Owned and operated by three generations of Staley family women, The Picket Fence has swathed women, children, and infants in designer apparel and accessories for the past 10 years. The shop’s selection of sweaters was named as one of the best in town by CBS Pittsburgh in an article that asserted that “this shop will become one of your favorite places to frequent when you are craving something new for your wardrobe.” The fashion-savvy Staley women select items from lines such as Orla Kiely, Lauren Moffatt, and Alexis Bittar. Children’s items run under labels including Oilily and Lilly Pulitzer. Thanks to a number of home accessories and gifts that enhance the shopping experience, an examiner.com columnist dubbed The Picket Fence as “the ultimate Shadyside fashion boutique.” Additionally, a variety of children’s toys offer whippersnappers respite from stressful make-believe games of applying for imaginary car loans.
Though they've been open for only three years, Backstage Guitars has already amassed an impressive collection of equipment and instruments from renowned brands such as Zildjian, Ludwig, Fulltone, and Remo at their two locations. An amiable and skilled staff can educate visitors on the stash of harmonic accoutrements on the store floor or lead them through private lessons in drums, guitar, and guitar-related instruments such as the ukulele or a field-hockey stick wrapped in spaghetti. Backstage's Rock Band Academy helps musicians to develop an even deeper appreciation of their chosen instrument, creating a band for similarly inclined students and culminating in a live set at Hard Rock Cafe.
Sunlight streams in through the large windows of Kiln-N-Time's studio, where amateur artists paint canvases and throw pottery in a celebration of self expression. For a simple craft project, guests can grab a pre-made ceramic vase, mug, or bowl and embellish it with sassy polka dots, a coffee-complementing hue, or text of the answer to life's ultimate question. More in-depth projects see artists building their pottery from scratch with a lump of clay and pottery wheels or painting flowers and beach landscapes during BYOB sessions. The studio can also perform restoration and conservation work on art pieces or create custom tiles for homes.
Painters, graphic artists, and architects have found the tools of their trade at the one-stop Top Notch Art Centre since 1971. A floor-to-ceiling picture window beckons passersby on Craig Street, where shade trees shelter a block of historic buildings and small businesses, including a rare bookshop and a cobbler for broken dreams. Inside, the staff leads 2-D artists toward the right brush for watercolor or oil from their selection of Winsor Newtons, or printmaking papers from Arches Cover and BFK Rives lines. The store also makes an effort to seek out artisanal brands, such as Gamblin Artists Oils and Mt. Vision Handmade Pastels. Bookbinders can pick up screw posts and glue, and drafters can run their fingers over delicate, smooth vellum and curl them around the curves and angles of nine types of stylus guides. Past the tall, narrow aisles, a framing shop encases completed works of art in glass and caution tape to prepare them for display.
Divertido keeps shelves stocked with inventive gifts and accessories with which to accent living quarters or lavish party hosts. Western-motif handbags emblazoned with old-timey cowboys ($26) stow away wallets, spectacles, and miniature lassos to quell the chaos of squirrel flash mobs. Flip and tumble produce bags ($12.95 for a set of five) make for useful market-going companions, and a coaster set touting the images of vibrantly hued birds ($11.95) wards off unsightly moisture rings on wooden coffee tables and glass-plated coffee carriers. Scribble thank-you notes or gussy up in-class note-passing sessions with Pistachio Press greeting cards festooned with cutesy illustrations and sleek modern designs ($4.50).