After six decades in business, Mike Feinberg Company, the Strip District retailer of party supplies, Steelers gear and other items you might not know existed, will shut its doors this spring.
“It’s just the right time, all the factors involved, it’s just time to retire,” explained Marcia Cantor, daughter of the late Mike Feinberg, as to why the family has decided to close up shop on a store that has served as a city staple since the 1950s.
Back when the business began, its shelves were not stocked with whoopee cushions, rubber chickens, Steel City souvenirs or a surplus of other items that customers now enjoy. During the early days, Mike Feinberg and his self-named store simply offered bicycles and stuffed animals.
“He sold to hospital gift shops, and it kind of evolved,” said his daughter.
But as the years progressed the small-time supplier started featuring merchandise of more variety. He sold shot glasses, bumper stickers, nostalgic toys and candy. Eventually, because of the monstrous amounts of miscellanea he marketed, Feinberg became known as “the party king.”
These days, whether it is a fedora hat, feather boa or decorations for any number of holidays, Mike Feinberg Company is the place to purchase those goods — or at least will remain as the place for a few more weeks.
“We have everything you don’t need but have to have,” noted Cantor.
The Strip District store also carries perhaps less coveted items, such as an item Cantor called “growing poop.”
“You put it in water and then it expands,” she explained.
It is one of the newer items in the eclectic emporium. Unlike plates, streamers or raffle tickets, all of which the store has sold for decades, “growing poop” only emerged about five years ago, said Cantor. “It’s not a staple, it just kind of makes an appearance.”
Perhaps not as memorable as the aforementioned, other odd items are also available.
“We’re kind of the go to place for things that you can’t find anywhere else.” Like dated posters of former Pittsburgh Pirate Bobby Bonilla or Super Bowl memorabilia from the Steelers past trips to the NFL championship. But like the raffle tickets, throw beads or even the 70 varieties of plastic ducks (each of which cost 60 cents), everything eventually gets purchased, explained Cantor.
On March 26, the late Feinberg and the business he started will be fêted with a proclamation aptly declaring the day to be “Mike Feinberg Day.” Apart from a public announcement in the Strip District, there will be a “big party, a celebration and snacks. It will be fun,” said Cantor. Part of the purpose in gathering is also to thank the people of Pittsburgh, she added. “We want to thank Pittsburgh, it’s a great city. I was born and raised here; I guess I’m prejudiced. It’s nice and clean, it’s not too expensive, the people are really nice, and tourists always come in and say that, and I agree.”
Something else that is often noticed in the store, she said, is the family feel at Mike Feinberg Company.
Until his death in 2007, the founder worked there virtually daily. His daughter has been at the shop for nearly 30 years, and during the busier season she is often joined by family members, including her daughter, son, brother and sister.
“It’s definitely a family affair,” noted Cantor.
Such is further demonstrated by Sylvia Feinberg, Cantor’s mother and the late Feinberg’s wife, who used to come in and help out only between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Except that changed when “one year she never left,” remarked the daughter. “My mother is here, she is 88 years old and comes in five days a week.”
But after so many decades the doors to Mike Feinberg Company are finally closing.
“It was fun, it was wonderful,” said the daughter. “But now was the time to move on.”
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.