Crawl helps Carnegie business district grow, organizers say
Business is booming in Carnegie.
The business district received national attention last month when Bakn was featured on the Food Network’s “Ginormous Food” show, and a host of other businesses have sprung up in recent years.
The growing focus on Carnegie’s business district also is helped by events such as Carnegie Crawl, organizers say.
The concept for the crawl was born six years ago when Larry Scott of Modern Mercantile PGH and Bonita Farinelli of Eccentricity Designs had the idea to do a late-night, open-house event. It’s held the second Friday of each month between May and October.
When Joanne Letcher, executive director of the Carnegie Community Development Corp. got involved, the crawl came to fruition.
“Our goal is to draw attention to Downtown Carnegie and to promote Carnegie as a fun, family-friendly safe place to hangout,” Letcher said.
Over 15 businesses, most of which are located on East Main Street, are open late allowing attendees to shop after hours. Some of the participating merchants include the children’s boutique Made 4, Modern Mercantile PGH, Puhlman’s Flower Shoppe, and the fine paper shop More Than Words, as well as plenty of the restaurants like Bakn, The Flying Squirrel ice cream and vintage toy shop, and Café Delhi. Papa J’s, Apis Mead & Winery, and Riley’s Pour House all offer live music well into the night.
“The crawl attracts a number of people who are pleasantly surprised about what we have to offer,” Carnegie Mayor Jack Kobistek said. “We have a lot of really cool small mom-and-pop shops and with our really cool, old-fashioned walkable business district, people feel like they are stepping into a place that they would visit when on vacation.”
Melanie Luke, owner of The Flying Squirrel, says she sees a magnificent jump in activity on crawl night, doubling her staff and ice cream to handle the crowds. “I wish it could be like this every week, but I’ll take it once a month.”
She says small business districts always have had an uphill battle with competition of big box stores, as did the 2004 flood in Carnegie. But, she said, the crawl is helping people get back to shopping small and finding some fun and quirky items along the way.
“I’m so grateful for the community support and the people that attend,” Luke said. “It means our lights stay on, the doors stay open, and that we have fresh inventory that continues to arrive.”
Similar to The Flying Squirrel owner Luke, Scott who owns Modern Mercantile with his partner George Arnold, says the community gets so excited for the crawl they start asking as early as February and March when the year’s crawl dates will be released.
“People love the crawl and it’s fun to see how much it’s grown,” Scott said.
When Arnold and Scott opened up the business almost five years ago, they did so to make change, and they have definitely done so by bringing the crawl to life with the support of the community and other businesses.
New to the crawl this year is Carl the Snail, the mascot of Carnegie. A sign of Carl appears in the window of each participating crawl location and you can see a Carl out and about in the streets during the event.
The crawl not only attracts residents of Carnegie and surrounding communities such as Mt. Lebanon and Collier who are looking for a unique shopping and dining experience, but also the potential for new business.
Letcher says she constantly receives calls from people who attend a crawl and ask what business space is available.
The next Carnegie Crawl will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. July 14. For details, go to visitcarnegie.com.
Sarah Sudar is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.