Beer Run

Published On June 9, 2011 | By Kate Magoc | Community

Before we all headed off to Detroit to rave for three days straight, I got to play beer Santa Claus and deliver 10 cases of Iron City beer to 10 local businesses who pretty much rock.  The businesses were chosen based on their affiliation with the arts whether by offering original design or providing the city with music in some way, shape, or form.  They are all very special small time establishments that are really bolstering the creative community of Pittsburgh.  Check ’em out, you’ll be sure to find some dope new threads and some new tunes to rock out to.
I approached the entrance of
One-Up Skate Shop, case of Iron City in tow, and the guys mostly just looked confused.  They’re faces read, “why is this girl carrying a case of beer and heading towards our store front?”  When I handed it over and told them it was a gift, the smiles broke out and they were mostly speechless.

One Up is one of Pittsburgh’s finest and most storied skate shops.  The store is 100% skateboard owned and operated, by the skaters for the skaters, a truism that shows in the stock they carry and the clientele they keep.  From Gravis footwear to Traffic decks with all the personality, One Up pretty much has anything and everything a skater would need to stay fly and ride like Ryan Sheckler or Paul Rodriguez.  The store is located at 1409 E. Carson St. on the Southside and they’re open 7 days a week.  If you skate…or even you don’t but like sweet kicks, you should stop thru, these guys are always there, chillin out and bein’ cool.

Blasfome’s store front was only half ready to be opened to the public when I traipsed in with the gifted case of Iron City in my arms.  The designers were welcoming and happy to see me; they didn’t even question my presence in their half-filled store front and were totally stoked when I told them I was just stopping by to bring them a case of Iron City.

Blasfome is a brand new store concept that just opened on the Southside.  They design like cool-headed demons, stretching the hip-hop/metal inspired aesthetic across the plains of skateboarding, wakeboarding, BMX and beyond.  All of the designs are very much inspired by tattoo culture, the urban music climate that is all kinds of hip, simultaneously serious and raucously fun.  They’ve collaborated with some of the most prominent folks in music and extreme sport design from Timebomb and One-Up to Kiss FM and Pittsburgh’s own DJ Bonics.  The shop is located at 1923 East Carson…stop thru, they’ve got a really awesome dog who hangs out like Dyrdek’s pal Meaty.


I interrupted a phone conversation at Shop 412, but Aaron Kinkela kindly put down the phone before he even saw that I came bearing the gift of beer.  He was super sweet and appreciative and let me run around the store snapping pics of the clean, crisp retail concept with my iPod.

Shop 412 is yet another urban design shop located on the Southside…apparently the hippest ‘hood in the city to shop.  Their signature 412 tees might be the coolest way to rep the Burgh without having to reach for a Steelers jersey or a Pirates cap.  Their stock has an urban skater edge but their designs differ from the above shops in that they’re all more sleek and modern looking.  They’ve got shoes up the wazoo and for a town that’s all black & gold, they certainly bring a colorful palette to 412 pride.  The shop is located in the Southside Works across the street from the Cheesecake Factory at 420 South 27th St.  Definitely a preferable alternative to the chain box stores it’s surrounded by.  Shop 412 brings style to the Burgh that is skater yet oh-so-sleek.


I entered Timebomb with the case of Iron City, to a frenzied display of workmanship between design maven Katie Maillis and owner Brian Brick.  They were all smiles for the gift of beer but that didn’t stop them from working their salesman charms and talking me into buying a Married to the Mob tee that has now become a wardrobe staple of mine.

Timebomb quite literally is the bomb.  They offer original design work with a graffiti inspired style that harkens back to graffiti’s birthplace of Brooklyn and blends it with the graff art seen all over our fair city.  They’ve got urban styles for dudes and some super cool stuff for dudettes, brands ranging from local cats Blasfome to Dope Couture with some stuff just for the ladies like Hellz Bellz, DXmepiece Designs and the aforementioned Married to the Mob.  They’re prints are kitschy and fun and say things that I probably shouldn’t print, things that may or may not be illegal in some circles..but that’s the fun head turning stuff, am I right or am I right?  The shop has been around for over a decade and they’re only getting bigger and more awesome.  Located at 200 S. Highland Ave in the area that likes to consider itself Shadyside when it’s pretty much East Lib, but the neighborhood matters not…just stop in, they’re fun people, I promise.


In the words of the great Penny Lane, “if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends,” 720 is that record store.  I approached the entrance with the case of beer and the cafe-front-end of the store had a handful of smiling faces.  They paid little mind to the case of beer until I said, ‘hey guys, I brought this for you because you’re awesome!’  The smiles doubled and thank you’s poured forth.

720 Records is a newer little record storefront in town, it previously resided in Squirrel Hill.  The first time I experienced this spot was to see Onra play live for a VIA monthly and when you get a producer as hip hop focused and funky as Onra, you’ve pretty much secured instant awesome status.  They’re one of the few remaining vinyl shops that have figured out a way to thrive in a realm of music that some claim to be dying.  Any DJ you talk to will proclaim that vinyl will never die and that 720 is one of the most awesome additions to this city since we acquired Sid Crosby.

The feel of the store is small, familial and intimate; the vinyl selection all quality, some older but just as much newer stuff is displayed prominently on the wall.  They also offer great music mags like The Fader and Wax Poetics; and vinyl-head shirts that say things like “I dig Pgh” and “Love the Beats Hate Your Lyrics.”  The shop is located at 4405 Butler St in Lawrencville.  I highly suggest stoppin’ by, grabbing a copy of The Fader and sipping on a latte while sittin’ by the window…cause yeah, they also serve espresso, it’s pretty much an all inclusive stay: music, reading, coffee, friends…perfection.


The artists at Drawing Room Tattoo Shop were so deep in their work, and also, kind of used to seeing me lately, that my presence, even with a case of beer in my arms was a little uneventful.  When I told them it was a gift, they perked up and abandoned their work for a photo-op, then promptly returned to their artistry.

Drawing Room is a solid go-to for all your tattooing needs because the staff aren’t just slapping pre-drawn, clichéd pictures on your body.  They are true artists who treat your skin like a canvas and want each design to be unique and also fit the personality of the person who will be rocking it for the rest of their life.  The shop itself is like an ode to old timey tattooing, the walls are decorated with pictures of circus ‘freaks’ representing tattoo history, origins that are ripe with originality.  The walls themselves are papered with a print that is reminiscent of burlesque shows, everything fits to an aesthetic that says, ‘hey, we’ve studied this shit, we know what we’re doing, and we really freaking love tattoos.’  It’s that kind of environment that would make a first timer comfortable with the indelible factor, and a veteran comfortable with the element of originality.  The shop is located at 4127 Butler St in Lawrenceville and opens at 1pm everyday but Sunday and Monday.  Now, go forth…and get inked.


I drove through the pouring rain to deliver a case to the guys at Jerry’s and I think they may have been the most excited out of anyone to see me as I entered the store looking like a drowned rat, case of Iron City in hand.  They thanked me again, and again as they began to open the case before I even took the picture.  “Let’s set it beside the Jack Daniels,” they agreed.  How very rock’n’ roll, I thought, as I snapped the picture with my iPod.

Jerry’s Records is hailed as a Pittsburgh treasure.  The shear volume of vinyl that exists in this space is epic in and of itself, but it is known nationally as one of the places to crate dig, having been dubbed top dog by Rolling Stone Magazine.  It is room after room after room of dusty vinyl that just begs to be picked up, examined, and lovingly placed onto a turntable, needle placed gently on it’s historic surface.  There is an implicate passion that you feel upon entering the store, the owners and shoppers alike are all bastions of the vinyl culture, keeping it going through whatever the music industry throws into the economy.  iPods…whatever, it’s all about the wax at Jerry’s and spending time in the store truly requires an entire day.  You may need to pack a lunch and just hang out by a turntable with a stack of whatever you find that looks interesting.  Shopping there requires the habits of a DJ, i.e. digging, listening, digging, listening…ad infinitum.  Jerry’s is located 2136 Murray Ave on the second floor of the building.  Put your DJ cap on and stop through.  They like to talk about music so come prepped for discursive music conversation.


Finding 222 Ormsby took a little trial and error on my part, and a handful of precarious text messages between Karim and I that almost ruined the surprise.  But I arrived, safely and these party animals, like the guys at Jerry’s, were ready to start drinking the beer warm and kick off a party on the spot.

222 Ormsby is a performance space that’s wild, brandless, and everything weird and interesting.  From the outside it looks like a house, sitting quaintly on a residential street in Mt. Oliver, wedged between one little town house and a stop sign on the corner.  Upon entrance, it’s stripped of it’s residential feel and offers up an eyeful of graffiti splayed over the as much of the walls as the crew and their graff writing friends could cover.  The paint job is the obvious charm of 222, each piece having been done by a local graff artist or just someone who the guys knew.  The walls, they say, have layers and layers of paint on them.  They repaint certain walls every year or so but hold on to some of the work that has stood the test of time and remained captivating.  They generally house punk or rock shows, the owners themselves being musicians of that ilk.  Partying is kind of their MO but music and art seem to be the catalyst for all the fun that occurs at the unique space.  The venue is located at 222 Ormsby…duh.  And you should check out their bookings, regardless of the genre, you’ll have mad amounts of amazing art to look at.  Part performance space, part graff gallery, win/win.


The guys at Head Board were probably the most confused with my presence.  I mean, I get it…who randomly delivers beer to strangers and stores she’s never shopped at?  I talked to them about the shop for a bit and gradually they realized that there was nothing but beer inside the Iron City box, and it was not gimmick but really just a token of appreciation.

Head Board offers yet more uniquely designed skateboards, skate shoes, and all other skate apparel.  If you haven’t noticed a trend here dear skateboarders, Pittsburgh’s got all kinds of places to buy unique and quality gear, patronize them, they’ll be good to you.  Head Board has been around since ’94 so they know what’s up in terms of brands with character.  They’ve been featured in Steez Magazine, and done such awesome skate oriented events as the Weird Shit Video Showing.  The space itself is clean, minimal and throws all the focus on the wall to your immediate right upon entrance where the dope skateboards are housed.  Check out the store at 2332 East Carson St.


I found the shopkeepers at Big Idea sitting at the entrance to the quiet store chatting lightly, surrounded by books and zines.  I introduced myself and plopped the case of beer down on the desk.  They looked at me, and then at one another, then back at me then at the case of beer, then back at each other.  “This is for you guys,” I said, attempting to break the confusion and domino-chain-stare-fest.

“Really?!” they exclaimed excitedly.  “We’ve got a meeting tonight, everyone is going to be so happy!”

Being the bearer of beer for the bookstore meeting, the English Literature major in me beamed with the pride.

Big Idea is a cooperative establishment that offers up a wide range of left leaning literature, anywhere from the groundbreaking theoretical media studies of Noam Chomsky to the working-class poetry of Thomas McGrath.  The store is all about aiding revolutions with the tool of literature. It’s a tiny two floor establishment that feels more cozy than claustrophobic.  The upstairs offers vinyl records and yet more literary pockets to explore.  Visit them and get your big idea on at 504 S. Millvale Ave. in Bloomfield.

Be sure to check back for next month’s Beer Run installment. We might show up at your door – who knows!?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *