open in Downtown Pittsburgh. The store is PG&H, and it’s the latest push to bring retail back to downtown Pittsburgh.

The plan is to run the store for one year and feature a rotating gallery of local and regional designers. The inaugural class of makers includes Coded Clay ceramics, Blak Rust handmade textiles and a range of wallpapers designed by local artist Ashley Cecil.

“PG&H will also be an experiential site, hosting demonstrations and how-to sessions, workshops for makers and opportunities for makers to meet with clients to undertake custom work commissions,” the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership announced.

Along with home goods and furniture, the space will include a coffee bar featuring the local brand Redhawk Coffee. Visitors can also expect hands-on sessions and Q&As with local designers and artists. These events and the in-house coffee service are meant to give the space a more social vibe than the typical furniture store.

But the real goal goes further: “Building and scaling people’s businesses to create more jobs, that’s the core of this project,” says Mike McAllister, project/construction manager of PG&H and co-founder of Epic Development.

As McAllister explained to NEXTpittsburgh, several years ago he noticed a distinct gap in Pittsburgh’s furniture sector. There were plenty of high-end outlets, and IKEA was only a short drive away. But “there was no middle ground,” he says, “and there certainly wasn’t a space for local products.”

This new space, which McAllister says is being built “for maximum functionality and flexibility,” is one step toward solving that problem.

The project is a partnership between the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Bridgeway Capital and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and is aimed at jumpstarting the retail economy of Downtown Pittsburgh, which has lost many of its iconic, mid-century department stores in the last several decades.

“We are continuing to see local makers having great success with Downtown locations,” says Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “We are really looking forward to bringing this unique retail venue to Downtown and expect it to be a destination that Pittsburghers, as well as our many visitors, will be eager to check out.”

PG&H will be managed day-to-day by Monica Yope and Kelly Sanders, owners of the artisanal craft shop love, Pittsburgh. It’s located at 536 Smithfield Street and will be open Wednesday through Monday, 11 am to 7 pm.

Bill O'Toole

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