The Braddock-based showroom carries a rust belt throwback collection of furniture, signage and housewares. We chatted with owner, Seth Hunter.
Talk to Seth Hunter and he’ll chuckle when you mention Toll Gate Revival, his antique shop.
“Straight up. This location (Braddock) is my old shop, times three. It’s a bigger space with bigger stuff.”
A concept that originally started six years ago out of his garage, Hunter has scaled up Toll Gate Revival into an antiques showroom and warehouse space that is now open at 224 Braddock Ave. Shop hours are Saturday & Sunday (11 am to 5 pm); Monday thru Friday (by appointment only).
How Toll Gate Revival Got Started
“I was born in Wheeling, West Virginia,” Hunter explained. “And my family had a farm on the Pennsylvania side of the West Virginia border. I was always fixing stuff and repurposing things.”
That hobby turned into an opportunity to display things at local flea markets.
“When I realized I could make some money, I began sourcing things that I thought were cool. That just drove my passion further. I started my Instagram account and the Toll Gate brand began to take shape.”
Hunter continues: “I started renting out a 10-ft x 20-ft storage unit in Claysville, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. I set it up and treated it like a real antique shop and people from Pittsburgh would actually make the hourlong drive to come look at stuff.”
After renting a space near the Mexican War Streets in 2014, Hunter moved his shop from the Northside to Lawrenceville where he remained until recently settling on a larger space in Braddock in May 2019.
Why is it called Toll Gate Revival?
Hunter says that the Toll Gate Revival brand is largely an expression of himself.
“Way back in the day (before toll booths) there were toll houses and my great-grandfather’s farm actually had a toll house that was decommissioned by the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He called it ‘Toll Gate Farm’ and I found a way to celebrate that name with ‘Toll Gate Revival.’
“As I found my personal style, Toll Gate has continued to evolve.”
What is Toll Gate’s focus in the antique realm?
“It’s always been about what I think is cool. I present things in a way people can see them in their own home,” Hunter said. “When you see an old rusty sign displayed above a couch, you get a vision. To be honest, I decorate my own home like this shop.”
“To me, Toll Gate Revival is a reflection of Pittsburgh. It’s a rustic style that this city has always had.”
-Seth Hunter, Toll Gate Revival
What trends or patterns have you noticed in the antique industry?
“Trends are always cyclical and evolving. I haven’t been around long enough to see a whole cycle in its entirety.”
“When I was getting started, ‘industrial’ was hot. Then ‘mid-century modern’ got really hot. What I’m seeing now is the ‘farmhouse / fixer-upper’ style is hot. Every Tollgate customer has their own unique style so I try to keep a diverse inventory on hand.”
“That being said, I don’t buy or source my stuff according to trends. I buy what I like and I hope you like it too.”
When did Toll Gate relocate to Braddock?
“This is Toll Gate’s fifth space.”
“I kept outgrowing previous spaces and it broke my heart to leave Lawrenceville. But then I found that Braddock has this gritty feel and I’ve always been enamored by that. I started moving over in November 2018, did some build-out and rearranging and then opened in May 2019.”
What can folks expect from the Braddock location?
“I have always been drawn to bigger, statement pieces and I want customers to be able to see everything in one location. So my front showroom is a bit more curated and high end. The back of the house is the warehouse with everything else.”
What’s the future look like for Toll Gate?
“I’m still figuring that out. I want to travel a lot more and I’d love to pack more stuff in here. I am considering expanding a bit, maybe into some vintage clothing.”
“Eventually, people will see more store hours too. I’d like to get to a point where Toll Gate can be open five days a week. The neighborhood is getting more and more lively. Everything is moving in the right direction.”
“Also, I am excited to paint more of my building too.”
Photos courtesy of Toll Gate Revival