Where do you go for handcrafted local goods outside of the big craft fairs like Handmade Arcade, I Made It Market and the summer arts festivals? These Pittsburgh shops offer a great selection of locally made items from hundreds of crafters and artists.
These stores also serve their communities with classes and workshops, gallery exhibits, parties and public events.
From well-established artist hubs to fresh newcomers that truly embody the shop-small ethos, retailers in every corner of Pittsburgh are keeping the city’s craft scene alive.
The Shop at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Originally called the Arts and Crafts Center of Pittsburgh when it opened in 1945, The Shop at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts still sells work from artists who’ve been featured there since the early 1970s, says manager Tiffany Whitfield.
Offering work from 200 local artists, this Shadyside fixture is a destination for everything from handcrafted jewelry–Audra Azoury’s Steeltown pieces depicting Pittsburgh bridges and and the steel industry–to hand-blown glass from local glass artists such as Drew Hine. Other glass items from the Pittsburgh Glass Center are featured here and a large selection of ceramic pieces as well, many fired on-site at the center. Don’t miss Ed Zembruzuski’s stoneware or Keith Herchenroether’s ceramic face mugs, pictured above.
The stories behind the crafts at Koolkat Designs are as endearing as the wares. The 200 crafters featured in the uptown Mt. Lebanon shop range from teens to octogenarians. And the employees at Koolkat embody the generous spirit of Pittsburgh’s crafting community, sharing resources and stories and making every effort to support their fellow craft retailers.
Like many local shops, handmade jewelry is the big draw at Koolkat, but the crocheted pierogies and traffic cones, whimsical paper cut art and handmade purses are just as enchanting.
Society for Contemporary Craft in the Strip District
Quite possibly one of Pittsburgh’s first pop-up shops, the Society for Contemporary Craft began as a summer project for two University of Pittsburgh students in Verona back in the 1970s.
The Society moved to its Strip District location 26 years ago, with a studio and exhibit space that grew up around the retail store, says marketing manager Norah Guignon.
“We’re interested in offering a creative experience through craft, and focus on the connection between the brain and the hand,” Guignon says. Their gift store is a thing of beauty with stunning wood, glass, ceramic and other crafts from local crafters. It’s not to be missed and neither is their annual Out of Hand fundraiser event which features what could be the best auction in town, of hand-crafted goods.
A key player in the retail revitalization of Lawrenceville, WildCard sells handmade T-shirts, jewelry, stationery, gifts, bags, buttons and hand-picked items from small and locally-owned businesses.
Shaler native and Lawrenceville resident Rebecca Morris, who opened the store in 2009, keeps most merchandise under $50.
As local crafter Lynne Kropinak describes it, “WildCard is like the most amazing local craft show every day.” WildCard also hosts workshops for its artists to share their crafty skills with the community.
The Shop in East Liberty
With a curated collection of clean, modern pieces under $100, The Shop in East Liberty prides itself on making crafters’ work accessible to the masses. After earning her art history and arts management degrees and working in traditional galleries, shop owner Julia Reynolds saw a need to provide affordable handmade wares.
“We are working with handmade objects that make an impact in the home—something that would pop in an interior, an interesting print, jewelry that you might not find anywhere else,” Reynolds says.
While she was putting together her own home and spending time and money on Etsy, Reynolds decided to share with Pittsburghers the handmade items she loved.
This little Glenshaw gem specializes in custom jewelry designs and handcrafted gifts from local artists, like soy wax candles made from rescued wine bottles.
So Me owner Amy Klein McGinley also offers jewelry repair and cleaning along with ring-sizing and stone-setting in her on-site studio.
Located across from Heinz Hall on Sixth Avenue, Boutique 208 started as a Pittsburgh Pop Up Project, with the aim of enlivening empty storefronts.
The selection at this artist-run co-op includes hand-crafted baby and children’s items, Pittsburgh-themed merch, upcycled fashion and greeting cards and pottery.