The ability to inject energy into a community is always a challenging endeavor, but one of the most engaging and fascinating platforms of our collective day-to-day is the coffee shop.
A bustling epicenter of commerce and community engagement where new ideas flow, old friends meet, startups form, and college tests are crammed for.
Coffee shop interactions are memorable and captivating.
It’s a place where people feel safe to exchange ideas and find solitude. It has, for many communities, become a cornerstone of togetherness.
But what about communities that don’t check all the boxes for primary demographics and aesthetics? Do they not deserve the same opportunity and latitude to promote growth?
Opening a Coffee Shop in Swissvale
Hannah and Geoff Critzer were faced with that very question when decided to open a coffee shop in Swissvale; the second-tier stepchild of the Edgewood faction.
Swissvale is a borough that is located on the eastern edge of the city of Pittsburgh. A portion of the neighborhood sits right next to Regent Square and continues on the other side of the Parkway East. HLane Dry Goods and Coffee is located at 2009 Noble Street right in the heart of the Swissvale business district.
Hannah, a Virginia native, migrated to Pittsburgh five years ago with her husband, Geoff. They fell in love with Swissvale and soon bought a home. After a short while, the duo searched for a way to minister and contribute to the community that had stolen their hearts so quickly. They toyed around with the idea of opening a seamstress/tailoring business but wanted a more sustainable revenue ecosystem. A coffee bar turned out to be the right fit.
With Hannah’s expert background as a seamstress, and Geoff’s deep love for restoration of properties, they jumped into the entrepreneurial waters. In a back room of the coffee shop (Often with her daughter), Hannah designs, sews, and curates clothing. She also hunts for vintage records, and locally sourced products to sell like greeting cards, ceramics, and honey (Dry Goods).
Crizter’s vision was to create a modern throwback to the Dry Goods stores first established in the 1700’s. Custom wood shelving, vintage décor and seating, and handmade signs offer an eclectic and inviting atmosphere that warms the spirit.
Inspiration for HLane Dry Goods & Coffee
Hannah’s inspiration for HLane comes from her family’s affinity for colonial reenactments, and she became somewhat prolific in creating period-accurate garments for the performances.
Fast forward to a little over a year of being in business and the community has taken in HLane with open arms. It is now a popular spot that boasts many regulars.
Support from the Swissvale community
“The biggest supporters have by far been the people of Swissvale.”
There’s something frighteningly authentic about the Swissvale community. What many see as an undesirable area, the Critzer’s see joy and hope in the youth who visit their shop every week, and a community that has rallied around people investing in people, not statistics.
“They’re so friendly and supportive,” Critzer said.