Summer 2018


When you think of Pittsburgh shopping destinations, Oakland isn’t often at the top of the list. It doesn’t have a high-end mall or boutique-lined streets. But tucked among the pubs, pizza shops and ethnic food places, you’ll find a handful of locally owned shops, some with an international flair.

Whimsy on Fifth

3402 Fifth Ave., Oakland

Rebecca Suter has an ear for shoppers’ needs and an eye for fashion. She considers both when curating women’s clothing, accessories and small gift items for her boutique, Whimsy on Fifth.

Situated across the street from Carlow University, it’s been around since February 2017. Ms. Suter bought it from the original owner last summer and reopened in September. Since then, she’s been phasing out its one-of-a-kind resale pieces to make room for collections she picked up at buyers’ markets in Atlanta. She also stocks things from local brands, such as beer-inspired candles by Brewed 2 Burn in West Mifflin and handbags made in Monroeville from repurposed upholstery fabrics.

So far, Whimsy on Fifth has been particularly popular with women in their 30s or older who work nearby. It’s also common for college students to stop in for something to wear to a formal event or night out. As the store’s inventory continues to grow, Ms. Suter is planning to carry more lines that include sizes small through 2X.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Just ask.

“I like to know who you’re shopping for and what’s the occasion,” Ms. Suter says. “I enjoy the scavenger hunt and being a personal shopper with them.”

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 412-586-4224

Irish Design Center

303 S. Craig St., Oakland

No need to jet to Ireland to find authentic jewelry, clothing or even food from the Emerald Isle. The Irish Design Center has made a home for them in the heart of Oakland for 40 years.

Earlier this year, owner/manager Paul Carey announced his retirement and turned the business over to Maura Krushinski, one of the founders of the Pittsburgh Irish Festival.

“Our effort is to try to maintain that vision of his and keep up with those things that are coming out of Ireland and Scotland,” she says. “But there are a lot of contemporary, fun, whimsical areas to be covered, as well, which is what I want to add.”

She travels to markets in Dublin as well as to Irish merchant shows in Chicago, Philadelphia and Secaucus, N.J., to find the right mix of traditional and modern selections. Keep an eye out for more options for men, children and brides. She plans to hold more events in the shop to educate the public about the cultural significance and history behind what’s for sale.

“The reality with brick and mortar now is it has to be an adventure,” Ms. Krushinski says. “We want to make sure that folks know not just the beauty of the items but what they mean.”

Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays. 412-682-6125

Snowlion Imports

201 S. Craig St., Oakland

Ornate statues, colorful garments and the light scent of incense put shoppers at Snowlion Imports in a Nepali state of mind.

For 16 years, owner Nima Habjanetz has made the store a snapshot of her native country, with many pieces brought here from Nepal. She complements them with things she finds at trade shows in New York.

The shop is known for its regal semiprecious-stone jewelry, most of which is handmade in Nepal. Also popular is the Sherpa Adventure Gear clothing line by her brother. The brand donates 50 cents to charities in the Himalayan region for each piece sold.

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. 412-687-5680

Sara Bauknecht: or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.