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the interior of love, Pittsburgh's Mount Washington store

New Neighbor in the District: love, Pittsburgh

Tue, Apr 10, 2018

Written by: Seth Culp-Ressler

When Kelly Sanders and Monica Yope met last year, the pair had no idea they’d soon be business partners. They did, however, quickly connect on one central idea — despite Pittsburgh’s many Steel City-focused souvenir shops, there weren’t any focusing on the talented artists and makers based in the area. The two decided to fix that shortcoming.

A few months later, in July 2017, love, Pittsburgh officially opened its doors in Mount Washington. The store boasted a lineup of products from more than forty local creators, everything from candles and cups to shirts and spices. Don’t expect to find the typical Pittsburgh hallmarks on the shelves, though, as love, Pittsburgh celebrates the city in a different way.

“Thankfully not everybody just wants Steelers and Pirates and Penguins garb,” Sanders said. “There’s a place for all of that, but we don’t offer any of it. Because we’re not selling any licensed goods made overseas, everything is here and local.”

In the nine months since their opening, the roster of makers and artists has ballooned to more than eighty. By the end of the year they were ready to look at how love, Pittsburgh could continue to grow in 2018. Near the top of the list was a desire for a second location. When an opportunity arose to fill a storefront at 805 Liberty Avenue, in the heart of the Cultural District, the pair quickly jumped on board. It was the perfect chance to expand to a new area — and a new audience.

“We just think Downtown itself is such a great fit for love, Pittsburgh,” Yope said. “We do get people who are tourists … people coming in for business travel, for conferences or just for visiting the city for vacation. But then also just the huge amount of people we can access just being Downtown for people commuting to work everyday and living in the city as well.”

Having a presence in Downtown Pittsburgh is more than just an opportunity to reach more customers, though. For the two native Pittsburghers, it’s a strong reminder for how the city has changed. Sanders, specifically, recalls shopping Downtown with friends when she was in eighth grade and being wary of some areas of the city.

“I remember Liberty Avenue kinda feeling a little scary but exciting,” Sanders explained. “And it was pretty sketchy back then. And then to now fast forward so many years later — I mean, geez, thirty some years later — and now I have a store on Liberty. It, to me, is like coming full circle. It makes my heart so happy. I love it.”

Of course, with butcher paper covering the windows and paint drying on the walls, the Liberty Avenue storefront isn’t quite ready yet. Still, with the progress thus far Yope and Sanders feel ahead of the game for their official opening day of May 4, just in time for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Those looking to get a sneak peak of the space will be able to stop by about a week earlier at the April 27 Gallery Crawl.

In the end, the expansion of love, Pittsburgh means an expansion of Pittsburgh’s creative economy. For Yope and Sanders that may be the most fulfilling piece of it all.

“We’re just so excited to have this opportunity to support all of the makers that we’re buying from,” Yope said. “I mean, that’s been this huge, warm, fuzzy feeling.”

Tags:
  • Cultural District
  • love Pittsburgh
  • new neighbor
  • shop
  • liberty avenue