New Deustchtown retail store hopes to sell more than just clothing to community residents

By: Nick Eustis

In 1907, Allegheny City was annexed by the City of Pittsburgh, becoming what we now commonly know as the Northside. It was a move that reshaped the entire region. Now, an annex of a different variety is looking to shake up the Northside once more.

Annex, a new lifestyle store, will open its doors to the neighborhood this weekend. Annex was founded by longtime Northside residents, Lauren Bradley and Jason Farahi, who wanted to be a part of their neighborhood’s redevelopment.

“I’ve lived in the Northside for almost ten years now,” Farahi said. “I’ve seen the slow
progression of the Northside, and it’s always been a progression that excited me. I didn’t want to open up a store anywhere else other than here.”

While touring North America, Bradley and Farahi stumbled upon a series of stores that would provide inspiration for Annex. “We were in Toronto years ago and we walked in one of these stores. It was a two-story store,” said Farahi. “They had a coffee bar upstairs, and a bunch of cool stuff downstairs. They were playing good music and it smelled amazing in there. And I thought, ‘it’d be so cool to open a shop like this.’”

Bradley and Fahari also wanted a creative work environment. Something they believe is lacking in their current professional environments.“It’s been a great outlet for creativity. She and I are very creative people, but we’re unable to use it on a daily basis,” Farahi said.

They are aiming to break the mold of traditional retail stores. The pair hopes to provide Pittsburgh with a shopping experience that cannot be found elsewhere in the city.

“There’s a lot of cool boutique, independent stores that we like to go to, but we wanted to be different, against the grain,” Farahi said.

Photo by Jason Farahi.

When conceptualizing Annex, Bradley and Farahi wanted to create a modern, non-traditional retail space while also harkening back to an old tradition.

“With Jason purchasing the building, and us living upstairs, our whole thought was — simpler times — where shopkeepers owned the building, lived in it and ran their business on the bottom,” Bradley said.

Annex will primarily offer clothing, but will also offer a variety of items for the home as well. “It’s going to be probably 60 to 70 percent clothing, and then home goods and plants. During the holidays, we’ll bring in a lot more giftable items rather than just clothing,” Farahi said. “Like a one-stop shop for unique items.”

Farahi wanted to ensure customers can find items that they might not elsewhere in the city, so he and Bradley have sourced items from brands not commonly found in Pittsburgh.

“There are brands that we have followed and liked over the past years, things you can’t really get in Pittsburgh,” Farahi said.

Some of these brands include Topo, a Colorado-based company specializing in outdoor apparel, and United by Blue, a Philadelphia-based clothing company that uses part of its proceeds to help clean polluted waterways.

But the retail side of Annex is only part of the plan, according to Bradley and Farahi.
“We don’t want this to just be a retail store, just to shop,” Farahi said. “We want people to come in and hang out, talk to neighbors, and on the weekends we’d like to have people come in and play some music, serve some drinks.”

Bradley and Farahi ultimately hope for Annex to become a “town square” of sorts, a gathering place for the Northside community to connect and hang out, while also providing a unique experience for shoppers.

“Since we live upstairs, it’s kind of an extension of our house,” Farahi said. “We’d like to open this up as our house –and also a business –to our neighbors in the Northside. I don’t care if they spend zero dollars here as long as people come in and meet each other.”

Annex, opens on Saturday, April 28 and is located at 522 E. Ohio St. For more information on the grand opening, visit the store’s Facebook page.

 

 

This article was last updated on Friday, April 27 at 10:22 a.m.