Nothing about Commonwealth Press is conventional.
The screen printing business that owner Dan Rugh and his wife started in their basement over a decade ago has continued to grow as one of the modern staples of Pittsburgh culture. Locally inspired t-shirts, tote bags, stickers, cozies, among other products, have been available in the original shop on the South Side’s East Carson Street for years. When employees aren’t printing the custom graphics that now include partnerships with the Pirates and Andy Warhol Museum, they are skateboarding in the half of the huge production warehouse on Wharton Street that includes wall-to-wall quarter pipes.
Now Commonwealth Press plans to extend their reach in the region with the announcement of a new shop opening in Mt. Lebanon. The new store will be located on Washington Road, in the corner space which Koolkat Designs occupied prior to their recent move to the old Rollier’s building on McFarland Road.
Rugh, who has lived in Mt.Lebanon for roughly two years with his wife and children, is not only excited about the convenience of walking to work, but also the area with other small business owners and what it can mean for future collaborations.
“I love that little street,” he says of Washington Road, the main business corridor in Lebo. “It seems like the kind of walking neighborhood that I would want to be part of if I owned a business, which I do, so I am,” he cracks.
“Being able to own a shop in the neighborhood where my kids are growing up—the walkability—(plus) all the new blood that is moving in. It really opened my eyes to something I had no idea was going on in that area.”
It’s certainly a different scene than the South Side, but Rugh sees that as an advantage and opportunity to reach customers that are otherwise unable to check out their products. Not looking to clone the original store, he hopes that the new location can become something uniquely its own—including an in-house skate shop featuring only locally produced skateboarding goods.
“I’ve heard for years that people love our work, but rarely make it to the South Side. Even though all of our work is available [online], there is still something legit about walking into a real spot and digging through racks or piles of posters,” he adds. “I just want to meet and work with the people and businesses I live near and feel that’s the center point of a solid community.”
What’s made Commonwealth Press so successful are the qualities that make it so inherently Pittsburgh: fierce pride, independence, a love of community and a commitment to quality work. With no specific opening date or unveiling in mind, keep an eye out for a series of Commonwealth Press events as the space comes together in what Rugh calls a Grand, Grander, Grandest opening. What’s that? An unconventional opening?
Follow their progress on Instagram.