Pittsburgh’s biggest sporting event is ready to get back to normal.
May 7, 2023 @ 7am
While the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers all draw big game day crowds, none can compare to the crowd that comes out for the Pittsburgh Marathon. With more than 30,000 participants and 300,000 spectators, it’s an event that draws people and dollars to the city.
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic years, Laura Karet sounds fully confident about the prospects for Giant Eagle today.
“We have big aspirations to grow,” said Karet, who spoke Tuesday before a sold-out audience at a VisionPittsburgh luncheon at the Duquesne Club downtown.
Amid an ever-crowding competitive climate in which everyone from Aldi to Amazon.com Inc. is selling groceries, Karet spoke as the CEO and chairwoman of a retailer that has grown to more than 470 stores and annual revenue of $11.1 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2022.
In a fireside chat led by Pittsburgh Business Times Publisher Evan Rosenberg, Karet talked about Giant Eagle’s origins. The company was started by five families during the Great Depression and its ownership continues on today in a retail industry often dominated by publicly traded national chains.
Karet’s story of Giant Eagle’s ongoing growth and expansion came in two distinct parts, the first fueled by petroleum sales and the company’s decision to diversify its store types, the second by the pandemic.
“Twenty-five years ago, we realized customers were starting to change their shopping habits,” she said.
She recalled how about 20 years ago Kroger, the Cincinnati-based grocery chain that doesn’t operate in the region, started putting gas pumps in their parking lots and how quickly Giant Eagle decided to do so as well.
The result soon led to the launch of the company’s GetGo convenience store chain.
Karet recalled how quickly establishing gas pumps at Giant Eagle stores as well as for the new GetGo locations resulted in major boosts in sales for everything else.
“We started buying gas pumps as fast as we could,” she said.
She added GetGo is now differentiated by its approach to food, noting there are now more GetGo locations than there are traditional Giant Eagle stores for what’s become a major growth vehicle for the company.
Giant Eagle also was able to benefit from the major societal disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a global health crisis in which the grocery chain operated as one of the few places people were allowed to shop amid the wave of government-required shutdowns.
“When Covid happened, our business grew enormously overnight,” she said, adding Giant Eagle quickly worked to roll out an online delivery service that had been in the works.
That was as much of a challenge as an opportunity.
With GetGo expanding and the company also rolling out more and more Market District-branded stores, including in smaller formats, Karet sounded as though Giant Eagle has carved out a sustainable niche and territory for itself.
That’s despite sometimes jarring industry consolidation.
“When Amazon bought Whole Foods, it was like a bomb went off in the industry,” she said at one point.
Yet Karet doesn’t expect any changes to the competitive landscape to come any time soon from the proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons. Roughly handicapping it as a 50/50 proposition to go forward, Karet expects such a merger to take years to fully pull off and integrate.
“We’re pretty big but really small compared to them,” she said of the two chain grocers.
She sees lots of opportunity for Giant Eagle to grow and expand as it becomes more difficult for smaller operators to compete.
“There’s too many opportunities, which, by the way is a good problem to have,” she said.
Karet noted how the company is active in converting established Giant Eagle stores into Market District stores, establishing new smaller-format Market District locations, as well as expanding its WetGo car wash business along with GetGo as a now proven store model.
“We’re pretty convinced we have a unique model that will allow us to compete in this hard changing world against people who are much bigger than us,” she said.
Karet recalled her early days in her career when she said she had “no interest in coming back to the company,” wishing instead to chart her own course, working early in her career for such companies as Procter & Gamble and Sara Lee.
Now, after taking on the title of chairwoman at Giant Eagle last year, Karet expects she’s worked in just about every position at the company, outside a few, such as chief information office and in the real estate department.
However, none of them equaled the kind of grounding she received actually working in the stores.
“The best training by far was working in the stores growing up,” she said.
The Fall ’22 Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District presented by UPMC and UPMC Health Plan is free and open to everyone and features more than 15 Crawl Stops. Expect brand new gallery exhibitions, public art that casts a canopy of color across the sky, unmissable live music marking the Backyard’s final weekend of the season, and an outdoor Crawl After Dark experience to keep the party going until midnight. 5:30 – 10 pm
Your new next door neighbor, the summer arts park is here in your Backyard at 8th & Penn, open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am-9pm! Enjoy free live performances, dance nights, local food trucks and more as you swing through the season!
For free family fun in the Cultural District, the Backyard at 8th & Penn is the place to be this summer! We’re kicking off July with the Backyard offerings below, but you can always stay up to date and find out more at TrustArts.org/Backyard.
The 2022-23 list, released Tuesday, ranked 150 U.S. metro areas using indexes for jobs, housing affordability, quality of life, desirability, and net migration to calculate each city’s standing. U.S. News gathers data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor, and its own internal sources. Pittsburgh is a great place to live. You can call Pittsburgh your home at http://www.starloftspgh.com.
Great news, Frozen, the musical is coming to the Benedum Theater, right across the street from you home. The schedule for this is October 5-16, 2022.
Be sure to get your tickets. This will be a record-breaking season for the Pittsburgh Broadway season 2022-2023!
Here is plot of the musical Frozen:
A Greek chorus introduces Princess Elsa of Arendelle and her playful younger sister, Princess Anna (“Vuelie”, “Let the Sun Shine On”). While the family knows about Elsa’s magic, it is kept a secret from the people of Arendelle. One night at bedtime, Elsa and Anna build a magical snowman and name it Olaf (“A Little Bit of You”); Elsa creates snow in their room. In their excitement, Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her icy magic. Their parents, King Agnarr and Queen Iduna, call for the aid of the colony of hidden folk, led by Grand Pabbie. He heals Anna and removes her memories of Elsa’s magic. Elsa asks Grand Pabbie to remove her magic, but he says that it is a part of her. He gives her a vision of her future, frightening Elsa, who believes that her magic will cause death. The King isolates the sisters within the castle. Elsa shuts Anna out when Anna seeks to play (“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?“), and Elsa’s fear of her powers grows. While the princesses are still young, the Queen and King sail to seek a solution to help Elsa control her powers, and they die at sea during a storm.
Years pass. The day before Elsa’s coronation as Queen of Arendelle, Anna asks if there is anything she can do for her sister. Elsa, her room coated in ice, refuses to open her door out of fear of hurting Anna again. Anna is excited for the castle’s gates to open (“For the First Time in Forever“) and meets the handsome Prince Hans (“Hans of the Southern Isles”). Elsa is terrified that the kingdom’s citizens might find out about her powers and fear her, while wishing to be able to reconnect with Anna (“Dangerous to Dream”). Elsa’s coronation goes smoothly, and she initiates her first contact with Anna in years. They enjoy the coronation together, with Anna talking the Duke of Weselton out of dancing with the newly crowned Queen. However, Elsa leaves after Anna asks about keeping the gates open. Anna falls in love with Hans (“Love Is an Open Door“), who quickly proposes marriage to her, and the two share a kiss after she accepts. The couple asks for Elsa’s blessing, who objects because the two have only known each other for a day. After intense questioning from Anna about shutting her out of her life, Elsa accidentally unleashes her powers before the court. The Duke brands her a monster. Elsa flees to the North Mountain without realizing that her suppressed magic has engulfed Arendelle in an eternal winter.
Anna goes in search of Elsa, leaving Hans in charge of the kingdom during her absence. Up in the mountains, ice harvester Kristoff and his reindeer Sven (“Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People“) are found by the ill-equipped Anna, still in her coronation dress. She orders Kristoff to take her to the North Mountain, the source of the storm. Kristoff gives her a set of winter clothes, and she leaves her dress behind. In view of her sudden engagement, Kristoff and Anna disagree about love as they cross a bridge (“What Do You Know About Love”), and Anna saves Kristoff from falling off the bridge. Anna and Kristoff then encounter a newly created Olaf, who offers to guide them to Elsa and sings about his love for summer (“In Summer“). A soldier arrives in Arendelle with Anna’s dress, and Hans fears for Anna’s safety. He assembles a search party (“Hans of the Southern Isles” (reprise)), including the Duke and two of his men, who intend to put her in her place. Meanwhile, on the North Mountain, Elsa builds an ice castle with her powers and transforms her coronation dress into a sparkly ice gown (“Let It Go“).
Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf arrive at Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Sauna to meet the owner, Oaken (“Hygge”). Anna enjoys the sauna together with its many other patrons. Kristoff convinces Oaken and his patrons to aid their journey; Oaken gives them provisions and a winter dress for Anna.
Reaching the ice palace, Anna meets Elsa, but when she reveals what has become of Arendelle, Elsa becomes angry and frustrated, saying that she cannot fix it, and she accidentally freezes Anna’s heart (“I Can’t Lose You”). Out of fear of hurting Anna further, Elsa forces her, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf out of the palace. Anna’s hair begins turning white, so Kristoff takes her to meet the hidden folk, his adoptive family, who recognize Anna as the princess and attempt to match her with Kristoff, despite him mentioning her betrothal to Hans (“Fixer Upper“). Grand Pabbie attempts to remove the magic freezing Anna’s heart but fails; Kristoff realizes that he is falling in love with her (“Kristoff Lullaby”). Grand Pabbie reveals that Anna will freeze solid unless “an act of true love” reverses the spell. Kristoff selflessly races Anna back home so Hans can give her true love’s kiss.
In the ice castle, Elsa considers whether she is a monster and wonders how can she end the storm, unsure whether the storm would end or grow worse if she were to die (“Monster“). She resolves to stay alive to end the storm and lowers the defenses around the castle, allowing Hans and his men to capture her. Home, Anna is delivered to Hans, but rather than kissing her, he reveals that he has been plotting to seize the throne of Arendelle by allowing Anna to freeze to death and accusing Elsa of her murder (“Hans of the Southern Isles” (reprise 2)). Hans locks Anna in a room to die, as Anna reflects on her mistakes while still holding on to the idea of love (“True Love”). Olaf frees Anna, and they venture into the blizzard outside to meet Kristoff, whom Olaf reveals is in love with her.
Hans publicly charges Elsa with treason and sentences her to death. Elsa escapes her chains and flees outside as a blizzard grows (“Colder by the Minute”). Kristoff and Anna struggle to find each other. Hans confronts Elsa, claiming that she killed Anna, causing Elsa to break down and the storm to pause. Anna finally finds Kristoff but spots Hans about to kill Elsa; she leaps in the way and freezes solid, stopping Hans. Devastated, Elsa mourns her sister, who thaws out, her sacrifice constituting “an act of true love”. Realizing that her magic is controlled by love, Elsa ends the winter (“Vuelie (Love Thaws)”). Anna punches Hans, and she and Kristoff become a couple, with Elsa’s blessing. Elsa and Anna reunite without fear for the first time, as their parents, young Elsa and young Anna appear in the background, signaling the healing of the sisters’ painful past (Finale).
Dance companies in Pittsburgh and around the globe are looking at ways to bring ballet into the 21st century. The Pittsburgh Dance Council will introduce local audiences to one such innovator, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, described as transcending tradition in a “groundbreaking mix of styles ranging from ballet to hip hop.”
Complexions Contemporary Ballet presents “Bach 25” and “Woke.” 8 p.m. Byham Theater. 101 Sixth St., Downtown. $10-65. 1 Block over from your starloftspgh home.
Benedum Center’s famous marquees are getting an upgrade in the Pittsburgh Cultural District downtown.
Crews are upgrading the marquee on 7th Street and the Stanley Photoplay board on Penn Avenue.
The goal is to increase functionality and reduce energy consumption.
Both signs will maintain a “classic” look because the Benedum Center is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The challenge is to address the deterioration on the marquee,” architect Alan Hohlfelder said. “And make sure it can be restored in an identical way to how you see it now. It involves a lot of custom metalwork and integrating updated displays. We’re going to match the style and colors in the original sign.”
The project is being funded by a $1 million pledge from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
The restoration is expected to be completed in the fall, in time for the 35th anniversary of the reopening of the Stanley Theater as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.