In 2006, the couple launched the Steel City clothing brand with nothing but a copy of Photoshop, a $199 screen printing press and YouTube tutorials for guidance.
The wearable tributes to their hometown — shirts, hats, socks and sweats — were an instant hit.
Pittsburghers — whether they’re lifelong residents, new arrivals or natives now living far away — love to represent Western Pennsylvania.
Now, fans of the brand are invited to the grand opening of Steel City Garage at the Streets of Cranberry, located at 20406 Route 19 in Cranberry Township. On Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., there will be live music, food trucks and family-friendly activities.
In addition to snagging exclusive opening weekend apparel, the first 50 people through the doors will be enrolled in Steel City’s Founder’s Club, which entitles them to one free T-shirt each month for a year.
The new spot will have a different vibe from Steel City’s Downtown shop at 625 Smithfield St., which opened nearly six years ago and centers on our black-and-gold sports teams. Steel City Garage’s industrial décor and retro-style goods pay homage to the Pittsburgh working class who built the American dream.
“Similar to our Downtown location, we really want Steel City Garage to capture the unique essence of our history,” Carly Grbach says. “This city was founded by visionary builders and industry workers, and that legacy still lives on in Pittsburgh’s culture today.”
Steel City’s largest customer base is in the North Hills, so the bustling Streets of Cranberry seemed like a good place to lay down new roots. The Route 19 retail center will also welcome Condado Tacos and Big Blue Swim School later this year. Steel City’s new location is next door to what will become Maxine’s coffee shop.
“Adding Steel City and Maxine’s to our tenant mix are just two more critical pieces in the transformation of Streets of Cranberry,” says Herky Pollock, executive vice president of CBRE, the site’s developer.
Brandon Grbach grew up in Braddock and got his first job wrenching on cars at Roy Young’s Auto Service, his grandfather’s business in Turtle Creek. (The gearhead says Steel City Garage will host Formula 1 watch parties when the races air). He met Carly, an Erie native, while working at Walmart. Both teenagers shared an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for all things Pittsburgh.
Launching a T-shirt company was the coolest career they could think of … and it’s paid off.
Over the years they’ve collaborated with beloved yinzer institutions such as Kennywood, Pittsburgh Brewing Co., “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This summer, the business will partner with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and nationally recognized entities such as NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts.
But it’s not all about making a profit.
The Grbachs also donate 100 percent of the proceeds from their Pittsburgh Is Stronger Than Cancer T-shirts to local charities. Since 2015, these cancer-fighting organizations have received more than $100,000 to provide support and relief for people diagnosed with the disease.
The Steel City logo is still their best seller but they’re always coming up with new ideas.
“This corner of the state has always been a source of history and stories,” Brandon Grbach says. “We make shirts that will get you high-fived in an airport bar.”