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I’m glad that this is not a trend.

This is a tough post for me. It’s not often that a business owner gets to write about the closing of his/her own business. As much as it saddens me to write about this, I feel that I have to for a variety of reasons.
First and foremost, I want to thank all of you who have shopped at Thunder Bay over the years. This was my first business endeavor in Buffalo.

Thunder Bay carried some pretty crazy stuff over the past twelve years. The store went through a series of gradual changes, mostly in the types of lines that it carried . The shop started off selling mostly Southwestern merchandise in ’93. Zapotec rugs, Pendleton blankets, Oaxacan Creatures, etc. Then we moved into a mechanical direction carrying whirligigs, solar sculptures and motion lamps. We then incorporated a bit of an Asian feel into the mix. A few years back I hooked up with Michael Morgulis and the Buffalo trend began. And then came the wrestling masks, the Elvis busts, and the recycled products. But the Buffalo merchandise really struck a chord and remained the backbone of our sales.
Thunder Bay was also a place for folks to meet up. I’ve met a lot of people through Buffalo Rising, but the number of people I met through the shop was staggering. I have twelve years of incredible memories. My fondest memories were the days that my yellow lab named Loco would accompany me to the store. Customers would drive many miles to come visit him. Days after he passed away Thunder Bay was literally flooded with cards. I guess that was about four and a half years ago.
I have a list a mile long of people that I would like to thank and wonder if I should even try to list them all. Family first. Thanks guys for all the help, encouragement and support. Also, my highschool buddy Sam for helping me to get the ball rolling. Loco, of course. Jen for all the support. To all my friends (you know who you are) that helped me move, brought over coffee, came to visit, and so on. To all of my employees that helped to hold down the fort… I am indebted to you. I’d like to thank the local shop owners who helped show me the ropes… especially Ward and Maureen from Urban. Thanks to all the local artists that taught me about ‘the finer things in life’, namely supporting the arts and small business.
A few years ago I would have felt extremely guilty closing Thunder Bay. But with all of the new shops opening in the area I feel that it is the perfect time to let go. Thunder Bay will be closing the first of the year. Thanks again for a great run.
Oh, and to those few shoplifters that I did not catch… you can thank your lucky stars.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • RIP, Thunder Bay. You have been a reliable source of gifts for holidays and occassions for many years!

  • jen

    Very sad. You have a very positive attitude on this event. I attended Buffalo State College so Elmwood was a second home to me. I think the Strip looks better than it ever has and visit it every time I visit home and your store was always there.

  • natalie b

    Thunder Bay helped make Elmwood the fun place to shop…and now look how the area has grown. I will miss finding unique gifts there. Best of luck!

  • david s

    What The FFF !

  • Anonymous

    Newell brought life to Elmwood Avenue and is now bringing Buffalo to the world. I am privileged to be a friend and a former employee, to have attended the store opening years ago, and to have shopped at Thunder Bay. Well written article, Newell, and I’ll see you when I visit Buffalo later this month. Jane

  • cake by the lake

    Thunder Bay always had a gift for people on my list. You pulled Elmwood together. Thanks.

  • anon

    First Kuni’s and now Thunder Bay . . . hope this isn’t a trend for Elmwood . . .

  • queenseyes

    No Way. Right down the street between Auburn and Lafayette there have been as many as 22 new businesses in the last few years. If you take a look at the back of BR Magazine, we can’t even cover all of the new businesses that open because we can’t keep up. Businesses like room, Elmwood PH, Chochkeys, Spoiled Rotten, Quill’s, Diggin It!, The Collective, The Strand, Shoefly, etc. have all opened in the last few years to keep Elmwood healthy. Survival of the fittest. It’s healthy to see these new spaces open up. I call it musical stores on Elmwood.

  • Newell, I am so sorry to hear about Thunder Bay. I am sure that you are destined for many more great things in the future.
    Your friendship and support have been greatly appreciated this past year or so. If I can ever be of any assistance to you, please do not hesitate to call.

  • bernadette

    i sorry to hear that thunder bay is closing that was agreat shop to shop and fun, also the one in the mall. i sorry to hear that is it s closing.

  • na

    Any plans for anything in its place?

  • Tatonka

    Thunder Bay was always a staple to my one stop shopping for Christmas. The days of Loco were truly the best !!! Well I guess now I will have to buy you something for Christmas that you did not actually have in stock!! Congrats on the great run….Looking forward to what the future has in store (darn those puns)

  • BuffaloBeacon

    Newell — My favorite three-year old and I will miss stopping in to “Mr. Newell’s store.” You have done so much for Elmwood and for our city and Thunder Bay is only a part of it. Buffalo is lucky to have you.

  • Dionne

    Newell, congrats on the success you have had with Thunder Bay over the years. Too often businesses close for financial reasons. It’s okay to move on when you know have you have reached a level of success that can allow you to move on to other dreams. BR is that dream and it’s awesome. You are an asset to Buffalo and I wish you continued success.

  • Gallery 51

    Newell, We wish you much success and many blessings in your next life as an entrepreneur, buffalonian, a man about town! You have done so much for us, as we are just starting out on elmwood, and we thank you for that. Anyway we can assist you – just let us know.
    It is sad to see you close the doors of your store, however, we know it is not the last time we will see you. You take care and see you soon – peace.

  • hamsamwich

    I wish I could say I wasn’t saddened by this news. I understand the need to move on and when it’s time, it’s time. But what a raving sucess story. Much of the revitilization of the Elmwood Village traces directly back to Noberto and Thunder Bay. Sure there were other stores around, and other business owners who cared about the community (no one picks up trash like Ward old boy). But the thing that makes Newell stand out is his unbridled enthusiasm and his ability to spread that enthusiasm through out the Elmwood business community. His ability to network and connect at the most personal of levels with people of all socio-economic and educational backgrounds shaped his Elmwood experience. He understood, well before I did, that the bottom line was more than dollars and cents. Part of his philosophy from the start was that the community had to thrive in order for the business to thrive. And thrive they did! How many times did we hear when the store opened, “You’ll know the strore is a sucess if it’s still open after a year”? And then after a year, “You’ll know the stores a sucess if it’s still open after 3 years”. And so on, and so on. There is no question in my mind that Thunder Bay was a smashing sucess story. I will tell you now as I will tell you years in the future, it was an honor and a distinct pleasure to have known Newell and shop at his store.
    Best of Luck Newell !!! I can’t wait to see what comes next…
    Mayor Noberto ?!?!

  • duke! i picked up my fountain yesterday….i love it…..your’e more than welcome to visit it any time you wish…i always have cold beer in my fridge……best of luck in your next endeavor!

  • duke! i picked up my fountain yesterday….i love it…..your’e more than welcome to visit it any time you wish…i always have cold beer in my fridge……best of luck in your next endeavor!

  • RR aka Reggie

    What! As I am stuck in philly trying to get back for a ritual b day excercise in greater buf, I dropped by BR to read the news.
    Great job with TB, I mean, I remember the skeptics in the hot tub….”it will never work in Buf”, well, you proved her and every other skeptic wrong! All the best, and…maybe I will stop buy and pick out our wedding gift/clock-after all, I mean, it has only been been ten years dec 2nd!

  • Jay Pasquarella

    Newell, Sorry to hear you’re closing. Great store and youre a great guy…This BR is your calling and as an avid advertiser when I had Lotis (I had your first inside cover Issue One) I truly think you are destined for something great. Keep it up. PS Im in Vegas…consulting. WIll be home for X-mas hope all’s well, will stop in for Xmas gifts.

  • Arete

    Newellest: I want to be like you when I grow up!
    No small feat. Thank you for raising the bar.

  • it was my favorite store in the Elmwood Strip,

  • Rosaleen Marion

    This is a sad surprise! The longevity of Thunder Bay is a testament to your devotion to Buffalo and the excellent care you give to both your customers and your fellow small businesses along Elmwood and Allen.
    best wishes ,

  • Mike McKay

    All the best to you my friend. Thunder Bay is just the beginning. CAn’t wait to see whats next for you. To Buffalo and beyond….

  • anon

    i have shopped at thunder bay since i was a little girl…. sad to see it going

  • Sundial

    Picked up a rainbow lamp here the other day… hypnotic, colorful and soothing.

  • Joe Donahue

    When I Finally had an opportunity to move into “the city” from the burbs, your shop was the first place i stopped in to buy some hip stuff for my new digs. You probably don’t remember the conversation, but the first thing you did was extend a warm welcome to me. It meant a lot. So much that every office gift, family birthday gift came from your store. I even told my kids, when they would ask “Dad what do you want for christmas?” I would simply tell them to go to thunderbay or any where else on Elmwood….and for Gods sake, don’t go to the mall!…The three of them now buy all their CDs at New world Record.
    Shops like yours make it easy to hand over hard earned money.
    Best of luck!

  • N,
    Just clicked over here for the first time…didn’t know.
    The Delirium, it’s on me next time I see you out!

  • todd

    good luck newell , in the next chapter of youre life and you will do well,and stay in the area as well. thunder bay was a good souce of a place to stop in for a gift that fits the person i was shopping for thanks,from tb