The "Joy of Cookies" Cookie Tour is a Lawrenceville institution and holiday tradition.
The Cookie Tour had its beginnings as a holiday open house in 1997, and soon the event grew to include more than a dozen businesses with stops for refreshments along the way. Today, the Cookie Tour has become Lawrenceville’s signature business district event, one which helps the business district grow economically, attracts new visitors and exemplifies the strong spirit of community in Lawrenceville.
"Some people think it's the end of the business district, but really it's just the beginning." This is how Sarah Walsh, owner of Caffe d'Amore describes the 10th Ward of Lawrenceville, and the start of the 2016 "Joy of Cookies" Cookie Tour.
Beginning December 1st through December 4th, "The Joy of Cookies" Cookie Tour brings small businesses from across the Lawrenceville neighborhood together, opening their doors for the holiday shopping season by offering free sample sized cookies to excited shoppers. Cookie Stops are marked by little numbered gingerbread people signs outside each participating store. Take a Break Stops are numbered with little red stop signs, marking a location where cookie tour goers can pause to re-caffinate, enjoy a cookie flavored beer, or grab some lunch.
While the tour is about a mile and a half long there are a wide range of places to discover along the tour at each end. Long time locals and out of town visitors alike discover the variety of offerings in this historical neighborhood and its thriving business district.
Caffe d'Amore is #2 on the list of Take a Break stops and continues to see repeat customers from last year's tour who travel from outside the city to get unique items. Sarah is committed to a long-term sustainable business plan, serving Deeper Roots Coffee, that promotes relationships and quality over price cutting via a direct sourcing model. This provides a livable wage to the Guatemalan farm from which the coffee is purchased and educates consumers on responsible sourcing practices.
Visitors this year can craft the perfect gift basket stuffed with coffee, house-made shrubs, cozies, a mason jar and Cuppow - which turns that jar into a reusable to-go cup.
Sarah's focus on relationship building is what lead to the perfect marriage of coffee and books under one storefront. Owners of Nine Stories bookshop, John Shortino and Allison Mosher were customers who were looking for a brick and mortar location for their pop-up shop.
Blending literary and genre titles, Nine Stories occupies every inch of the other side of 5400 Butler Street with new and used books and literature themed goods. The two businesses have also teamed up to co-program events including the Nine Stories grand-opening and author readings.
A mile and a half down the road the Cookie Tour ends at the 3400 block of Butler Street where Paul Michael Designs crafts custom made jewelry including a successful line of "geek jewelry" inspired by popular science fiction. PMD can take a drawing on a napkin and transform it into a finished wearable piece in their full process shop.
Edward Marc Brands is headquartered in the neighborhood and its brands include The Milk Shake Factory, Edward Marc Chocolatier, and Snappers. The 50,000 square foot Lawrenceville facility is home to Snappers, a combination of caramel or peanut butter, chocolate, and pretzels. The Edwards family story began as a store front in Lawrenceville a hundred years ago and while it has grown beyond that, its roots stay in the neighborhood. Visitors to the tour can get samples of Snappers on Saturday December 3rd at select spots on the tour and on the two Molly's Trolleys running from 12PM to 6PM.
Genevieve Barbee-Turner first visited Pittsburgh in September of 1985, a two month old temporary evacuee of Hurricane Gloria from Chesapeake, Virginia. She was taken with the area then and continues to explore the region — illustrating and documenting the people, places, and things of Pittsburgh. Connect with her at ki11erpancake.com, Instagram @ki11erpancak3, Twitter @ki11erpancake, or send an old fashioned email.