Gig-Economy: Are Self-Employed Americans Prepared?

WASHINGTON — A growing number of Americans are stepping away from the corporate ladder and climbing one of their own. According to the the IRS, 29 million people are self-employed nationwide, with that number increasing by half a million every year.

Katie Vlietstra, vice president for government relations and public affairs for the National Association for the Self-Employed, said often securing needs such as insurance and disability coverage is lost in the shuffle of entrepreneurship.

“You know, you have to do some research, you have to figure out how do you secure benefits for you and especially if you have a family or a spouse that receives their benefits from you,” Vlietstra said. “How do you set up your business?”

Increasingly, organizations like the NASE offer connections to life and disability insurance, as well as medical insurance for those not eligible for the marketplace.

2016 McKinsey Global Institute Report found that about 27 percent of working-age people in the United States and Europe engage at least partially in independent work.

According to USAA, 1 in 3 people in the United States doesn’t carry life insurance. Sean Scaturro, director of life and health insurance with USAA, said the lack of life insurance presents a problem for the entire economy.

“It’s a social issue. You’ve got a third of the country that doesn’t have adequate life insurance,” Scaturro said. “Now, that’s not to say that everybody is going to die at the same time, but you know what? People pass away every day, and unfortunately families are left under-protected every single day.”

Scaturro added that people assume life insurance costs two- to three-times what it normally does.

Vlietstra said people who are self-employed should take a minute to research costs and ways to protect themselves and their families.

“Just make sure you have the proper level of protection, legal protection, if that’s insurance to make sure that as you get started and you have assets that need to be protected,” she said. “You know, I would definitely spend the money at the beginning to talk to a lawyer.”

Experts say the growth in self-employment, also called the gig economy, is related to people working to piece together employment after the economy crashed during the recession, and also a general desire for more flexibility and work-life balance.


Experts: Don’t Underestimate Power of Retail, Restaurant Jobs

WASHINGTON – According to the latest numbers, the leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurant and retail jobs, added 62,000 jobs last month.

While many people are quick to dismiss those positions as less important or not “real” jobs, Robert Doar, a fellow in poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, says these jobs represent an important foot in the door for millions of young people, as well as a re-entry into the workforce for those needing a second chance.

“They provide a path upwards,” he stresses. “Now, they don’t guarantee a path upwards, but they are a start and they are almost always going to lead to a better economic circumstance than not having a job at all.”

Overall, the U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, beating expectations.

The service sector is the country’s largest private sector employer, encompassing more than 30 million jobs nationwide.

Doar, who also is a senior adviser for the Path Forward coalition, says because of its sheer size and the role it plays as a gateway to future employment, the health of the service sector is an important indicator of the overall health of the economy.

“Sometimes we get hung up on particular focus on manufacturing, or high tech, even government, or health care, but the fact of the matter with 30 million jobs in this one sector is a big part of whether our economy is moving forward or standing still,” he points out.

Attorney Broderick Johnson was the chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force under President Barack Obama, and also is a senior adviser with Path Forward. He says not only do retail and restaurant jobs teach critical skills such as punctuality, reliability and consistency, they actually can play a role in strengthening communities.

“Violence-reduction strategies have to include making sure that young men of color especially have good first job opportunities, and without question the service industry is such an important part of making sure those strategies and those young people succeed,” he stresses.

Despite the rising role of e-commerce, experts say the latest numbers point to the staying power of brick-and-mortar retail businesses and the jobs tied to them.


Content provided on behalf of Path Forward Coalition . Contact: Erin Grandstaff , 202-570-0510,

Small Business Saturday® on Northside Pittsburgh

We spent the Saturday talking to participating local business owners on why it’s important to shop small and stay local in buying retail products and services. It means participating in your neighborhood culture and being part of a community that thrives on connections and commerce of providing the goods you need.

Participating businesses:

Johnny Angel’s Ginchy Stuff and Museum

Bicycle Heaven

City Books

Gilligan’s Sorbet


Sweet Time Cafe

Businesses involved in Small Business Saturday we were unable to capture an interview:

Bear Dog Bicycles

Allegheny City Brewing

Laverty’s Jewerly & Gifts

North Shore Deli

Video credits to Willy James, local videographer and contributor to Allegheny City Historical Gallery.

Pittsburgh Retail lends its support to Small Business Saturday® and drives commerce to small businesses.


Pittsburgh, PA – November 6, 2016 –  Pittsburgh Retail today announced its participation in this year’s Small Business Saturday, taking place on November 26th. Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting local small businesses and strengthening and celebrating communities across the country.

On Saturday, November 26th, Pittsburgh Retail will be working with a local paper, The Northside Chronicle, and the local businesses within the Northside of Pittsburgh for a day of shopping with a special contest for prizes available for free in the monthly hyper-local paper, and additional pop-up events for shopping, broadcasting, and attracting customers to the vibrant business districts within the community from 11AM-6PM.

Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday serves as the ceremonial kickoff to the holiday shopping season for small businesses across the United States. In 2015, 95 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday and spent an estimated $16.2 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on the day, according to the 2015 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey.1 The day was also championed by elected officials in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., including President Obama.

Pittsburgh Retail recognizes the importance of supporting small businesses, the jobs they help create, and the culture they instill in local communities. According to the U.S. Small Businesses Administration, as of 2014, small businesses nationwide accounted for 63% of net new private-sector jobs created and represented 99.7% of firms with paid employees.2

Merchants and consumers can learn more about Small Business Saturday and how to get involved by visiting


S Lauren Stauffer
Pittsburgh Retail

American Express


November 26th marks the seventh annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the small businesses that can create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers.

1Estimates are based on consumer self-reported data from the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey by National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express (November 30, 2015) and do not reflect actual receipts or sales.

2Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy Frequently Asked Questions, March 2014.

Pittsburgh Summer Event Opportunities

For those just getting in to the open air markets for extra cash and experimentation of retailing products, or are fully fledged seasonal caravans of scaled product lines and banking wholesale accounts; between May and December you’re getting busy or booked.

Pittsburgh has seen a surge of outdoor markets expand and new venues come to life.

PGHretail has been blessed enough with the opportunity to assist in developing markets and connecting commerce players: consumers + makers.  Cedar Arts Market began as an assistance to the flea market that had been slowly picking back up through volunteer organization in the Allegheny Commons East Park.

Through CAM, we joined the Deutschtown Music Festival for their annual July show full of free music provided by 150+ bands, street vendors, beer gardens, and community engagement for the last two years in the same park.  Now in their fourth year, the festival organizers are calling all artists to join them this year.

Last August, CAM sponsored the Pittsburgh VegFest in their first-ever event in Allegheny Commons. With their loyal and eager audience, the all-vegan experience has expanded with twice as many vendors and is also in July for 2016. Vendor spaces are strictly for vegan friendly products and

Having moved to organizing a new workshop series after the 2015 CAM outdoor market season closed, PGHretail helped to connect I Made It! Market to the Northside at the new Nova Place (Allegheny Center).  With their partnership, the annual IMI! for the Holidays was held for the first time on the Northside. The breadth of artists that Carrie Nardini, owner and organizer, works with is inspiring and central to how IMI! (and Neighborhood Flea) is able to expand and be part of almost every neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

New markets for IMI! this year are: Wholey’s on the weekends, Open Streets,  and Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank Feed More Festival.

Specific to the Northside and not a regular selling opportunity; the Block Party Pgh hosts a once of month outdoor block party! The organizers are looking for hyper-local artists and crafters interested in holding a table with kids and/or adult art and/or craft projects.  These interactions can be viewed as practice talking about your art, using member participation to build your art, or providing a canvas for public art for the community.

Interested artists can contact:

If you’ve made it through to this sentence, you may have ascertained that Cedar Arts Market has been placed on hold for 2016 as we make room to work on other projects and allow our partners to expand on the collective networks built to support communities, in common interest and on common ground.

Stay tuned for the next announcement!

Mini Profesional Workshops

Start achieving those new business goals in 2016 with our free series for professionals, entrepreneurs, makers and everyone in between. Financial management is important to time management. Whether you’re one, or a small team, administrative paperwork is consuming and distracts your focus on reaching the next step in development.

Hey Baby Boutique owner, Karyn Pope, will be presenting the second session in the CAM: Growing Micro-Entrepreneurs project that will focus on Hobby to Home Businesses.  Her day job as an accountant provides insight on low-cost ways and best practices to effectively manage home  production and retail.

Goods produced at home are considered part of the cottage industry. Between DIY, maker-movements, #shopsmall campaigns, and re surging interest in local development to weather the corporate influx of opportunities, more individuals consider alternative ways to build security in time, finances, and lifestyle.  Most look to begin new careers by working at home.

Retail of goods and specialized services through traditional online stores, the recently disruptive share economy service groups, social media inventions for branding advantages that skip the middle man costs in marketing and sales, and crowd-funding platforms have provided opportunities for start-ups to quickly build their businesses.

These workshops will help navigate new initiatives, whether traditional or innovative, and provide a layout of processes that will benefit where the road of business takes you in this modern age.

Learn more about our workshop presenter in the below interview.

Workshop Series Registration Here

Visit for class details and info.

1. What is it like to go from “hobby to home business” as a one woman, production based, soft goods operation?

KP: It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing for me. It took a few years for me to get into a groove to find the right products and a cohesive [product] line that worked well together that I could actually make by myself. It also took a lot of organization and planning and research. I started small, doing craft shows at fire halls and high schools, and then slowly started applying for juried events, built a following, and a brand, that I could be proud of.

2. Who will benefit from these classes?

KP: The new hobby-to-home businesses portions are for anyone looking to take that next step from making things for just family and friends and church basements to selling in a retail shop or an expo. For the Square session-any business owner, whether a hair salon, restaurant or deli,  jeweler,  clothing shop.  Tax session is for any business that is not a HOBBY, meaning you intend to make a profit, but the Google Docs portion is relevant for for-profit, non profit, or even basic home management.

3. Were there any blogs or resources that were inspiring for you within the hobby-to-home business theme?

KP: Pinterest was the most helpful thing for me. I learned so much about display and selling techniques, but mostly that bad days happen to everyone and that you can let it get you down or you can let it make you try 100 times harder to become successful. Other great resources are the SBA (Small Business Admin) and a book called
The Science of Shopping by – Malcolm Gladwell

4. How has this experience helped to grow your small business?

KP: Just by talking about something that you’re passionate about, and talking to other people who have the same desire as you, to make their business great and successful, and to sit around and share ideas: these are some of the best things you can do to help incubate your business. Everyone thinks and sees things differently and having a few different vantage points and not pigeonholing yourself into one set way is amazing for making your business grow and be successful.



Historic Deutschtown Business District

Recent developments in the Northside for retail are growing with new urban mall re-branding, lofts, hotels, breweries, and more. Local groups collectively developed a marketing video to highlight one of the most prominent business districts in the Northside community, East Ohio Street, which is part of Historic Deutschtown.

Learn more about the neighborhood and business opportunities from the links highlighted at the end of the video:

This video was also sponsored by The Buhl Foundation‘s #onenorthside campaign and The Sprout Fund.

Register for October 28th Square Workshop

NEW! CAM: Building Micro-Entrepreneurs


As a big THANK YOU! to everyone who donates, we will send you an email report after the workshop series with what was shared, what we learned, and what’s next! So, even if you’re unable to make a workshop, you’ll still receive a part of each class.

Our local sponsor, The Sprout Fund, will match your donation up to $1,000.  Your contribution is greatly appreciated!

Monthly workshop series beginning in September through December 2015.

Location: Crazy Mocha (Northside of Pittsburgh)
2 E North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesday’s from 5:30PM – 7:00PM
Arrive early and grab a warm tea latte, or enjoy a handmade sandwich, to support our local venue for hosting these free micro-workshops.

Limited seating to 12 people, first come-first serve basis.
Workshop Series Registration Here

October 28th:  “Square Reader; Outside the Box”

November 18th: “Minimal Prep to Maximize Your Write-Offs: Utilizing Google Docs”

December 16th: “Open Help Session & Holiday Party”

2016 Workshops
“Hobby-to-Home Business Prep”
To be held in early 2016. If interested, fill out the registration form to get on the mailing list. Workshop Series Registration Here

Summer Sponsored Markets 2015

PGHRetail has been organizing and sponsoring community events and markets since 2011.  It’s gratifying to be a resource for opportunities and networking to grow our local economy in a multitude of ways.  When groups of people come together for a similar mission, great things happen and attract future prosperity by nurturing those endeavors. Your support means the most to each individual involved, and for that I’d like to thank anyone and everyone who’s been part of this five year journey.  To many more moments together for our mutual dreams that no amount of money can buy.

Our organized events will be held in the North Side of Pittsburgh in Allegheny Commons Park.  Check out the Events Page for more details about the Cedar Arts Markets.

For more local on-going summer events around the city, there are a few resources PGHretail has worked with in the past below. Many other resources are out there if you’re not seeing events in your neighborhood. Check with your businesses and community groups for their events and opportunities to partner.

Second Shift Crafters
I Made It! Market
Neighborhood Flea
CitiParks Farmer’s Markets

Augmented Reality for Retail Advertising

Featuring Layar, a scanning app for print media, adding more digital layers to your shopping and reading experience.

layar logo v2

We were excited to try out our print advertising for Designer Deals Downtown in the November and December editions in the first local magazine in Pittsburgh, and nationally, to use this new technology in their printed media.

Find NightWire every month at a local distributor and download the app to view more to the ads: videos, websites, and deals!


Want to know more about how to use this new technology for your retail business? Email pghretail [at] for your first free consulting meeting.

Crowdfunding For Free Skill Sharing Events

As of today, we need just $96 more dollars…

to unlock our matching funds and reach our ultimate goal. Each donation, no matter how large or small, will receive an emailed report on all events in the series that you get whether you can attend the workshop(s) or not. Support this programming by donating a small investment of your own at:

NEW! CAM: Growing Micro-Entrepreneurs
Register for the first workshop here:


Pittsburgh Retail worked with community groups on the Northside of Pittsburgh to bring another year of Cedar Arts Market to Allegheny Commons East Park.  With the help of a supporting grant we were able to sponsor and introduce the first Pittsburgh VegFest this past August.

When offered the opportunity to raise funds for an extension of the program, it was a great time to begin a different series of events that offered skill-sharing for organization and fundamental bookkeeping by using the best available mobile and tech applications out there.

Micro-entrepreneurs aren’t a new thing, what is different though, is the latest technology.  Now more than ever are individuals easily able to make a quick investment with rewarding outcomes.  Software companies are releasing new partnerships daily that overlap functions to streamline user access, time, and return value on often free programs.

That is where CAM’s new series, Growing Micro-Entrepreneurs, is focusing on and highlighting specific applications, benefits, and tips to streamline the back-end of your retail business.  Hey Baby! Boutique owner, Karyn Pope, who creates, markets, and sells her wares throughout Western Pennsylvania has set up a system based on her knowledge and past experience as an accountant.

These workshops are open and free to the public, are intended for beginners and seasoned retailers.  If you are new to, or interested in learning more about, mobile POS systems,  preparing business taxes, utilizing applications and updated features of favorite office tools like, Google and Excel, then this workshop series is for you.