This holiday season, the question will not be what to get for loved ones, but where to get it.
The lineup of holiday shopping events this year is unparalleled in the city of Pittsburgh, with everything from fair-trade goods, to vintage Pittsburgh style pieces and handmade artistry from our favorite local vendors.
Not to mention, the city seems to be outdoing itself with more live musical performances, more meetings with Santa and more charity giving than ever before. Most areas of the city are offering free parking on November 29th in honor of Small Business Saturday (so no excuses, people).
Looking to score some sweet presents? Get out your calendars.
November 21st – December 23rd (Closed Thanksgiving Day)
The Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square is more theme park than pop-up shop. For its third year, the square will transform into a miniature village, complete with Alpine-style wooden chalets selling artisan products that exhibit global consciousness and explore cultural diversity. From one booth to the next, shoppers can find European honey and beeswax candles, Nepali wool hats and handbags, Irish ornaments, hand-crafted leather timepieces, and Australian blown glass. Vendors include Alpine Heritage, Himala Home, Wagman Designs, and work by Kathe Wohlfhart, as well as a new contribution from Yule Haus by Nola, who will be selling frankfurters, sweet crepes, strudel and much more. Don’t be afraid to go after dark! Every half hour the square puts on a song and light show. Santa is also available for photo ops at various times.
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Handmade Arcade is the be-all and end-all of local, homemade artistry. Inside the Convention Center, over 150 vendors showcase their handmade products that span categories from clothing to woodworking, housewares, stationery, and “geekery” (interpret how you will). Handmade Arcade was recently recognized by BuzzFeed as one of the top 35 indie craft fairs in the world. Not only can you shop, but the fair also features an on-site “Hands-on Handmade” section, where shoppers can drop in for short (or even day-long) hands-on demonstrations of how artists work their craft. Past Hands-on demonstrators have included ModCloth, the FiberArts Guild of Pittsburgh and Continuum Dance Theater. Live music will be provided by Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Goodtime Band, as well as DJs Pandemic, Bad Seed and The Garment District. A full list of vendors can be found here.
Mattress Factory Lobby
December 13th – December 22nd (during regular museum hours)
There are great pieces to be found in Pittsburgh’s museum gift shops, and the Mattress Factory makes it all the easier this year by setting up shop right in their main lobby. This is their first-ever holiday market, and all pieces for sale are curated by the Mattress Factory Shop. Stop in to purchase affordable original artwork, jewelry ceramics, and sculpture. Perfect for the artists on your shopping list.
Sweetwater Center for the Arts
Through December 7th
Sweetwater’s holiday mART is celebrating its 20th year, and inviting Pittsburghers to party with them in all sorts of capacities. In addition to the holiday mART, which is free, shoppers can join the center for a preview party on the 29th, happy hours on December 1st through 4th, and a brunch on the 7th. Sweetwater’s mART features jewelry, ceramics, fiber arts, two-dimensional artwork, and much more. Since Sweetwater is a nonprofit organization, all proceeds from the market go toward supporting art programs for youth and adults alike, as well as supporting participating artists.
2315 Wharton Street, Pittsburgh
2:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Hosted at the Commonwealth Press warehouse, this last-minute shopping opportunity is brought to you by our friends at our favorite South Side press and a couple of their closest indie artist buds. With beer and the super friends around, this market may be less shopping intense and more of a party, which we’re happy to be invited to. Vendors include strawberryluna, Everyday Balloons, Sapling Press, Amy Hamley and Alternate Histories. The Super Friends will also be accepting donations for Project Bundle Up and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
One Oxford Centre, Grant Street, 1st Floor Plaza
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Entrepreneuring Youth, a program helping middle and high school students launch successful careers in business, is setting up shop inside the Oxford Centre for its fourth year in a row. Students will display their handmade wares, including original art, clothing, jewelry, crafts and food. Come down to support over 30 teen entrepreneurs who are on the right track towards a solid economic future. They might even dish out some business advice while you shop.
831 W North Avenue
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
For this special pop-up shopping opportunity, our friends at Moop have teamed up with both Tugboat Printshop and local ceramics artist Reiko Yamamoto. For just a couple of hours, you can find sweet bags by Moop, Yamamoto’s beautiful ceramic dishes and Tugboat Printshop’s truly one-of-a-kind prints, all in one place. Something to be thankful for!
Hungry for more markets? We’re loaded with them. The Pittsburgh Glass Center hosts a holiday sale, as well as the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Also check out Small Press Pittsburgh’s Holiday Book Sale, Riverside Design Group’s annual holiday glass sale benefiting The Persad Center and Silver Eye Center for Photography’s second annual Book Market.
Places to Remember
The holidays are a great time to support local artists like Ashley Cecil via Etsy (we love her pillows) and entrepreneurs like Sandra Cadavid whose purses have caused a sensation in Pittsburgh and beyond.
Anytime is a good time to shop the fabulous museum stores in Pittsburgh, especially during the holidays. The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History’s gift store has modern household items (like the very cool clocks) along with capes and scarves and children’s gifts you won’t find elsewhere. The now expanded Warhol Museum Store makes gift-shopping a blast and there’s also the Children’s Museum gift store and the Carnegie Science Center, a feast for kids.
For brick and mortar versions of indie craft fairs, where you can find products by many of the local artists who sell their work at the holiday markets, visit small businesses such as Wildcard, Koolkat Designs and Boutique 208.
For the bookworm on your list, we suggest two new award-winning titles with local interest that are available at the Carnegie Museum of Art Design Store:
Just named to TIME Magazine‘s 2014 list of Best Photobooks is ABC Duane (Monacelli Press), a scrapbook memoir illustrated by the legendary Pittsburgh photographer, whose work is currently the subject of a major new exhibition at Carnegie Museum of Art. The first-of-its-kind photography exhibition—and the largest-ever presentation of the artist’s work—Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals is on view at the museum through February 16, 2015.
Another brand new local book, which documents the story of the restoration of an iconic downtown park, is Mellon Square: Discovering a Modern Masterpiece (Princeton Architectural Press). Written by Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy curator Susan Rademacher, the title has just been named to The American Society of Landscape Architects’ list of Top 10 Books of 2014. Discover the compelling story behind what it took to save this modern landscape during a public book launch, signing and reception taking place on Thursday, December 4th, at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m.
Other ideas? Season tickets at local theaters such as Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theatre, the New Hazlett Theater, Attack Theatre and PICT. Or tickets to the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh Opera or single tickets to performances at Bricolage or Barebones Productions.
Finally, there’s the gift of food and drink, from Wigle Whiskey (get their gift pack with recipes) to growlers from East End or any of the great craft beer makers, to Pittsburgh Popcorn and chocolates and candy from Mon Aimee.
Want the ultimate Small Business treasure map? Check out this new search option from WebKite that can find exactly what you’re looking for right inside the city. Filter your search for the perfect present within Pittsburgh’s small business community.