There’s a new store on West Liberty Avenue where Felix the Cat watches customers from guitars, wall clocks, shelves and ornaments.
He’s a big part of the business, but he’s just one element that adds diversity to this Dormont storefront.
Owner Buddy Hall and his wife, Michelle, opened Diversity on Black Friday. The venture is for fun, and Hall said although he hopes the stores products will be useful to customers, the couple is mainly looking to create a fun new space on West Liberty.
“I’m not trying to make millions of dollars here. I just want to have fun,” Hall said. “I want to get out of my studio sometimes, see the daylight and hang out with people. Find some new things.”
Hall, a record producer by profession, owns Beacon Hill Recording Studio in Dormont. It’s not uncommon for him to spend 10 or more hours a day working in his studio, and he said getting into daylight for a few hours is likely good for his health.
So is his reason for opening the store to begin with.
After decades of smoking cigarettes, Hall started using a tobacco vaporizer, sometimes called an “electronic cigarette.”
“I’ve smoked cigarettes all my life, and when I found this thing I thought it was awesome right out of the gate,” he said. “It made me think ‘I should sell these.’ It’s something that could save lives.”
Initially, that’s all the store was going to sell. But then he bought salt lamps from Moonstones for his home studio, and got so many compliments from colleagues that he decided to sell those, too.
Diversity also sells incense, scarves, locally-made candles, and music from local artists. Although the store is small, Hall said he wants to invite local musicians to play and promote their music there.
Hall said he doesn’t charge the local artists for promoting their music in the store—he just asks that they consider donating some of the proceeds to Dormont’s Hollywood Theater.
And then there’s Felix the Cat.
Don Oriolo, who owns the copyright to Felix the Cat, also owns a company that makes one of Hall’s favorite things—Oriolo Guitars. Diversity’s walls are lined with instruments from The Oriolo Guitar Company, each decorated with its own unique artwork.
A connection through a friend and a simple phone call was all it took to get the guitars—and Felix—into the store.
“All this stuff is how the store became Diversity,” Hall said. “It isn’t just a guitar store. It’s a save your self with e-cigarettes or candles and find something fun store.”
Diversity is open Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is at 2938 West Liberty Avenue.