The Shop at 19th & Chestnut brings business to Erie’s Little Italy

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Pat and Rachel McCreary flew under the radar with a project that spanned a decade.

But over the past few years, as they worked to transform the corner of 19th and Chestnut streets into an inviting space, their project became a highlight of Erie’s Little Italy neighborhood.

What once housed Erie Bronze and Aluminum and then McCreary Roofing is now The Shop, a 23,000 square foot creative mixed-use building that houses several small businesses.

After McCreary Roofing moved to 1404 East Ave. 10 years ago, owners Pat and Rachel McCreary kept the industrial site in hopes of finding a new purpose for it.

“We didn’t want this place to be a rundown building, we didn’t want it to belong to someone who wouldn’t take care of it,” said Rachel McCreary, 37. “We wanted to show, for example, that once you provide quality stuff, you get quality tenants and you get people who want to make an impact here.”

A labor of love

Piece by piece, the McCrearys rebuilt, rezoned and cleaned up The Shop to make room for others who saw the potential in what the space had to offer.

“A lot of it (of the building) existed and was ready to go, it just needed to be cleaned up a bit and made presentable,” said Pat McCreary, 40. “The big things were the sprinkler upgrades, the electrical upgrades, the faceplate stuff.”

Bottom center Stephanie Hunt, owner of Copper Carriage Antiques & Decor with her husband Joe, cleans new items in Erie last week.  The retail store is located at The Shop, a growing collection of small businesses.

In addition to running The Shop, Pat McCreary works for the family business, McCreary Roofing. Working in the commercial roofing business gives Pat McCreary an edge when it comes to fixing The Shop. Any extra materials from jobs — like the old skylights at Girard High School and the green fencing that surrounded the Erie SeaWolves games — that would otherwise be discarded, Pat McCreary would find ways to reuse at 19th and Chestnut.

As Pat and Rachel McCreary began to breathe more life into The Shop, they created several bays, or subsections of space in the building, that tenants could rent out. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple pushed ahead with their plans for the building.

“It really got you questioning events and having public gatherings, but at the end of the day we still have an old building and we still have to change it, so it hasn’t changed our end goal or our goal,” Pat McCreary said.

MenajErie Studio owners Jessica Taylor, 31, and husband Nick Taylor, 32, front, are joined by staff members Greg Happ, 27, left, and Leah Pluff, 30, at their facility at the interior of The Shop.

The store is currently home to MenajErie Studio, an ad agency specializing in video production; Natural States Collective, which sells handmade national park posters and artwork; BOTH Studios, a custom millwork company specializing in large-scale tables; and Copper Carriage Antiques, which sells primitive, industrial, and mid-century modern antiques.

“We all love our tenants and our businesses,” said Rachel McCreary. “Everyone is very low key and they are creative people.”

And there is room for more.

Besides the main bay, which serves as the common space for the building, Pat and Rachel McCreary are preparing three other bays for future tenants. The McCrearys also offer some creative freedom when it comes to a tenant’s specific space.

“Someone might say, ‘I want a nice storefront,’ and we might say, ‘OK, well, we can use this area, build a glass wall and open it up,'” Rachel McCreary said.

The McCreary’s hope to attract creative tenants who want to build on The Shop and bring something new to the building.

“There are other places in the city that have small businesses, but you’re confined to traditional offices and we’re not,” said Rachel McCreary. “So we cater to people who want to have space.”

Two winters ago, Pat and Rachel McCreary demolished a section at the back of the building to make way for an indoor-outdoor patio space that is still under construction. It will tie into the McCrearys’ side project, which will be a greenhouse cafe solely for them and their tenants.

“We know there are cool spaces here and we want to showcase them,” said Rachel McCreary.

Signage from custom wood furniture maker BOTH Studios is on display at The Shop, a growing collection of small businesses in the former McCreary Roofing industrial building near West 19th and Chestnut streets.

A place for artists

Over the years, The Shop has not only served as a home for its tenants, but also for various art galleries and markets, events that Pat and Rachel McCreary want to move away from as The Shop continues to grow.

“We’re really focused on finishing the building and infilling it,” said Rachel McCreary. “We don’t need it to be just an event hall, we want it to be a place where people come to work every day, not just one day for a market.

“So we’re focused on attracting new business to Little Italy. At the end of the day, we’re just two people, and we like everyone managing everything in their space.”

Brad Triana, owner of BOTH Studios, works in his custom woodworking studio at The Shop last week.

Brad Triana, owner of BOTH Studios, has no problem managing his own space.

As The Shop’s longest-serving tenant, Triana transformed her portion of the building into an environment that matches her millwork needs.

“It was in a very different state when I moved in, just a little rough around the edges,” he said. “But there’s more space, high ceilings and it’s quiet. There’s not a lot of decent industrial space like this in the city and I just got lucky.”

Triana thought he’d share his luck with his good friends at MenajErie Studios, who were looking for a new space once their lease at the Renaissance Center ended in late 2020.

“We wanted an open, industrial clean slate where we could do whatever we wanted,” said Jessica Taylor, co-owner of MenajErie. “Just having a bigger studio opened up a lot of possibilities, like rebuilding sets and allowing us to do much bigger projects.”

For Stephanie and Joe Hunt, the building’s possibilities weren’t the only things that prompted them to move their business, Copper Carriage Antiques, to The Shop.

“Before Joe and I came here, we were at the Edinboro Mall,” Stephanie Hunt said. “We were always doing smaller (antique) shows, and when we came here I was like, I’d like the opportunity for other people who don’t have their own space to come and set up. .”

For Stephanie Hunt, the space inside and outside The Shop allows Copper Carriage to “give back to the community and speak to the people of this area, because it’s a bit off the beaten path”.

Thinking outside the box was exactly what Curtis Waidley, owner of Natural States Collective and new tenant of The Shop, was looking for.

“I had been looking for a space of my own for about five years, so when I met Rachel and took a look around I fell in love instantly,” Waidley said. “I like the idea of ​​it being a revamped building, especially as an artist. It’s also a great community here. Even in the short time I’ve been here, everyone has been super nice. I don’t think there’s anywhere else I would want to be.”

Baylee DeMuth can be reached at 814-450-3425 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @BayleeDeMuth.

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