Already home to a heavy metal coffee shop and metal-themed vegan restaurant, Pittsburgh’s newest record store should fit right in in Allentown.
Dusty Hanna, organizer of the annual Skull Fest punk music festival, will open Skull Records at 635 E. Warrington Ave. in mid-September.
Hanna is married to Elyse Hoffman, co-owner of vegetarian/vegan restaurant Onion Maiden, and Skull Records will be located next door. And while Hanna admits that he probably would have opened next to Onion Maiden wherever they were located, he acknowledges that Allentown “seems to be the neighborhood where the most interesting things are happening.”
Hanna says the store will have a well-curated selection of “punk, heavy metal and ’60s psych rock” records, mostly used. He also plans to release singles on his own Skull Records label.
If it sounds a bit like Polish Hill’s Cruel Noise Records, formerly Mind Cure Records, you’d be correct: Hanna is good friends with Mind Cure’s Michael Seamans as well as Cruel Noise owner John Villegas, who helps to organize Skull Fest with Hanna.
“I really don’t see it as competition,” says Hanna, noting the distance between the two shops and the size of Pittsburgh’s punk scene.
In addition to vinyl, Skull Records will sell vintage t-shirts, VHS tapes and rock and heavy metal magazines and zines: “anything strange and unusual that relates to rock music and horror movies,” he says.
They’ll find companions in the “strange and unusual” department when The Weeping Glass oddities store opens October 1 at 817 E. Warrington Ave., specializing in antiques, ephemera, and memento mori.
The Weeping Glass is the brainchild of Kelly Macabre Noir and Aaron Doctor aka Dr. Morose. The pair are behind Morose & Macabre’s Atrocity Exhibition, a “cavalcade of the beautiful and grotesque, brought to life by a cabaret of bizarre entertainers, artists and artisans” held annually at The Rex Theater.
Noir says she and Dr. Morose have traveled the country with their exhibition and made friends with dozens of national and international artists whose wares they will sell. “We have our finger on the pulse of every bizarre gamut that’s happening in Pittsburgh,” she says with a laugh.
Besides being ideally situated—Noir says it’s just over five minutes from Allentown to Downtown or her home in the South Hills—she cited the Hilltop Alliance’s rent abatement program as an impetus to move to the neighborhood, as well as the presence of “cool people already doing cool things.”
The Weeping Glass is next door to UniqueHome, a new antique store which is itself next to SuperMonkey Recordings. Across the street, longtime Italian restaurant Alla Famiglia is in the midst of expanding their dining room into the adjacent former Schwartz Market.
Despite the new additions, Allentown still has pressing needs. Family Dollar closed in early summer and Day La Soul, a small grocer planned for the corner of Warrington and Arlington, fell through even before it opened, leaving the neighborhood with only a small bodega and convenience store.
Siena Kane, Allentown Business District Manager at the Hilltop Alliance, says that her organization is working hard to bring a business that will provide fresh and healthy food options to the neighborhood. She adds that plans are underway for an Allentown free store along the lines of those in Wilkinsburg and Braddock.
Another Allentown business that recently closed its doors is Spool, a fabric shop and maker space. Co-owner Michelle Lancet, an Allentown native, calls the closing “bittersweet,” but says it was necessary given the time needed to run the retail space and the ever-changing demands she and co-owner Jennifer Swartzwelder faced raising their respective families.
Nevertheless, she says, “we have absolutely no regrets about locating our business in Allentown.”