WhoWhatWHEREWhy: Plenty of PIZZAZZ at annual Garden Club of Allegheny County benefit

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The Garden Club of Allegheny County's PIZZAZZ boutique shopping benefit has garnered a reputation as a go-to event for a unique selection of home goods, fashion, jewelry and more.

"I think the fact that we keep it fresh every year, yet we bring back those tried-and-true vendors who are wildly popular, keeps people coming back," says GCAC member and public relations representative Cindy Tilson.

This year's lineup of about 30 vendors from across the country will not only cater to devout crowds of women's clubs, mother-daughter teams and early holiday gift hunters but also to men, with a custom menswear clothier new to PIZZAZZ. Festivities kick off for the 17th year on Wednesday evening with a preview party. The benefit runs through Friday at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Choosing the right combination of retailers requires lots of planning, Ms. Tilson says. A vendors committee travels the country attending boutique shows, and "then they try to lure them to Pittsburgh to our show," she says.

"A paramount rule is nobody is from the Pittsburgh area. We want to bring in things that are totally unique to the area."

Often, it doesn't take much convincing to get them here.

"A lot of people have been trying for years to show their things at PIZZAZZ," she says. It's not uncommon to have about 100 vendors who want to participate each year.


  • Where: Fox Chapel Golf Club, 426 Fox Chapel Road.
  • When: Preview party from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. Shopping 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. A buffet lunch is available both days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Admission: Preview party is $75. Admission Thursday and Friday is $10 or $30 for shopping plus lunch. Contact 412-963-9341 for preview party and luncheon reservations.
  • Information: www.gcacpgh.org.

Nearly half of PIZZAZZ's offerings are new this time, with special attention paid to the sharply dressed man with custom suits and ready-to-wear selections from Ohio-based clothier Romualdo. A representative will be on site and will return at a later date for another round of fittings.

Other first-timers have something for him and her as well as children, such as ChappyWrap blankets in classic, cute and clever prints. Some newcomers, like Buckled to Go, carry monogrammed jewelry, custom belt buckles, totes and more stocking-stuffer-type accessories.

Many favorites from past years will be returning. Creme de la Creme will be back with gifts for him, her and the home. Sarah Oliver Handbags, contemporary clothing from Mr. Charles Shop, Wreath of Wishes silk floral arrangements, Stanton Sweets and Three Sisters cheese straws are other vendor veterans shoppers can expect.

"People say, 'If you don't have that every year, we're not coming back,' " Ms. Tilson says.

The Garden Club of Allegheny County will once again feature its own booth, Timeless Treasures, with antiques and other items donated by club members, their friends and family.

In addition to variety, PIZZAZZ planners strive to feature items with a range of price points, from a few dollars to hundreds or thousands.

The event benefits Garden Club of Allegheny County's projects, which have included such undertakings as supporting the Sewickley Restoration branch of the American Chestnut Foundation, edible schoolyard gardens at The Neighborhood Academy and the Hill House Park volunteer program.


Sara Bauknecht: sbauknecht@post-gazette.com.


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