Tal & Bert’s New Retail Store is a Real Gem
The space also will include a plant-it bar where customers can design their own sparkling vessels for succulents or cactus.
As a kid growing up on the other side of the state in Bucks County, Val Talbert developed an interest in recreationally mining gems and minerals, but never did she imagine her hobby could turn into a thriving online business — and now a retail store.
With husband Ray Talbert, Val created Tal & Bert, a sparkling line of concrete and geode vessels featuring raw natural stones they mine themselves.
The housewares — which have attracted a celebrity following on Instagram and have been featured nationally on CNN, Cosmopolitan and The Spruce — have proven so popular that the Talberts are moving onto the next step, opening a store.
With a lifestyle vibe similar to Anthropologie — only more maker-friendly — Tal & Bert Mercantile is expected to open by mid-November along West Liberty Avenue in Dormont in the former MoonStones space. The couple will retain their nearby production studio in Mt. Lebanon.
Besides housewares from Tal & Bert, the minimalist-chic space will carry hand-selected products by a variety of makers and small businesses from across the country. As Black business owners, Val says she and Ray are committed to stocking more than half of the store with goods by Black- and minority-owned businesses.
“I feel there are a lot of awesome makers that don’t have the spotlight compared to these larger brands,” Val says. “We wanted to make a store that shows how awesome these small brands are and to showcase them.”
In a unique twist, the 2,400 space will be divided into two distinct categories — retail and an interactive plant-it bar. On the retail side, there will be ceramics, kitchenware, bowls, pillows and blankets as well as soaps, shampoos, facial masks and a small selection of jewelry.
On the plant side, customers will be able to create their own planters. After choosing from four different styles of vessels — which range from plain cement to geode encrusted — customers can add their own decorative touches to the planters before topping them with succulents or cactus.
Eventually, the couple hopes to add workshops hosted by local makers.
It’s explosive growth for a business that started only in February. Prior to that, Val, who has a degree in business and finance from Carlow University, had a line of jewelry she crafted with gems prospected from recreational mines across the country. Tal & Bert was created as a companion business, but soon eclipsed the jewelry line.
Today, Val and Ray — who picked up mining when he started dating Val — employ 17 people.
“We didn’t expect to take off as it did,” Val says.