For lots of Pittsburghers, the Garden Club of Allegheny County’s annual PIZZAZZ benefit is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, thanks to the lineup of designer boutiques from across the country it brings to the Fox Chapel Golf Club. But when the event returns Wednesday through Friday, organizers hope to get even more people in on the tradition with a number of additions and surprises.
This year, alongside its signature mix of vendors, PIZZAZZ will feature its first bazaar spotlighting several local artisans. There’s something for almost everyone on your gift list with an expanded range of items, especially for children and men. Even the customary buffet is getting a makeover; the new “lunch with a view” in the tavern dining area offers scenic vistas of the golf course.
“We think the local connection is a real addition for us and an important way to expand what PIZZAZZ has been in the past,” says Mary Margaret Stamy, who is serving as the event chair with Anna Konrad.
Vendors with a Pittsburgh connection include The Art of Fudge, Backstage Alpaca Shop, Bridget Rose Fine Stationery, J. McLaughlin clothing and accessories, The Olive Tap extra-virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars, Saint’s Nicks handcrafted Santa Claus decor, So Me Artisan Wares and Jeweler’s Studio, Thirty-One Gifts organizing bags, Vessel Studio hand-blown glass, and W & W fashions and home goods.
“We took suggestions from a number of our members. We also took suggestions from friends and neighbors,” she says. “The idea was to try and find very unique offerings that most of our shoppers would not have come in contact with. We think their merchandise is something very distinctive.”
The visiting vendors will be a blend of newcomers and old favorites such as Three Sisters Cheese Straws (Weirton, W.Va.), Bird Dog Bay menswear (Chicago), CPC Childrenswear (Rowayton, Conn.), Traci Designs in Silk hand-painted silk wearables (Ooltewah, Tenn.) and Sissy Yates Designs semi-precious jewelry (Washington, D.C.). The Garden Club will sponsor the Timeless Treasures table with antiques from its members.
A special “Casablanca”-themed preview party will open the event on Wednesday evening. In recent years, PIZZAZZ included Saturday shopping but this time returns to its original Wednesday through Friday schedule. Organizers found it has steadier foot traffic, Ms. Stamy says.
Proceeds from PIZZAZZ have helped the Garden Club fund more than $1 million in environmental and conservation projects throughout the community over the years. The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Tree Pittsburgh and the Student Conservation Association are a few of its 2016 grant recipients. Money raised last year supported the Garden Club’s Centennial Project in Point State Park. The group worked with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to grow plants with colonial ties to the land and to include a bioswale to demonstrate best practices for managing storm water runoff.
To keep this philanthropic focus at the forefront of the event, PIZZAZZ now has a new logo and slogan: Shop. Mingle. Give Back.
“It has always been a collection of wonderful boutiques from across the country, but it’s about shopping with a purpose,” Ms. Stamy says. “That really is the essence of PIZZAZZ.”
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG.