By Michael Hargrave:
The West Side Bazaar, on 242 Grant Street, celebrated its first anniversary
on March 3rd. Exactly one year to the day from when they first opened their doors. The six women, some the original members, and some more recent additions, spent the day amidst a flurry of cupcakes and music.
I took a moment before the festivities started to sit down with Novi Paluch and Louise Sano, two of the vendors who run stalls in the Bazaar. Paluch, who sells Indonesian crafts and clothes (some of which she designs herself), is one of the newer additions, having been in the Bazaar for about 6 months. Like many of the immigrants and refugees that I've had contact with, Paluch's professional life is varied and deep. Prior to moving to the United States, she said that she was in finances, working in a stock market, as well as having worked for years in a newspaper.
As one would expect, the move to the U.S. meant a lot of change. For Paluch, who seems to have a never ending supply of energy, the change was an opportunity for something new. "When I came to Buffalo, I was looking for a place to make a small business," said Paluch. "I went downtown, and I went to Tonawanda, but the business wasn't there." In her new home at the Bazaar she has found a place to build her business and find those customers that just didn't seem to be there before.
Woman holding the giraffe is Louise Sano. Woman holding the dress is Novi Paluch.
Sano, who sells African crafts that mostly come from the southern part of the continent, is a rock to Paluch's constantly running stream. She has been with the Bazaar since it's very beginning. For her, and for Paluch, the Bazaar has become far more than a place to find financial freedom. "I used to sit at home and think, 'How am I going to start?'" said Sano. "So I found friends, and a family here (at the Bazaar)."
Just one year has gone by for the Bazaar, but already great things are happening. Paluch and Sano speak of leaving the Bazaar and starting their own businesses as "graduation." Their graduation will have been the result of constant education - an education that sometimes comes in the form of classes, and sometimes comes in the form of help from their fellow vendors.
"Personally, I believe in co-operatives," said Sano. "If people can be a co-operative, they can have more force to do the things they want."
In the spirit of celebration, here's to another year of the West Side Bazaar, and all of the color it brings to our city.
242 Grant Street,