Q&A: Bernadette Gerbe of Gerbe Glass

Gerbe Glass closed their brick and mortar location at 4119 Butler Street on September 3, 2022. Bernadette will continue making glass art in her new home and studio in Grove City.

Our Business District Manager, Abi Gildea, sat down with Bernadette Gerbe, owner of Gerbe Glass, to ask her about her time in Lawrenceville.

Q: Why did you choose Lawrenceville for Gerbe Glass?

A: My son actually suggested it. We were in the suburbs and we wanted an urban feel. We always joked that we were going to retire to New York City but couldn’t afford it. So where in Pittsburgh can we get the same neighborhood, walk-to-everything feel, that’s cool and funky. He suggested Lawrenceville and I’m like, I don’t even know where that is. Where is it? He said it’s basically Penn Avenue between the Strip District and Pittsburgh Glass Center. I drove that and was like, I’m not seeing what you’re talking about, but that was years ago. It’s much different now. Then he realized he meant Butler Street, so then I drove it and was like, oh yeah, this is where we want to be! We bought in 2012 and this was the only storefront for sale at the time. So we lucked into this spot. The time here has been really great overall.

Q: What will you miss most about the people in Lawrenceville?

A: The peeeoooople. The people. Tank pets. The people. We’ve lived in suburbs, but in a lot of different places and except for the period of time when I had little kids, we know more neighbors here than anywhere we have ever lived. The whole range too, from eighty-year-olds who have lived here forever to the person who just moved in. Everybody is super friendly.

Q: What’s your favorite memory?

A: I would say the House Tours. I really enjoyed the House Tours.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you faced?

A: Parking – haha!

Q: How do you feel COVID affected your business?

A: It increased my business shockingly. I thought 2020 was going to be like, wipe it right off the calendar. I’m not going to have any sales. I’m as far from an essential business as can be.

During the shutdown, I cleared off my table and brought out my sewing machines and made about 5,000 masks. So I wasn’t bored, and I got to see the world. Then, once we opened back up, everyone was receiving stimulus money, and people weren’t traveling, so they had a lot more disposable income and I think they wanted to support small businesses. They wanted to spend it on things that made them happy and glass makes people happy. 2020 was a record year even with being closed for those months. Then 2021 was even better than 2020!

Q: How can people stay in touch and continue to support your business?

A: I will still be melting glass. I will not have a retail spot, so I will need online sales and I’ll probably still do shows and things like that. Everything on my business card is still accurate besides my address. Instagram and Facebook are how I intend to sell my work.

I’m definitely going to miss sitting in this window, seeing everyone go by. Plus all the love that Tank gets. Yeah, I’m definitely going to miss it.

Q: What’s something you hope for the future of Lawrenceville?

A: I hope we continue to have a thriving business district that isn’t just bars and eating establishments – that has cute little shops. I’m really into cute little shops.

I’m happy to see Inclusionary Zoning, I think that’s something that’s really important too.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

A: Does anyone want to buy my house? Haha!

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